If a motor vehicle accident harmed you due to another’s fault, you could recover compensation for the expenses and harms you suffer, especially if you incurred debilitating or long-term injuries and the extensive medical bills that tend to come along with them. Unfortunately, obtaining compensation is not as easy as many people hope it to be. In fact, there are legal hurdles that victims need to clear before they can pursue compensation.
In this blog post, we will dive into the topic of auto negligence, explaining how simply being injured in an accident is not necessarily enough to collect financial compensation and what you need to show to get the recovery you deserve.
Auto Negligence Defined
Auto negligence occurs when a motorist does not operate their car in a reasonably safe manner, and as a result, causes an injury to another individual. Consequently, this negligent driver can be held liable for damages that occur from their careless driving.
When a driver is operating their vehicle on the streets or highways, they need to pay attention to the road’s grade, width, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any individual.
Common Examples of Auto Negligence
There are many ways a motorist can fail to operate their vehicle in a reasonably safe manner, and thus be considered negligent.
Some of the more common examples of auto negligence include the following:
- Distracted driving, including texting and driving, eating and driving, or talking to other individuals in the car while driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving while fatigued
- Aggressive driving, which includes any deliberate, unsafe driving behavior, with a disregard for safety
- Speeding, failing to yield, violating other traffic laws
- Failing to keep the car in good maintenance
If you were in an accident due to another exhibiting negligence in these or other ways, you may be entitled to financial recovery. But there are many important steps to take, and you should contact an experienced motor vehicle lawyer as soon after an accident as possible so that you can preserve your claim. An attorney can go over your case, determine if you have a viable claim, and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Proving Negligence in an Auto Accident
Motor vehicle accident claims often present complex legal issues that can impact a victim’s ability to get the money they need, high among which is often proving another driver’s negligence.
To successfully prove negligence, car accident victims should work with an experienced car accident lawyer that can help them establish:
- Duty of Care: The liable party had a duty of care to protect others from unreasonable risk or harm. This goes back to the duty of all drivers to operate their vehicles safely and legally—this is every driver’s duty of care.
- Breach of Duty: The liable party violated, or breached, their duty of care.
- Causation: The liable party’s breach was a direct and proximate cause of the victim’s injuries. Because they breached their duty of care, the victim was injured.
- Damages: Due to the accident, the victim suffered injuries or losses that may be remedied by monetary damages.
Establishing negligence following a motor vehicle accident requires detailed evidence and sound legal arguments. A skilled motor vehicle accident lawyer can take care of this complex legal requirement for you and give you an immense advantage in pursuing compensation.
Damages Available Following an Auto Negligence Accident
If you have been injured in a car accident due to auto negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you suffered. In court, this compensation is referred to as damages. Plaintiffs may typically recover compensatory damages, which include economic and non-economic damages.
Economic Damages: These damages refer to tangible expenses that result from an accident and include the following:
- Past and anticipated future medical bills such as hospital stay, doctor visits, emergency room visits, assistive devices, prescription medications, and surgeries
- Lost wages, for pay lost while a victim was recovering from their injuries or going to treatment
- Lost earning capacity, in the event a victim is unable to return to work paying as much as they made before the accident
- Replacement services
- At-home nursing care
- Rehabilitative therapy such as occupational or physical therapy
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic Damages: These damages include more subjective losses that are not as easily quantifiable. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of a limb
Punitive Damages: Unlike compensatory damages, which compensate the victim for their losses, punitive damages punish the defendant for particularly egregious actions and deter them and others from committing such acts again. This often includes conduct like drinking and driving. However, the burden of proof for obtaining punitive damages is often higher than for recovering compensatory damages, requiring significant evidence that the defendant was grossly negligent. Gross negligence means the conduct was so reckless that it constituted a conscious disregard for the life and safety of others.
The Statute of Limitations To Bring an Auto Negligence Lawsuit
The statute of limitations is a law that dictates the maximum amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit following an alleged offense. If you do not bring this lawsuit within this allotted time, you are generally barred from collecting compensation for your injuries.
The statute of limitations for bringing an auto negligence accident lawsuit varies from state to state. In some states, you have as little as two years from the date of the accident. In others, like Florida, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is four years from the date of the accident. However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that can impact the amount of time you have to file by shortening or lengthening this deadline. Reach out to a skilled motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon after your accident as possible, to make sure you preserve your claim. These attorneys can go over your accident, determine how much time you have to file your claim, and ensure all necessary filings are timely and correctly made.
