When a car crash occurs, you are often able to say that it was not your fault because you know that you were obeying traffic laws and driving responsibly when it happened. However, proving that to an insurance company, the police, or a judge can be much harder. To establish fault, they have to investigate the available evidence to study how the accident occurred. Depending on their findings, they may attribute all of the fault to one driver or the other, or they may assign a percentage of the fault to each driver. The amount of damages you are eligible to collect is determined by how much responsibility you share for the accident. For that reason, it is incredibly important to have a skilled car accident lawyer on your side who can ensure that all relevant factors are being considered when deciding fault.
How Does Negligence Relate to Determining Fault?
Determining fault is key in car accident claims because it is integral to ascertaining the viability of the case and how much may be awarded in damages. When establishing whether a driver was at fault, evidence is critical. Evidence may include photos of the accident scene, police reports, witness interviews, and reconstructions. The at-fault driver generally was negligent in the operation of their vehicle. If they were not driving safely and following the rules of the road, this could indicate fault. Examples of negligent driving may include, but are not limited to:
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Disregarding traffic or weather conditions
- Driving the wrong way
- Driving while intoxicated
- Failing to signal for a turn
- Operating a vehicle recklessly
- Merging incorrectly
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Personal injury lawsuits are meant to hold the at-fault party liable for your damages. If the other driver was partially or entirely at fault for the accident, you might be eligible to receive compensation. This can even apply if it was a single-car crash. For example, your car may have had a malfunction that caused the crash, and the manufacturer may be liable.
There are two main types of damages that can be recovered in a car accident claim. The first is actual compensatory damages. These compensate you for financial losses that happened due to your injury. Examples of compensatory damages include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Vehicle and property replacement or repair
General compensatory damages are the second type of damages awarded in a car accident claim. These are non-monetary losses you suffered from the car accident. Typically, the seriousness of your injuries and the length of time they will impact you determines the amount of these damages. Examples of general compensatory damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical bills
- Loss of future earning potential
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some rare cases where the negligent behavior by the at-fault driver was highly egregious, the court may decide to award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are meant to dissuade others from committing the same actions as the defendant.
Why Consult a Lawyer if You Have Experienced a Car Accident?
You should not be held responsible for expenses incurred for an accident that was not your fault. Of course, the other driver and their insurance company will try to claim that you were at fault so they can avoid paying you the full amount you are entitled to. A personal injury lawyer can gather the necessary evidence to prove who was at fault and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. We understand that the circumstances of every car crash are different, so contact our law office today for a free consultation about your accident and legal rights.