Law for Car Accidents: Car accident law refers to the legal rules that determine who is responsible for the personal and property damage resulting from a traffic collision. This area of the law consists of the principles of negligence, as applied to this particular category of personal injury cases. Like other cases in which negligence law applies, car accident litigation is governed almost entirely by state law.
While nuances exist, car accident victims in every state must prove the same basic four elements in order to recover compensation. These elements are: duty, breach, causation, and harm. With respect to duty, drivers have a legal obligation to obey the rules of the road and to operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner. This means driving a safe speed, maintaining control, exercising awareness, observing traffic signals, using blinkers and headlights, etc.
The existence of a duty is typically accepted without much argument. By contrast, the plaintiff will usually be required to offer evidence that the defendant breached that duty. Breach can be shown by direct evidence, such as eyewitness testimony, traffic surveillance video, or an admission of fault. Or, the plaintiff may need to resort to circumstantial evidence, such as skid marks, paint smudges, or blood alcohol readings.
Just because the defendant had a duty to operate his or her vehicle in a certain manner, and it is shown that the defendant breached that duty, the court will not assume those circumstances caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Rather, the plaintiff must prove the element of causation. In car accident cases, this can be done through medical testimony demonstrating the injuries are consistent with the nature of the crash, and that they did not exist beforehand.
Finally, the plaintiff must prove harm. No matter how egregious the other driver’s conduct was behind the wheel, the plaintiff cannot bring a negligence lawsuit unless the conduct produced damage to the plaintiff’s person or vehicle. “Near miss” cases will not qualify. Once harm is shown, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and grief, lost wages, and more.
Steps to Take Following an Accident
The first thing to do after a car accident is to remain silent about who is to blame for the incident. As simple as this may seem, admitting fault is by far the most common mistake potential litigants make in the moments following a crash. Ordinarily, the rules of evidence do not allow out-of-court statements (aka “hearsay”). But there is an exception for admissions. Even a simple apology can potentially be used against you. Conversely, it is important to make notes of any statements made by the other driver. A smartphone, tablet, or another electronic device can be great for recording voice memos in the chaos of an accident scene. By whatever means are available, gather as much detail about the accident as possible. To begin with, take down the other driver’s name and address, license number, and insurance information.
Other evidence to preserve includes witness contact information, descriptions of the road, traffic, weather conditions, and photographs of the vehicles. If your cell phone or camera has the ability to record video, use it. Make a video of the accident scene up close and from a distance, including the location of traffic signs, crosswalks, and so forth. Also, be sure to write down the names of police officers so it will be easier to get copies of their reports.
Never overlook the importance of seeking immediate medical attention. The whiplash motion caused by car accidents can produce injuries the victim may not notice at first, but that becomes more pronounced as time passes. As a potential plaintiff in a negligence case, you do not want the other driver’s attorney to belittle the severity of your injuries, based on the fact that you did not feel it necessary to seek treatment right away.
Of everything that can be done after a car accident to preserve a victim’s right to compensation, contacting a personal injury lawyer will have the greatest impact. Without the assistance of counsel, you will be alone and vulnerable to the tactics of the opposing side’s insurance company. The adjuster may pressure you to accept an unfair settlement or to waive other rights. Before signing anything, be sure to consult an attorney.
Car Accident Law – Know Your Right
- A Guide To Your Rights If You Are In A Car Accident
If you were involved in a car accident, it is important to follow a certain procedures in order to receive the compensation you deserve and protect your rights. Insurance providers may refuse to provide compensation or place a limit on the amount of compensation available. It is important to understand how insurance claims work after different types of automobile accidents and how a lawyer may be able to help you.
- Can Texting While Driving Lead to a Murder Charge
A driver was sending a text message when he accidentally swerved across the middle line and killed the driver of a vehicle heading in the opposite direction. The incident was clearly an accident, but was the teen’s action of composing text messages while driving so wanton and reckless that it could amount to criminal homicide?
- Hit and Run Accidents and the Consequences
For those who caused the accident and then fled the scene, usually in a panic, the consequences can be severe.
- How do You Know Who is at Fault in a Car Accident
Determining the responsible party for a car accident can sometimes be tricky. There is often a difference between who actually caused an accident and who legally is at fault.
- How to Know if a Car Accident Case is Worth Anything
Virtually any civil lawsuit has one thing in common: damages. That is the injury, financial harm, or damage to property for which one is entitled to recover money from the other party.
- In a Rear-End Collision, Is the Guy in the Back Always at Fault?
Being in any accident can be a nightmare, but when you are the driver of a vehicle that collided with another from the rear, it can be particularly troubling. Conventional wisdom will usually tell you that the driver in the back is always at fault, and in most instances, this will be true, but not all.
- Single-Vehicle Accidents
A single-vehicle collision or single-vehicle accident is, as the name implies, a car collision in which only one vehicle is involved. This can include accidents like running off the road, colliding with fallen rocks, running over debris on the road, losing control of the vehicle and rolling it, hitting animals, and so forth.
- What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident
For many, it can be a nightmare scenario: driving safely and minding their own business when another vehicle hits them, causes damage and possibly injuries, then flees the scene. What do you do? Who will pay for the damage?
- What to do When a Defective Part Caused Your Car Accident
We expect our cars to keep us and our families safe, but with a system of hundreds of moving parts, it is not uncommon for something to fail, often with dangerous results. Indeed, each year, millions of cars are recalled because of manufacturing defects or defective parts that can cause fatal car crashes.