Although you typically have a few years to file your case, you should not wait to proceed with legal action. You risk missing your deadline, and the longer you wait, the more likely evidence is to disappear, whether witnesses become unavailable or tangible evidence goes missing. Loss of such evidence can jeopardize your chances of being able to recover compensation.
Actions to Take After an Auto Negligence Accident
Following a car accident that was due to another person’s reckless or negligent actions, the scene is often chaotic and stressful. However, it is important to remember that the steps you take after this accident are not only vital to your health and safety but your legal rights as well. Following an auto negligence accident, you should consider doing the following:
If you have been involved in a car accident, you should contact 911 immediately. This is the quickest way to get emergency medical services on-site to tend to any injured persons and to get the accident on record.
Once the police arrive, they can promptly investigate the crash and record their findings in their police report. If you decide to pursue legal action for your injuries, this report can provide you with valuable evidence regarding what happened and who was at fault.
Gather Evidence From the Scene
If it is safe for you to do so, try to take videos or photos of the accident scene. This should include pictures of your visible injuries, the placement of the vehicles involved in the crash, skid marks on the road, the weather conditions at the time of the accident, traffic signs near the accident, and any other evidence that can help show what happened.
Get Driver Information
Try to get information from all the other drivers involved in the accident, including names, contact details, insurance information, and driver’s license numbers.
Get Witness Information
If others at the scene saw what happened, get their names and contact information. Such witnesses can provide valuable evidence to help back up your claim. However, if someone expresses that they do not which to share their information with you, do not press them. Instead, make sure police arrive on the scene to put together a report, which will include witness statements. And, once you retain an experienced car accident lawyer, they can help obtain missing information.
Watch What You Say
As you talk to the other drivers and witnesses at the scene, you should watch what you say. This means you want to avoid making statements about blame for any part of the accident or apologizing for anything that happened. You might say something that can come back to bite you, jeopardizing your compensation claim. Stick to communicating about and gathering neutral facts.
See a Doctor as Soon as Possible
Even if your injuries appear to be minor, you still need to get examined by a medical professional following the accident. Often, serious injuries such as head and brain trauma can take days to weeks to manifest. The longer you wait to get treatment, the more harmful these injuries can become, and in some cases, they can even kill people. For these reasons, you should have a doctor check you over as soon as possible.
Additionally, getting examined by a doctor can help your claim. Insurance companies are looking for any reason to deny your claim. If you fail to get swift medical treatment, an insurance company is likely to argue against your claim by suggesting that your injuries are not that serious or are the result of a subsequent event. Seeing your doctor as soon after your crash as possible helps to ensure your injuries are documented in their medical report, providing you with evidence of their severity and a direct link between your injuries and the accident.
Keep Track of Your Bills and Records
To collect maximum compensation for the harm you sustained, you must provide a strong claim with detailed and reliable evidence of your expenses and harms. For this reason, you should keep all of your bills, receipts, and other records of expenses following the motor vehicle accident. These documents can help provide your lawyer with the proof they need to show the harm and losses you endured because of the collision.
Get these records as soon as possible. If you wait too long, you risk the chance of these documents disappearing or the process of obtaining these records taking too long. Also keep your own records about other impacts and harms you are experiencing, which may be physical, mental, or emotional pain you are suffering from due to the accident.
Contact an Experienced Auto Negligence Accident Lawyer Today
Although no amount of compensation can undo the harms you endured following an auto negligence crash, obtaining the financial recovery you are entitled to for your injuries and losses under the law can help you start rebuilding your life after such a horrifying event. You give yourself the best chance of recovery by hiring a skilled auto negligence accident attorney.
Once you retain a skilled and knowledgeable car accident lawyer, they can provide you with many valuable services, including:
- Discuss your case in detail, evaluate your legal options and how much you potentially stand to recover
- Answer all of your questions and concerns and provide support during this challenging time
- Investigate your case thoroughly and secure the evidence needed to show fault and damages
- Help you go after all potentially liable parties so that you can recover maximum compensation
- Bring in the experts such as accident reconstructionists, economists, and doctors to substantiate your claims
Handle all the negotiations with the insurance company, pushing them toward a fair settlement amount
- Take your case to trial, if necessary, and provide zealous representation in court to obtain a court award of damages
If you or a loved one has been harmed in an auto negligence accident, do not wait any longer to seek the legal assistance you need. Contact an experienced auto negligence lawyer. They normally offer free case consultations, so there’s no harm to looking into your legal options to pursue compensation.