If you suffered injuries from a car accident, received medical care, are on the mend, and your vehicle awaits extensive repairs, you are probably wondering how to proceed. Who is liable, and how will you deal with a liability claim? An experienced car accident lawyer can examine the evidence of your accident, determine who was at fault, and help you move forward to receive compensation for your damages and injuries.
What does Liability Mean in a Car Accident Case?
When it comes to a car accident, fault and liability are considered synonymous. A driver who is at fault for causing an accident is liable for their actions and the damages they caused.
But car accidents cannot always be blamed on one or more drivers. There can be other reasons for an accident, such as a vehicle part failure or a poorly maintained road.
There are many types of liability claims. Determining which legal claim to file will depend upon the source and cause of the liability for the accident.
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Accident Liability Claims Against At-Fault Drivers
Filing a legal claim against another driver who hit you is the most common vehicle accident claim. Whether you were behind the wheel of your own car, walking across the street, or out riding your bike and were hit by a vehicle, your attorney will likely file this type of claim for you.
The accident involves a negligent driver, who could have:
- Been driving while distracted
- Been speeding or driving too fast for current conditions
- Missed a stop sign or traffic light
- Been driving while too tired to be behind the wheel
The driver did not intend to cause harm, but they also were not paying attention.
Dram Shop Liability Claims
If a drunk driver hits you, a bar or restaurant that served them alcohol may be held liable under a dram shop act. Businesses that serve alcohol must follow the guidelines of their state, including laws for underage drinking and for serving someone who is already visibly intoxicated.
Each state has its own law regarding dram shop liability. For example, Louisiana law does not recognize a claim for damages against an alcohol vendor. Alabama’s Dram Shop Act, however, does recognize an establishment that serves alcohol as part of the problem. Therefore, businesses in Alabama can be found negligent and assigned a degree of responsibility for a drunk driving accident.
Negotiating dram shop laws can be tricky. You should rely on a local attorney accustomed to state laws to navigate such a claim.
Filing Claims Against Uninsured Motorists
Unfortunately, many people drive despite not having insurance. They are not only breaking the law, but when they have an accident, they have no coverage.
In no-fault auto insurance states, this is less of a problem because each driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical treatment and related issues to an accident no matter who caused it. But in at-fault states such as Louisiana and Mississippi, the difficulty arises because a driver, who is at fault in an accident, has no insurance coverage to pay for injuries and damages. It is then dependent upon the driver’s personal assets to cover the damages from the accident.
It is likely that a liable driver will have little assets if they could not afford insurance. You or your attorney can file a lawsuit, but it may not get you anywhere.
Filing a Product Liability Claim
If a car accident is the result of a defective part, your attorney may suggest filing a claim against the part manufacturer or car company itself. A product liability claim can be due to:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Information defects
A proper investigation into your accident should reveal if there was a defect. Your attorney can see if there have been former cases regarding the same problem. If that is the case, there may already be a mass tort lawsuit in the works.
Your car accident lawyer can advise you on the best course to take.
What Can You Hope to Recover in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
You can seek to recover property damage, injury medical expenses, lost wages while out with your injuries, and non-economic damages for the pain and suffering you have endured.
Depending upon the extent of damages to your vehicle, you should be able to receive full reimbursement for repairs or the replacement for your car if it was totaled in the accident. You can also seek damages to property that was inside the vehicle.
You may also look for reimbursement of the cost of a rental car during the time it takes to repair your vehicle.
Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
In addition, you should receive reimbursement for your medical expenses. These can include:
- Emergency department tests and treatment
- Emergency transportation
- Supportive equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, canes, casting, and splints
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
- Future medical expenses
You can also seek compensation for lost income from being off work and future lost wages.
Non-economic damages in effect are the damages of pain and suffering and emotional trauma you have been dealing with since the accident. Your damages may include a loss of enjoyment of life, loss of companionship, and disfigurement or scarring.
Your experienced car accident attorney can evaluate your non-economic issues and look at former cases to apply a quantitative figure to determine a fair amount for your pain and emotional damages.
Wrongful Death Claim
If you lost a loved one due to a car accident you could file a wrongful death accident claim. Depending upon state laws where the accident happened, an immediate family member such as a spouse, parent, child, or sibling may be eligible to file such a claim.
The potential benefits differ from an regular injury accident in which the injured party pursues the claim themselves. For the wrongful death of a loved one, you can seek reimbursement for their final medical expenses along with funeral and burial costs. You can also claim your own non-economic damages for the pain and suffering you have endured.
When to Call a Car Accident Lawyer
It is best to call a car accident attorney as soon as possible following your vehicle accident. The statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim differs from one state to another. For example, in Louisiana, you have only one year from the date of the accident to file a claim.
It is rarely in your best interest to try to file a legal case on your own. You need a knowledgeable, experienced personal injury law firm to help determine fault and decide what type of liability claim to file. In Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, or Arkansas, call the professional personal injury lawyers of Morris Bart. We are ready to help you.
Why Morris Bart?
Morris Bart has a team of experienced personal injury lawyers across much of the south. We know the area, and have a vast amount of experience within the states we practice.
Don’t hesitate. Contact Morris Bart today!
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