Car crashes are the most common form of a personal injury lawsuit. The reason is so many auto accident victims find themselves dealing with devastating financial consequences while trying to heal from traumatic injuries. The purpose of tort law is to provide victims of personal injury the opportunity to recover some losses suffered because of another person’s negligent behavior. If you were injured in a car crash, you may have the chance to recover your financial losses and more.
Common Causes of Car Crashes
There are many common causes of car crashes. However, the majority of them fall under the category of human error. For example, some common causes include:
- Distracted driving. Visual distractions divert the eyes away from the road. Manual distractions divert the hands from the wheel, and cognitive distractions occur when the driver’s mind is elsewhere while driving.
- Speeding. Speeding, especially in traffic, reduces the driver’s reaction time, endangering everyone on the road.
- Reckless driving. Several violations can fall under reckless driving, including running traffic lights and stop signs, speeding, tailgating, and road rage.
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Impaired driving is a serious road violation. Intoxicants dull the senses and inhibit the driver’s ability to remain alert or react.
- Fatigued driving. Driving when overly tired can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.
Car crashes are not always the result of a single cause. Often there are multiple factors leading up to the accident. For example, impaired drivers often speed, and during inclement weather, they are especially dangerous on the road.
What To Do After a Car Crash
Your actions immediately following a car crash are essential to your health and compensation claim. The steps you should take include:
- Checking for injuries. Assess your body for any injuries before your move and call for emergency medical services if necessary.
- Call the police. If you do not need an ambulance, you should still alert the police.
- Document the scene. Use your phone or a camera to take photographs or videos of the vehicles, injuries, and the surrounding area.
- Collect information. Ask the other driver for their name, contact information, and insurance card. Also, collect the names and contacts of everyone on the scene, including potential witnesses.
- Seek medical attention. If you do not need first responders, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. You may have latent symptoms and will require a record of your injuries.
- Talk to a car crash lawyer. Speak with an attorney about the details of your accident while everything is still fresh in your mind, and provide them with the documentation you collected.
If you already suffered an accident and could not complete these steps, you should still speak with an attorney. They will conduct an independent investigation.
Liability in a Car Crash
Liability is the core of any car crash lawsuit. As the plaintiff, your responsibility is to prove the defendant acted negligently, causing the crash and your injuries. When you hire a car crash lawyer, one of the first tasks they complete is to send a demand letter stating your claim for compensation along with a summary of the accident and the defendant’s role. Typically, the defense will respond with their own accusations, often including claims that the plaintiff is entirely or partially at fault for the accident. If you share responsibility, the court will apply the comparative negligence rule.
Comparative Negligence Rule
The comparative negligence rule allows the plaintiff to recover compensation even if they share fault for the accident. However, when applied, the rule requires the court to remove the plaintiff’s percentage of responsibility from the final award. Additionally, state law determines which category of comparative negligence the court will use:
- Pure comparative negligence permits access to compensation regardless of the percentage of fault. Therefore, you can be 90% responsible for the car crash and recover 10% of the total damages.
- Modified comparative negligence only permits access to compensation if you are less responsible than the defendant. For example, if you are 49% responsible, you can still receive 51% of the total damages. However, if you are 50% responsible, you are not eligible for compensation. Some states set the threshold at 51%.
Most personal injury lawsuits settle before ever reaching the trial phase. With the help of a car crash lawyer possessing negotiation skills, you could receive a settlement without ever entering a courtroom. In this case, the theory behind the comparative negligence rule will still apply.
Potential Compensation From a Car Crash
The potential compensation you could receive from a car crash comes from the damages you suffered. These are called compensatory damages. Additionally, if the at-fault party in your case acted particularly egregious, the court may deem it appropriate to require them to pay punitive damages.
Economic Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages come in two categories. The economic compensatory damages include the losses with tangible evidence, particularly related to your injuries and property damage. They include:
- The costs incurred for medical treatment, such as ambulance expenses, hospital visits, out-patient clinic appointments, rehabilitation, necessary medical devices, and medications
- The loss of income from current and future missed work
- The loss of earning capacity caused by permanent disability
- The cost of repairing or replacing any property damaged by the accident
- The cost of hiring at-home help for household duties or childcare
- The cost of transportation to and from medical treatments
Any out-of-pocket expenses directly related to your accident or injury are potential economic damages. Your attorney will collect all the necessary evidence to support your claim, including medical bills, repair estimates, and pay stubs.
Non-Economic Compensatory Damages
Non-economic damages have no inherent monetary value but can be valued for the purpose of compensation. They include:
- The physical pain and suffering caused by your injuries
- Any mental or emotional distress caused by the accident, including diagnosable issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety
- Loss of the ability to enjoy your life as you had before the crash
- Disability or disfigurement, such as amputation
Your attorney will use several sources to value these claims. For example, they may take your written statement about how the accident and injuries affected your life and interview family members and friends about changes they have seen in your demeanor.
Car crash cases rarely result in an award for punitive damages. The court reserves this for instances in which the responsible party behaved with gross negligence and showed no regard for the safety of others. For example, if the at-fault driver in your case was under the influence and speeding when the accident occurred, the court may decide to punish them with punitive damages.
Schedule an Appointment With a Car Crash Lawyer
If you suffered an injury in a car crash caused by another person, you should not have to face the financial repercussions while trying to rest and heal. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, our attorneys know the financial burdens that car crash victims face. To help alleviate some of that burden, we follow the Stone Cold Guarantee, which ensures we get paid only after you get paid. That means we charge no upfront fees to get started on your case. Our team is here to help you get your life back. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R). Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today for your free consultation with a personal injury lawyer who has experience in car crashes.