After a motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to compensation when you have suffered damages due to someone else’s negligence.
When an auto accident occurs, you could face thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost income. You may even suffer a chronic or permanent disability that affects you for the rest of your life. If someone caused the accident through negligence, you can hold them and their insurer liable for your losses.
Here is some information about when you may be entitled to auto accident compensation.
Seeking Compensation for a Traffic Injury
If you suffer an injury due to the negligent actions of another, you are entitled to compensation for your damages. Your damages may include both economic damages and non-economic damages.
To prove liability for an auto injury, you and your accident attorney must prove that someone else acted negligently.
Negligence includes four parts:
Every driver has a duty to drive with reasonable care. The duty to drive with reasonable care is defined by traffic laws. A driver must observe traffic laws and drive in a reasonably prudent manner.
Breach of Duty
When a driver fails to drive with reasonable prudence, the driver breaches the duty of care. Every driver is measured according to the same “reasonable driver” standard.
Even if a driver’s behavior follows the law, a jury can still find the behavior to be unreasonably dangerous and, thus, negligent.
For example, a driver might not receive a ticket after causing a crash while texting and driving. But a jury could find that texting while driving breaches the driver’s duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner.
You must suffer damage to obtain compensation. If you do not suffer any damage, you cannot meet this element of a negligence claim. If you suffered an auto injury in a motor vehicle accident, you have damages under this theory of law.
The breach of duty must have caused your damage. Causation requires that the driver’s actions were both a cause-in-fact and the proximate cause of the injury.
Cause-in-fact means that the driver’s actions were in the chain of events that led to your injury. For example, suppose that you suffer a cut in a car accident, and you later lose your foot due to an infection. The car accident was a cause-in-fact of your lost foot.
Proximate cause means that the damage was foreseeable. Again, an amputated foot is a foreseeable consequence of a car accident. It does not matter if the amputation occurred in the accident or later in a hospital.
Compensation You Can Claim After an Auto Accident
Your damages after an auto accident include your economic and non-economic losses.
Economic damages include all of your damages that you can measure financially. Some examples of economic damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost Income
- Vehicle repair or replacement
You can document these losses with bills, estimates, and wage statements.
Non-economic damages include all of the ways your life was diminished by your injuries that you cannot measure financially.
Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Loss of activities
You can use almost any kind of diminishment in your quality of life to support a claim for non-economic losses.
For example, depression, anxiety, insomnia, physical pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other physical and mental problems can arise from your injuries. These effects can entitle you to compensation above your economic damages.
Process for Seeking Compensation
In most cases, you will first seek compensation from an insurer.
In a no-fault state, you will start with your insurer. Your insurer will pay for your medical bills and lost income up to the policy limits.
Only twelve states use a no-fault insurance system. They include:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
No-fault states limit your ability to file a lawsuit unless your injuries meet certain thresholds. Most states release you from the no-fault system and allow you to file a lawsuit if your medical expenses exceed the no-fault policy limits or you suffer a “serious” or “permanent” injury.
The other 38 states use a traditional, fault-based system. Under this system, you file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer. The insurer assesses fault and will either accept or deny your claim.
If the insurer accepts your claim, the claims adjuster will offer to settle your case. Your accident attorney will negotiate with the claims adjuster to obtain fair compensation.
If your attorney cannot settle the case, you will need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to obtain compensation.
The Role of the Accident Attorney
An accident attorney may be essential to assessing your entitlement to compensation. An accident attorney can evaluate the fault for the accident and your damages. Based on this evaluation, an accident attorney will outline your legal options for recovering compensation. The attorney will represent your interests whether the accident attorney is negotiating with insurers or presenting your case to a jury.
To learn more about your entitlement to compensation after a motor vehicle accident, complete the consultation form or call our team. We’ll help to connect you with a skilled lawyer!