Do you have a car accident lawsuit claim?
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and the number of people who are injured and killed in motor vehicle collisions every year is on the rise. Insurance companies are confusing (maybe on purpose) and historically payout out higher claims to accident victims with car accident attorneys.
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car accident Lawsuits
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and the number of people who are injured and killed in motor vehicle collisions every year is on the rise.
Car accidents are a regrettably common occurrence in the U.S. – there are about six million every year – and car accident lawsuits provide victims with a means of recovering compensation for their injuries if they are involved in a car accident that is someone else’s fault. If you or someone you know has suffered injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful acts, you may qualify for compensation through a car accident lawsuit, and a qualified personal injury attorney can help guide you through the process. There is too much at stake to attempt to handle your car accident lawsuit on your own. Our consumer advocates at Consumer Justice Foundation are committed to helping victims and their loved ones recover the compensation they deserve after being injured in a car accident. Contact Consumer Justice Foundation today to find out how we can help you with your case.
Car Accidents and Lawsuits
Every year, three million people are injured in car accidents in the U.S., two million permanently. Even more alarming, there are 90 car accident fatalities in this country every single day. Sadly, many of these car accident injuries are the result of negligence, which means they could have been prevented had someone not failed to exercise reasonable care or good judgment. It is not surprising to learn, then, that car accident lawsuits are some of the most frequently filed cases in the U.S. Car accident victims may decide to take their case to court and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party if pursuing an insurance settlement turns out not to be the best way to recover their losses. Keep in mind that your state may limit the amount of time you have to file a claim after a car accident, so it is important to contact an attorney right away if you think you may want to sue.
Who is at Risk for a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Teens and Inexperienced Drivers
There are many teens out there who are law-abiding and responsible, especially when it comes to getting behind the wheel of a car. Still, teens tend to be the most dangerous drivers on the road and the risk of an accident is particularly high during the first few months teen drivers have their license. Sadly, many car accidents involving teens or inexperienced drivers result in serious injuries or death. In fact, the CDC reports that, per mile driven, drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are nearly three times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident as drivers aged 20 and older. Far too many teens lose their lives in car accidents every year and some injure or kill others in preventable crashes. Passengers and other drivers on the road may be eligible for compensation through a car accident lawsuit if a wreck occurs and it is determined that a teen or inexperienced driver was negligent in his or her driving behavior.
Senior citizens are another age group at greater risk for car accidents. Research has shown that as older people advance in age, their driving ability can become impaired, which can increase their risk of being involved in an accident and suffering serious or potentially life-threatening injuries. In 2018, there were more than 45 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older in the U.S. That same year, nearly 7,700 older adults died in traffic accidents and more than 250,000 were treated in emergency departments for car accident injuries. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to nearly double by 2060, to 95 million, which means car accidents involving seniors remains a major public health concern.
The accident risk may be greatest among teen and senior drivers, but that doesn’t mean adults have a perfect driving record. In fact, while teen drivers have the greatest risk of being killed in a car accident, a 2017 study found that adults actually drive worse than teens. According to the study findings, 88% of drivers between the ages of 19 and 24, 79% of drivers between the ages of 25 and 39, and 75% of drivers between the ages of 40 and 59 admitted to engaging in dangerous driving behavior, such as speeding, texting while driving, or running red lights in the previous 30 days, compared to 69% of teens. As this kind of risky driving behavior persists, the rate of car accident deaths in the U.S. continues to soar.
Where Do Car Accidents Occur?
Highways Accident Lawsuit
America’s highways were built to make interstate and cross-country travel faster and more convenient for U.S. drivers. Unfortunately, these same highways can lead to devastating injuries and loss of life when crashes occur. The average posted speed limit on highways across the U.S. is 65 to 70 miles per hour and drivers generally push that limit to 75 or 80 miles per hour or faster. Accidents at such high speeds are often catastrophic and can lead to debilitating injuries and a lifetime of pain and suffering, or even death to anyone involved. In addition to speeding, other common causes of highway accidents in the U.S. include reckless or aggressive driving, sudden lane changes, distracted driving, drunk driving, overloaded or poorly loaded cargo, and highway construction or road defects.
Back Roads Car Accidents
Most people recognize the risks associated with driving on highways and in other high-traffic areas, and because of that, think that traveling on back roads is safer and less likely to result in an accident. However, car accidents can happen in rural areas, too. In fact, drivers typically don’t expect to encounter other cars in secluded areas and may therefore drive too fast or pay less attention to the road and their surroundings. In addition to the careless or reckless driving of others, there are other potential hazards to consider when traveling on back roads, including fallen debris, potholes, and fallen trees or tree limbs. Back roads that aren’t paved may present an even greater challenge for drivers, especially if the weather is poor, the terrain is uneven, the road is rutted, or dust or dirt gets kicked up and reduces visibility.
