A car collision may happen when many people are on the road. Millions of crashes occur annually, costing people thousands of dollars. Some people can pursue compensation through a claim if they are not at fault for the accident.
When someone starts a claim, they have the burden to prove liability. The other driver must be accountable for the losses if they are to provide reimbursement. Therefore, the injured party must prove the person’s negligence caused the damage. Negligence in car accidents can happen in many ways.
The Legal Duties of Drivers
The injured party must prove the other driver caused the accident to win compensation. The law dictates how a person establishes negligence in a car accident claim. The first step is to show how the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care.
The other motorist may have been a stranger. Therefore, you might not know how they owe you a duty of care. However, all drivers are responsible for keeping each other safe and have a duty to act reasonably.
Go at a Reasonable Speed
Drivers have a legal duty to travel under the speed limit. Weather, low visibility, and traffic affect the appropriate speed for motorists who must adjust their acceleration in specific circumstances to avoid negligence.
Maintain Control of the Vehicle
When someone is behind the wheel, they must control their vehicle. Drivers should reduce their speed when the road is wet or icy. Otherwise, they could run off the road or hit someone. Additionally, cars must undergo regular inspections to ensure all components function correctly.
Depending on the circumstances, a driver is liable for any accidents they cause after losing control of their vehicle due to their own negligence. If drivers lose control and cannot regain it, they should pull over to avoid an accident.
Another legal duty for drivers is to keep a lookout at all times. Motorists’ should always have eyes on the road and be aware of the vehicles around them. If a motorist remains vigilant, they will likely notice a sudden appearance of a car, pedestrian, or road hazard in time to prevent an accident.
The law expects motorists to see objects a cautious person would notice. A failure to do can result in liability.
Do Drivers Have a Duty to Street Workers?
While pedestrians usually have the right of way, they still have a duty to look for oncoming vehicles. Pedestrians should not cross a busy street if traffic signals indicate otherwise. However, some pedestrians are exempt from this rule.
Construction crews and police officers often work near or on the road: their professional responsibilities enhance their right to move about roadways. Traffic owes a greater duty to street workers to ensure their safety.
Motorists do have a legal duty to street workers. They must slow down and adhere to the boundaries of traffic cones. If a worker enters the street, nearby drivers must notice them and avoid a collision.
Common Examples of Negligence in Car Accidents
Negligence in motor vehicle collisions can appear in many forms. Driver error makes up a majority of cases, but other sources can also cause accidents.
An estimated 29 percent of traffic accident fatalities involve speeding. Fast speeds result in less time and distance for people to react to their environment. Speeders risk a collision with a car entering the street or a pedestrian on a crosswalk.
Speeding creates greater risks when a driver reaches a curve as well. The driver could slide off the road or flip the vehicle over.
A motorist becomes negligent if they tailgate another car. Tailgating is annoying behavior for many people, but the action is dangerous as well. Plenty of rear-end accidents happen because of tailgating.
The short distance between cars does not allow for a safe stop. Two vehicles can easily collide if the person in front suddenly applies their brakes. Furthermore, high speeds require longer distances. While 10 feet seems enough at 25 mph, the space is insufficient at 55 mph.
Annually, around 424,000 people sustain injuries from accidents with distracted drivers. A common means of distraction is phone use. Text notifications take a driver’s eyes off the road. A few seconds to check a message is enough time for something to occur. Even phone calls can divert an individual’s attention.
Other sources may become distract people behind the wheel. Food, drinks, and the radio cause people to take their hands off the wheel. Passengers may take a person’s attention off the road. Even thoughts about various matters are distractions.
A Lack of Precaution During Bad Weather
Around 21 percent of crashes involve weather conditions. No one can control the weather. However, motorists can view the prediction for the day and prepare. Even if they do not check the forecast, they should adapt quickly when the precipitation starts. Drivers can be negligent if they fail to take appropriate precautions.
Individuals are careless if they do not reduce speed when roads become slippery. Failing to keep the vehicle safe, like ensuring the wipers are in good working order, can be negligent, leading to an accident.
Not all car accident negligence cases involve driver error. A collision may occur because the local government breached its duty of care. For instance, if the government designed an unsafe road or the road had large potholes. Government entities must inspect and repair roads to ensure they are safe for drivers.
Government negligence may occur during bad weather as well. Snow and ice increase the chance of a car crash. Government departments are responsible for clearing snow and ice. A delayed response means the city could be liable for an accident.
Defective Vehicle Parts
Vehicle manufacturer negligence puts people at risk of car accident injuries. A company might cut corners when producing a vehicle part. As a result, they may create an unsafe car. Even a minor defect in the equipment can result in a significant risk of damage.
