Car Accident Law, Lawsuits
Car-Accidents.com Home Page
Main Picture Gallery
Find Crash Attorneys
Car Accident Causes
Car Accident Law and Lawsuits
Each year there are over 6 million car accidents in the United States, with as many as 3 million people injured and over 40,000 killed. Chances are that you will be in a car accident at some point in your lifetime.
If you are involved in a car accident, you should protect your rights by following some simple rules at the scene, and if there are injuries you should contact a personal injury lawyer. The article below provides an overview of the legal process after an accident.
Car Accident Lawsuits, Law and Legal Claims
In some cases no lawyer will be needed, most often in accidents where there is only minor property damage. These claims are usually handled by getting an estimate for the damages and presenting a claim to the insurance company. In some cases the insurance companies involved will debate who was at fault- but the majority of these claims will not require legal help.
However if there are personal injuries, even relatively minor ones that require any medical care, there is usually need for legal help to properly present paperwork, get medical bills and car damages promptly paid. If the injuries are serious a lawyer will almost always need to be involved.
Bringing a Car Accident Claim:
A auto accident claim largely rests on two factors: the issue of who is at fault (called the question of liability) and the amount of the damages. The liability issue determines the relative strength of the case- lawyers and insurance companies will argue who was at fault in the accident. The second component of the claim is the question of damages which consist of damage to the vehicles and property, medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and future lost earning capacity. The size of the damages in car accident related personal injury claims are the major issue in most legal claims, with the insurance company downplaying the extent of the injuries and the attorney for the injured arguing that the harm suffered justifies a certain settlement amount.
The vast majority of car accident lawsuits will involve two vehicles. In most two vehicle collisions it is usually clear which the driver was at fault. Insurance companies use guidelines called Standards of Fault, which are based on which vehicle had the right of way at a point in the road. Witnesses are sometimes used to overturn these standards but usually reinforce what the accident indicates. If there is no clear driver at fault the claim will be harder to prove and the insurance company can use this to put downward pressure on the ultimate settlement amount knowing that the potential risk of no award will force a final lower settlement amount. If the injuries are very serious and the amount of potential payout is six or seven figures the insurance will actively look for any shred of evidence no matter how small that might indicate that their insured in not the one at fault.
Thus, in serious injury claims the insurance companies will usually deny any liability or responsibility for the accident ( even is cases where fault is reasonably clear), while often offering a low ball figure. At this stage an attorney will be needed to prepare the case and threaten to file a lawsuit. Very often the lawyer will actually need to file a lawsuit before an insurance company will even make a "serious offer."
Insurance Coverage Matters
Before an attorney gets started in filing a claim, the availability and the total amount of insurance coverage will be a major factor in deciding whether the claim can go forward. Typical insurance issues people serious injured face are: 1) no insurance coverage (Uninsured motorists), 2) insufficient insurance coverage (underinsured Driver), or 3) Denial of claims, Bad Faith/Tough/Difficult Insurance Companies.
1) Uninsured Driver. In many cases the driver who is legally responsible for the accident has absolutely no insurance of any kind. In these circumstances it is usually extremely difficult for a person who is injured in the crash to get anything close to appropriate compensation. If the injuries are catastrophic or fatal an attorney will hire an investigator to look for other parties responsible- other insurance "umbrella" policies, related homeowners owners or family members, companies etc but they often come up empty and the the injured person has no way to recover any damages. Because there are so many uninsured drivers you should always buy "uninsured motorist coverage" under your own auto insurance policy.
2) Underinsured Driver. In the event of a very serious injury or death the majority of drivers will have inadequate insurance coverage, usually the minimum required by state law often only around $20,000. This often means that the worst drivers carry the least insurance because they cannot afford the high premiums resulting from their poor driving records. You should always purchase underinsured motorist coverage if it is offered, so in the event you are injured by a another driver without proper insurance you can collect against your own insurance company.
3) Insurance Denial of Claims and Bad Faith. In order to save money insurance companies will often stretch and use imaginative arguments to deny claims. Sometimes these claims denials or defenses are so beyond being reasonable that they amount to what is called legal bad faith- when an insurance company improper fights a legitimate claims or denies one. In most cases these matters are handled through litigation in the courts.
Statute of Limitations in Car Accident Cases
After being in a car accident an injured person should hire an attorney and begin the legal process as soon as possible. Waiting will usually weaken a potential claim through loss of evidence, loss of fresh memories and disorganized paperwork and medical records and the inability of the attorney to direct the process. Waiting too long may result in the case being completely barred by the statute of limitations of the state where the accident took place. Many people who contact Car-Accidents.com have accidents that took place years previously and are looking for counsel most of these cases are barred by the Statutes of Limitations because of the passage of time- in addition in real world practice most attorneys do not want to take "old" cases that usually have unresolved issues, time pressure and a lowered value from insurance companies.
If you have been injured an accident you should contact a personal injury lawyer at Car-Accidents.com
Car Crash Pictures Arranged by Make and Model
Look at these galleries for specific makes!
Please send us your Automobile Crash Photos! ANY Make, ANY Model. Real Stories from Real People. Send Yours to Car-Accidents.com
Find Lawyers | Car Accident Statistics | Car Accident Pictures | Legal Rights and Info | Submit Your Case
Head and Brain Injury | Accident Reconstruction | Seat Belts save lives | Rules of Conduct at the Accident Scene
Uninsured drivers | Car Accident Cases | Whiplash
Return to the Home Page
All contents copyright Car-Accidents.com