Common Causes of Vehicle Collisions, Rear End and T-Bone Car Accidents
With thousands of car accidents happening every day in the U.S., there are bound to be some accidents that are simply unavoidable. A driver may get caught in inclement weather or suffer a medical emergency such as a heart attack or stroke while driving, an animal may run out in the middle of the road unexpectedly…these are examples of accidents caused by unforeseen circumstances that could not have been prevented. That being said, the majority of car accidents in the U.S. are preventable accidents caused by negligence, which is a legal term defined as a failure to behave with the same level of care a reasonable person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 94% of car accidents are caused by human error. The following are some of the most common causes of car accidents in the U.S.:
- Distracted driving
- Texting while driving
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Driving while fatigued
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Running red lights
- Improper turns or wrong-way driving
- Tire blowouts
- Defective auto parts
- Unsafe road conditions
Car Accident Injuries
A car accident can be a traumatic event, and drivers and passengers involved in car crashes can suffer serious injuries to virtually any part of the body. Car accident injuries can range in severity from minor to severe and can result in debilitating pain, permanent disability or disfigurement, or even death. The following are just some of the injuries that can occur in a car accident:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries
- Limb loss and amputation
- Permanent scarring
- Facial injuries
- Crush injuries
- Wrongful death
What to Do After a Car Accident
The aftermath of a car accident can be a blur, especially if you are seriously injured and require emergency medical care. Even in car accidents that aren’t very serious, there could be important factors to consider that you may not be aware of at the time. Any time you are involved in a car accident, no matter how minor the accident may seem, you should follow these steps to protect your rights.
Call the Police
Always call the police after being involved in a car accident, even if you think you may be partly to blame for the accident. A police officer will typically interview the drivers involved in the accident and any witnesses in order to piece together what happened, and you will want an official police report of the accident on record. Depending on the specific circumstances of the accident, the police report may include a statement about who was at fault, based on the officer’s interpretation of the incident. It is imperative that you avoid apologizing for the accident or placing any blame on yourself, as this can jeopardize your case if you decide to file a lawsuit.
Get the Other Driver’s Information
While you wait for the police to arrive on the scene, ask the other driver for his or her name, contact details, and insurance information. If the other driver is responsible for the accident, you or your attorney will need to contact the driver’s insurance company to discuss reimbursement for your losses. You should also take pictures of the scene of the accident as well as any damage to your vehicle or your person.
Take Note of Any Witnesses
Witnesses are important when it comes to car accidents. Besides you and the other driver, a witness is the only other person who can say exactly what happened. If there was anyone else around when the accident took place, be sure to ask those people for their contact information so they can corroborate your account of the accident, if needed.
Gather Any Documentation Relating to Your Injuries
It is always a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident, even if you don’t appear to have suffered any noticeable injuries. There are plenty of potentially serious car accident injuries that can arise in the days or weeks after a crash that you may not notice at first, such as whiplash or back and neck injuries, and the sooner you seek medical attention, the sooner you can get the treatment you need. Make sure your doctor provides you with as much documentation as possible regarding your injuries, what caused them, and the impact they have on your daily life. If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you can use this information to support your claim.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
You deserve to be compensated for any injuries you sustain in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, whether that “someone” is a negligent driver, a car manufacturer, or the government agency responsible for maintaining the roadway. The best way to ensure that you receive fair and timely compensation for your injuries via a settlement or lawsuit is to consult a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accident claims. When you hire an attorney, he or she will gather as much evidence as possible related to the car accident, including the cause of the accident and the type and extent of the harm you suffered. A good attorney will determine what your claim is worth, and, if your claim can’t be settled for a fair amount, prepare your case for trial.
Car Accident Prevention
Who is Liable for Car Accidents?
In personal injury cases, liability is the state of being financially responsible for the injuries and losses of other drivers involved in a car accident, as well as any passengers or anyone else who may have been harmed by the crash. These losses can include vehicle damage, the cost of medical care, emotional trauma, lost wages, and more. Determining who is at fault in a car accident generally involves zeroing in on who was careless, or “negligent.” Usually, the person or party whose negligent actions caused or contributed to the accident is legally responsible for any injuries or property damage that may have occurred as a result of the accident.
Negligent drivers are drivers whose careless or reckless conduct causes harm to another person. In terms of a car accident, a driver can be negligent by doing something he or she should not have done (i.e. speeding), or by failing to do something he or she should have done (i.e. failing to stop at a stop sign or red light). For example, if you suffered injuries in a car accident with another driver who was speeding when the collision occurred, the other person (or more accurately, the other person’s insurer) is most likely financially liable for your injuries and losses. The same goes for a reckless motorcyclist, a drowsy truck driver, or any other person operating a motor vehicle in a manner that is not reasonably careful.
Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, there may be others who are liable for your injuries beyond the negligent driver. For instance, if you are injured in a collision with a drowsy truck driver who has been pushed to work long hours to make deliveries on time, both the trucker and the trucking company that employs the trucker may be at fault for the accident. As you can see, personal injury cases can get complicated quickly, which is why we always recommend consulting a skilled car accident attorney if you plan to pursue a legal claim. Your attorney’s objective will be to identify all parties that may be responsible for the harm you have suffered and identify all sources of compensation available to you under the law.
What if the Other Driver is Not Insured After a Car Accident?
Car insurance requirements differ from state to state, but nearly every state requires drivers to carry liability coverage, which is intended to protect drivers from the financial burden if they injure someone or damage someone’s property with their car. Typically, when a person is injured in a car accident, that person will sue the other driver’s insurance company for compensation. However, if you have been injured by an uninsured motorist, there is no insurance company to pursue a claim against. Instead, you may be able to file an underinsured or uninsured motorist (UM) claim with your own insurance company to recover compensation for your medical bills and damage to your vehicle, up to a certain amount. However, we recommend consulting an attorney first, to ensure that you understand all of the options available to you.
Car and Auto Part Manufacturers
Negligent drivers may be the primary cause of car accidents in the U.S., but they certainly aren’t the only cause. Sometimes, car accidents occur because of something that the driver has no control over, such as a vehicle malfunction or defective auto part, in which case blame for the accident may lie with someone else entirely. Recalls for malfunctioning vehicles and car parts that do not meet the safety standards established by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act – which was enacted to protect consumers from the unreasonable risk of accidents occurring as a result of the design, construction or operation of motor vehicles – are alarmingly frequent in the U.S. Every year, millions of vehicles and vehicle parts are recalled due to safety concerns, and many accidents have happened as a result of these recalls and product defects.
One of the most famous auto recalls in U.S. history happened during the 1990’s, when it was discovered that Ford Explorer vehicles were prone to rolling over as a result of problems with the tread on their Firestone tires. By 2001, more than 200 deaths had been reported in connection with the defective tires. More recently, Japanese supplier Takata Corporation was forced to recall airbags installed in tens of millions of vehicles in the U.S., due to problems with the airbags exploding and ejecting metal shrapnel into the vehicle passenger compartment when deployed during an accident. Unfortunately, car owners would typically have no idea that their vehicle’s airbags may be faulty until they are involved in an accident, which can increase the risk of serious car accident injuries or even death.
Defectively designed tires, faulty safety devices, software or mechanical malfunctions, and cars that are prone to rolling over are all serious problems that can have devastating consequences for drivers. Those injured in accidents caused by dangerous vehicles or defectively designed auto parts may have grounds to pursue a product liability claim against the responsible car company or auto part manufacturer, regardless of whether or not the malfunctioning vehicle or vehicle part has been recalled.
Drivers are responsible for using reasonable care when traveling on America’s roadways, but it is up to the federal, state, or local government agency that owns the road to perform regular road maintenance, make any necessary changes or repairs to roads to reduce the risk of traffic accidents, and, when unexpected hazards do exist, ensure that drivers are adequately warned. When drivers are unaware of dangerous road conditions or swerve to avoid an unexpected hazard and lose control of their vehicles, catastrophic accidents can occur.
As a result of poor road conditions, thousands of drivers and passengers suffer injuries that could have been avoided had the roadway they were driving on been properly maintained. When a car accident occurs because of a dangerous road condition or a roadway that is poorly designed or maintained, accident victims may be able to file a lawsuit against the government agency whose responsibility it is to ensure that the roadway is safe for travelers. If a hazard exists that the government knew about or should have known about, and the hazard is not promptly or properly addressed, the government may be liable for any car accident injuries that occur as a result of that hazard. The following are some examples of potentially dangerous road conditions that can make car accidents more likely:
- Missing or incorrect road signs
- Uncleared snow or ice
- Missing guardrails or barriers
- Uneven pavement
- Faded or poorly painted lines
- Unexpected changes in road surface
- Shoulder drop-offs
- Ruts from heavy vehicles
- Poor road design
- Unsafe road work areas
Understanding Comparative Negligence Laws
Determining liability in a car accident can be relatively straightforward if the accident is clearly someone else’s fault. If a drunk driver crosses over the center line and collides with another vehicle, injuring the other driver, it won’t take much to determine that the drunk driver was negligent and is therefore responsible for the other driver’s injuries. In some car accidents, however, fault lies with both parties involved in the accident. An example would be if you ran a red light and, in doing so, your car was struck by a speeding driver. In this case, you may be partially at fault for the accident, which can make your case more complicated. This is known as comparative negligence and it can limit your ability to recoup damages in a negligence-based personal injury claim. How much you can recover for your injuries if your own negligence played a part in causing the accident will depend on your state’s comparative negligence laws.
