Car Accident Injury Claim
What Are the Elements of a Car Accident Injury Claim?
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Car Accident Injury Claim
Many car accident claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. Although you may have a general understanding of what negligence means, you’ll have to prove four specific elements when arguing that the at-fault party owes you compensation. These elements are:
- Breach of Duty
Proving negligence is simple on its face, but in practice can be quite complicated. If you have questions about the claims process, Morgan & Morgan is here to help. We’ve been fighting for victims of car accidents for more than 30 years. Our car accident lawyers will make sure that your rights are protected and that you are not shortchanged by the insurance company. Click here to receive a free, no-commitment case review.
Element 1: The Other Driver Owed You a Duty of Care
A duty is a legal obligation that we owe to someone else in a variety of daily contexts: for example, whenever you operate a motor vehicle, you are required to drive in a reasonably careful manner. This requirement is known as a duty of care.
Every driver has a duty to obey traffic laws. You are expected, for example, to follow traffic signals, drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions, drive without impairment due to drugs and alcohol, and keep your focus on the road.
Element 2: Breach of the Duty of Care
Once it is established that the other driver owed you a duty of care, the next step is to show that they breached that duty.
The “reasonable person” test is often applied in negligence law. It asks, “What would a reasonable person have done in this situation?” For example, would a reasonable driver stop at a red light? Would a reasonable driver send text messages on a busy road while their vehicle was in motion?
The other driver may have breached their duty if they failed to do what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.
Element 3: The Breach of Duty Caused Your Injuries
The third element that must be satisfied is causation. In other words, you must show that the other driver’s conduct (i.e., their failure to exercise reasonable care) caused your injuries.
Causation disputes can arise when a claimant seeks compensation for the aggravation of a pre-existing injury. The insurance company may also try to claim that your injuries are related to an incident other than the car accident, or that the accident was not severe enough to cause your injuries. Medical record documentation is an important factor in establishing causation.
Insurance company minimizing your claim? Consider hiring a lawyer.
Element 4: You Suffered Damages From the Accident
An accident might leave you feeling shaken. But without actual, verifiable injuries and/or financial losses, your claim could fail to prove the final element of a successful negligence claim.
The compensation you are eligible to receive is known as “damages.” Several types of damages are common in car accident cases, including money for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. It is rare to walk away from an accident without any damages since even minor fender benders can cause significant harm to your body and vehicle.
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What Should I Do Following a Car Accident?
At the scene of a car accident, you’re probably not thinking about the potential for a lawsuit. Car accidents are usually unexpected and can be terribly frightening when they occur.
However, there are specific steps you must follow to protect your rights and ensure you handle the accident in line with proper protocols. If you later decide a lawsuit is warranted, you’ll have fulfilled your obligations as a responsible citizen.
First, check everyone involved in the accident for injuries, including yourself. If immediate medical attention is warranted, call for an ambulance.
Try to keep the injured victims comfortable while waiting for the medical team to arrive. If anyone has severe cuts or is bleeding profusely, stay on the phone with the operators for instructions on administering first aid.
When you call 911 for medical assistance, they will notify the police of the accident. When the police arrive, officers will take over the crash scene and begin their investigation of the accident. Their investigation will result in a police report. Make sure to keep a copy of the police report for your records.
Try to assemble evidence from the crash for your records. Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you sustained. Photos of other cars involved in the wreck are also helpful.
Because injuries may appear in the days following a crash rather than immediately, it’s best practice to visit a private physician, urgent care center, or hospital even if you don’t think you have severe injuries.
Should I File a Lawsuit if I Have Injuries?
Determining whether to file a lawsuit following a car accident is a personal decision. If you have severe injuries that prevent you from working and will require time to recover from, you should seek legal advice.
While you may immediately file a claim with your insurance provider, remember that insurance companies aren’t likely to act in your favor. Insurance claims agents will review your injuries and the property damage sustained in the wreck and may offer you a small settlement for your troubles.
However, an insurance provider’s settlement offer will not likely cover the full extent of your losses. Thus, before negotiating with an insurance provider, seek assistance from a car accident attorney.
A car accident lawyer will review the facts of your case and determine the extent of your financial losses. They’ll account for every aspect of your accident, including the damage to your vehicle, your prospects for medical treatment, and whether you can work.
Once your lawyer assesses your damages, they’ll review the insurance coverage you and the other drivers involved in the wreck have to determine how much you may recover. The attorney will then negotiate with insurance agencies on your behalf to obtain a fair settlement.
If you attempt to handle the negotiation process independently, you’re likely to make mistakes that lead to an inadequate settlement. It’s best to allow legal professionals with expertise in car accident lawyer to handle the procedures for you.
What Happens if the Other Driver Is Uninsured?
All states require drivers to carry a certain amount of automobile insurance. However, some people act negligently and don’t carry the proper insurance coverage.
Drivers who fail to act in accordance with the law may face fines and penalties for not carrying insurance. In addition, they may be held personally accountable for the medical costs and lost wages of individuals hurt in a car accident that was their fault.
An attorney at Morgan and Morgan can help you determine what to do if the driver involved in your accident is uninsured.
Can I Collect Monetary Compensation from My Insurance Provider for My Injuries?
Some states require that motorists carry personal injury protection (PIP) for accidents they are involved in. A PIP policy pays for medical care if you sustain injuries in a collision.
Individuals may also purchase policies that provide them with medical care if they are involved in an accident with an uninsured individual.
A Morgan & Morgan attorney will evaluate your insurance coverage and that of the other drivers to determine which policy may cover your injuries. Determining which policy applies to your case is complex, so you’ll want the assistance of an experienced lawyer.
What if I Am Partially at Fault for the Collision?
Each state has its own laws concerning fault and negligence in car accident cases. Some states allow people to collect damages even if they are partially responsible for the accident, while others do not.
Only a few states use the contributory negligence rule, which only allows for car accident lawsuits if the driver is not responsible for the collision. Most states use some form of comparative negligence, where drivers can still collect damages even if they are partially at fault for the accident.
A Morgan and Morgan car accident attorney can review the facts of your case and compare them with your state laws to determine whether you can still collect damages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Talk to an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer For Free
Knowledge about the law is a source of empowerment. Sometimes, though, there is no substitute for an experienced, trial-tested lawyer.
The injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan understand the small legal nuances that can make a big difference in your case. We’ve handled thousands upon thousands of car accident lawsuits and don’t hesitate to go to court against insurance companies that play games with our clients.
To find out how Morgan & Morgan can help, please contact us.