What to Do After a Car Accident
- What to Do After a Car Accident
Due to the high number of accidents, motor vehicle accidents compromise the most significant proportion of personal injury cases. Knowing what to do immediately after an accident can make a significant impact in a case and help individuals protect their legal rights. Use this car accident law handbook to understand your legal rights and strengthen your claim.
Car Accident Laws per State
- California Car Accident Laws
California has a variety of laws that may apply in case of a car accident. These laws determine how insurance claims are handled, what damages are available and when a lawsuit must be filed, if necessary. It is important that people who are involved in a car accident in California understand these laws and how they may impact their claim.
- Florida Car Accident Laws
Florida motorists should be aware of the laws that pertain to car accidents. Millions of motorists are on Florida roadways every day and accidents occur each day, so it is important to understand what to do after an auto accident and the laws that may impact a claim.
- Georgia Car Accident Laws
Car accidents in Georgia are often complex matters that require legal support to get through even if the victim is only partially at fault for the collision. The two parties must understand comparative fault, how to process a settlement and what to do after the wreck occurs to ensure that all necessary procedure occurs within the confines of the law.
- Illinois Car Accident Laws
Illinois is an at-fault state, meaning that the insurance company that insures the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying for the damages its insured caused, up to certain policy limits.
- Nevada Car Accident Laws
If you were injured in a car accident in Nevada, you should become familiar with various laws that may affect your claim. The following are important laws and tips to help you understand the process of filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused your accident.
- Texas Car Accident Laws
Every day, motor vehicle accidents occur in Texas. It is important to know what to do after a car accident and the laws that may impact your car accident claim.
Car Accident Law Articles
- What Compensation Will You Get for a Maryland Personal Injury Case?
It might seem like common sense, but there is no such thing as a truly typical Maryland personal injury case. Every injured person is unique, and every accident or injury-causing event is singular.
- Can Pedestrians Hit by Vehicles Pursue Financial Compensation?
Being hit by a car, SUV, or truck while on foot can not only be an incredibly frightening experience, but it can leave a victim with severe injuries that may affect them for a long period of time, or even for the rest of their life. People injured in pedestrian accidents are likely to suffer serious bodily harm, and in addition to receiving expensive medical treatment, their ability to work and support themselves may be affected, and they may experience emotional trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Keeping a Pain Journal After an Accident
Being injured in an accident can be an overwhelming and disorienting experience. In the aftermath of an accident, you may be juggling dealing with the insurance companies involved, attending medical appointments, getting your car repaired, and dealing with work absences, all while trying to recover from your injuries.
- How Many Fatalities From Vehicle Crashes Happen Every Year in Iowa?
Traffic fatalities are a persistent issue in the state of Iowa, claiming the lives of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, there have been over 300 traffic fatalities per year in Iowa for almost a century – a trend the state would like to see change for the better. Fortunately, 2022 is on the course to break this tragic pattern – in part to a campaign by Iowa authorities to create awareness and promote traffic safety.
- Motorcycle Accident Attorneys for Motorcycle Accident Injury Claims in South Carolina
Just about any type of traffic accident has the potential to lead to serious injury. Some accidents, however, may be more likely to cause specific types of injuries. In particular, motorcycle riders involved in motor vehicle accidents often suffer broken or shattered bones, head injuries, and injuries from sliding on the road surface, known as road rash. Similar to bicycle riders who have the right to equal access to our highways, motorcycles lack the protective envelope that an SUV, car or truck has. When the injured motorcyclist is not at fault she or he usually will require a personal injury attorney to help recover full injury compensation.
- Can You Safely Drive If You Have a Cough or a Fever?
Certain aspects of American culture can put people in unnecessarily dangerous situations. The concept of rugged individualism is one such problematic cultural belief. Quite a few people in the United States believe that they must do everything on their own and never ask for help or assistance.
- Watch Out for Brake-Checking Drivers in Colorado, a Dangerous Practice
If you’ve ever been in traffic and found yourself closer to the tail end of another driver than you wanted, you probably backed off. It might take some time to do so if you’re in busy traffic, though, especially if someone is close behind you.
- Audiobooks While Driving: Harmless Hobby or Dangerous Distraction?
Nobody would argue that becoming well-read isn’t a laudable goal. With most of us stretched for time, audiobooks are a convenient way to tackle your reading list. Popular services like Audible make it possible to listen to your books anywhere – including in the car. Yet just how safe is the habit of listening to audiobooks behind the wheel? Is it just another form of potentially deadly distraction? In our multitasking modern times, it’s important to examine whether this technology should be on the road with drivers.
- How Hollywood Star Jayne Mansfield’s Death Changed Trucks’ Design
If you have ever noticed the steel bar beneath the back of a semi truck’s cargo area, you may have wondered about its purpose. There is a very interesting, albeit tragic, story behind what has become known as the “Mansfield bar,” which was designed to prevent passenger vehicles from rolling underneath the trailers of semi-trucks. The bars are also referred to as “under-ride bars” or DOT bars (for the Department of Transportation). They were designed after the gruesome and tragic death of Hollywood blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield.
- Weaving: A Dangerous Driving Tactic With Real Risks
There are many things that people do that are dangerous on the roads. One of the most common issues is weaving. Weaving happens when a driver quickly moves back and forth between lanes. They may cut off other drivers or try to squeeze into spaces that aren’t really spaced out enough for them to merge.