Pursuing Compensation for Accident Injuries
How to Sue After a Car Accident
If you are injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, say a distracted driver’s, the other driver’s insurance company should compensate you for your medical bills, any wages you have lost as a result of being unable to work, and any emotional trauma the accident caused you to suffer. However, insurance companies are notorious for underpaying these types of claims or disputing the settlement amount or other details so that injury claims drag on for weeks, months, or even years. As a result, many injured car accident victims choose to instead file a lawsuit to recover fair and timely compensation for their losses. A car accident lawsuit is considered a personal injury case and these types of cases are handled by personal injury attorneys. Whatever the circumstances of your personal injury case, it is in your best interest to hire a car accident attorney as soon as you can after the accident, to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
How a Car Accident Lawsuit Can Help
Filing a lawsuit against another driver or a car manufacturer may sound intimidating, but a lawsuit is often the best chance for injured victims to maximize their recovery after a car accident. It also gives car accident victims an opportunity to hold those responsible for the accident accountable for the harm they have caused. If you have been involved in a serious accident, the cost of treating your injuries and repairing or replacing your damaged property can be expensive and these costs could carry on for years to come, if not for the rest of your life. By filing a car accident lawsuit against the negligent party, you can seek compensation for the following damages and more:
- Past and future medical bills
- Emotional suffering
- Loss of income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage
- Permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death (if you lost a loved one)
If you are considering pursuing a car accident lawsuit, consulting a knowledgeable car accident attorney can help you determine what your claim is worth and ensure that you understand your legal options, as well as the pros and cons of negotiating a settlement versus filing a lawsuit based on the specific details of your case. The expertise of a reputable car accident attorney is especially valuable if your accident resulted in serious injuries or the death of a loved one.
What are the Legal Claims for a Car Accident?
A personal injury is any injury to a person’s body, mind or emotions, and a personal injury claim is a type of lawsuit that may arise when one person suffers injuries or compensable losses in a car accident or in another type of accident and someone else might be legally responsible for causing those losses. To win your case and successfully hold the at-fault party accountable for the harm you have suffered in a car accident, you will have to prove the following key elements required for personal injury claims:
- The other party (defendant) owed you a duty to exercise reasonable care,
- The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act in a certain way,
- The defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused your injuries, and
- You suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
Sometimes the injuries resulting from a car accident are too extensive for the victim to recover. If a car accident results in death, the estate and/or the decedent’s loved ones may have grounds to file a wrongful death claim against the person or party who is legally liable for the death. Wrongful death lawsuits can be brought against any person or party whose negligence or wrongful acts resulted in the victim’s death (i.e. a drunk driver or negligent car manufacturer), in order to compensate close family members for the financial burden that accompanies the unexpected loss of a loved one. A wrongful death case is a specific type of personal injury case and plaintiffs are required to prove the same four elements detailed above to establish negligence.
Another type of lawsuit that may stem from a car accident is a product liability lawsuit. Product liability is an area of the law that has to do with a manufacturer, distributor, supplier, or any other company or entity that makes products available to consumers being held accountable for the injuries caused by those products. The companies that manufacture motor vehicles, like Ford, Toyota, and General Motors, are responsible for the safety of their vehicles, as are the manufacturers of vehicle components and accessories. When car accident injuries or fatalities occur because of malfunctioning vehicles or faulty vehicle parts, these companies can be held responsible for the resulting losses. Product liability claims arising from car accidents typically involve the following issues:
- Design defects – Motor vehicles with an unreasonably dangerous design,
- Manufacturing defects – Defectively manufactured vehicles or vehicle parts, or
- Marketing defects – Failure to provide adequate information about how to safely use the product or system.
Finding the Right Car Accident Attorney
It can be difficult to know whether you should settle or sue after a car accident. After all, the goal is to receive full and fair compensation for the harm you have suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, and accurately valuing your case isn’t as straightforward an undertaking as you might think. This is one of many reasons you’ll want an attorney on your side who has experience dealing with car accident claims, someone you can trust to handle the negotiations and legal deliberations while you focus on recovering from your injuries. A good car accident attorney will thoroughly assess the facts of your case and work with investigators and medical experts to establish the other party’s liability and the extent of the injuries you have sustained. If you have been injured in a car accident that was someone else’s fault, or if you lost a loved one in a fatal car crash, don’t wait to get help from a personal injury attorney. Contact our consumer advocates at Consumer Justice Foundation right away to explore your legal options.
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