Each year, there are millions of auto accidents that injure people and damage property. A lot of these are minor and the individuals involved may choose to file a police report, inform their insurance company, or pay for the damages out of their own pocket. When car accidents involve great bodily injury or even death, the victims will often file a personal injury lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident. However, the laws in most states have a limited time in which the claimant can file suit. This is known as the statute of limitations, which varies from one to six years depending on the state.
Many accidents occur due to negligence on the part of one of the drivers involved. In order to claim damages, you need to be able to prove that the collision was not your fault and that someone else was responsible. Determining negligence is done by examining the facts derived from the following:
- Police report
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert witness testimony
- Sketches and/or diagrams of the accident scene
If more than one party involved in the accident is at fault, liability may be distributed among the negligent parties according to the percentage of fault. This is known as comparative negligence. Not all states follow this rule. A plaintiff’s financial recovery may be reduced or even prohibited if the plaintiff’s actions caused or contributed to the accident. This is known as contributory negligence and in some jurisdictions, a person can only recover damages if he or she did not contribute to the accident in any way.
Types of Damages
Most victims of auto accidents seek what are known as compensatory damages. There are two types of compensatory damages that include economic damages, which are awarded for out of pocket expenses and non-economic damages for pain and suffering. The injured party may recover damages for the following:
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Medical and rehabilitative expenses
- Past and future loss of income
- Permanent disfigurement or impairment
- Future medical bills
- Loss of consortium (inability of one’s spouse to have normal marital relations)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Damage to physical property
You may also be entitled to seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are a way of punishing the defendant for misconduct and to deter them from similar careless behavior in the future. They are awarded when the defendant’s conduct is found to be intentional, willful and/or malicious, such as driving while intoxicated, running a red light or speeding. The amount of money that a victim can recover depends on the extent of the fault of the person who caused the accident.
When to Call a Lawyer
If you have been the victim of an auto accident whether the accident is your fault or not, you should always consult with an attorney who specializes in this area of law. They can help you recover compensation for your injuries. If you are found to be liable for the accident, a lawyer will be able to help protect you fromm paying an unreasonable amount of money to the injured parties.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer to find out more about your legal rights and how much compensation you are entitled to.