If a manufacturer knows of a problem with a batch of products, the company risks negligence if it does not issue a recall in time.
How People Can Get Compensation
A single severe injury may cost someone thousands of dollars in hospital bills, follow-up visits, and medication. If a condition is significant enough, a person must spend more on long-term care. The financial struggle worsens if multiple injuries exist.
In addition to medical expenses, vehicle repairs take more money out of the victim’s wallet. The price to fix everything depends on the extent of the damage.
Car accident claims allow people to get the money they need to pay collision-related bills. The insurance company assesses the damage and calculates how much to pay the claimant. The adjuster usually looks at the cost of repairs and medical care to determine the settlement.
However, the first offer the adjuster gives you might not be enough. You do not have to accept this first offer and can negotiate for more compensation. A lawyer helps convince the adjuster to agree to a higher settlement.
Some people cannot get reimbursement from a claim because the insurer denies their claim. If an insurance adjuster fails to offer a fair settlement, you can file a lawsuit to recover damages.
The Insurer May Deny a Car Accident Claim
You may need a lawyer if the insurance company denies your claim. Insurers generally have a reason, but some act in bad faith. The adjuster may not investigate the claim properly or reject it without a valid cause.
You can ask the adjuster why they denied your claim.
You might hear these reasons:
- A delay in medical care. Immediate medical attention is necessary for a person’s well-being and the accident claim. The adjuster may dispute whether an injury occurred if a claimant delays seeking treatment.
- You do not understand the policy. The adjuster may say your plan does not cover specific aspects of the accident. Alternatively, you may seek reimbursement beyond the policy’s limits. The adjuster could misrepresent how much they can pay.
- A liability dispute. Negligence is evident in some cases, but others are unclear as to who is at fault. An insurer may use the uncertainty to argue the other driver did not cause the collision. Therefore, the company refuses to pay for damages.
- You did not report the crash on time. After the collision, you need to report to the insurer right away. Otherwise, the adjuster could reject the claim because they had insufficient time to investigate.
- A pre-existing condition. If the adjuster discovers a previous underlying injury, they can deny the claim due to a pre-existing condition. The insurer would not have to pay since a past accident caused your current condition instead of the other driver.
An adjuster’s reasoning may sound legitimate, but it may not be. You can dispute the denial if you believe the insurance company acted in bad faith. Hire a lawyer if you plan to fight the insurer’s decision. Car accident attorneys know what options may be available to you.
Can You Choose the Mechanic?
The insurance company may want you to take your vehicle to an associated repair shop. However, you can go to a mechanic of your choice. Still, the insurer may request the auto repair shop have a valid license.
A complication could arise when the body repair shop gives you a report of the repairs. The mechanic could say a part of the vehicle sustained damage after the recent collision. However, their evaluation might conflict with the insurance adjuster’s initial estimate.
You might need to contact the insurer if the mechanic suggests the damages are worth more than the adjuster’s report says. Find a car accident lawyer to assist you throughout this process to ensure you advocate for your right to compensation.
Can You Recover Wages as a Self-Employed Worker?
Car accident claims reimburse people for damages like medical expenses. Settlements include the past and expected future wages people lost as well. To determine the value of lost income, people calculate the hours they did not work while they recovered. They must gather copies of their pay stubs for an accurate estimate.
However, the car accident victim may have a job as a freelancer or other type of self-employment. Recovering lost income is less straightforward since they do not work for a company directly. Some people worry they may be unable to recover damages as a result.
Nevertheless, your compensation does include missed earnings even if you are a self-employed worker. You may need to hire someone to perform job-related tasks because of your injuries. Moreover, the loss of profits and the ability to work entitle you to reimbursement.
Recent tax records can help you calculate how much the other party owes you. A car accident attorney can determine the dollar figure the at-fault driver should pay.
What if You Drove a Rented Car?
In a few reported cases, people got into a motor vehicle collision while they drove a rental car. Since they do not own the vehicle, they might not know how the situation affects their claim. Drivers have a couple of options in terms of an insurance plan.
The rental company expects drivers to return the vehicles in the same condition. The obligation remains the same even if an accident is due to another’s negligence. However, the company’s agent does offer supplemental coverage when you begin the rental period.
The representative may provide someone with the option of personal accident insurance. The policy assists with some medical costs the renter or passenger receives. The rental insurance may give death benefits if a victim dies after the accident.
You might sign a collision damage waiver. The optional document means the business waives the costs of vehicle repairs or replacement after an accident. The rental company may offer personal effects coverage as well. This policy handles the price of damaged personal belongings.
Some people can use their car insurance plans to assist with repair costs. A policy may have comprehensive coverage and pay for damages to the rental car. Contact your insurer to ensure your plan will cover the expenses of a wrecked rented vehicle.