Motor Vehicle Accidents - An Overview
13,000 people have been injured or killed since 1990 in crashes caused by aggressive driving. If you have been a victim of aggressive driving, click here to tell us about your case.
Motor Vehicle Accidents - An Overview
Cases arising out of automobile accidents are by far the most common type of personal injury case in our court system today. This is not surprising, given that every 10 seconds, someone in the United States is involved in a car accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Except in those states where legislation eliminating fault as an issue has been passed (no-fault laws), these cases are typically governed by the law of negligence. Generally, people who operate automobiles must exercise "reasonable care under the circumstances." A failure to use reasonable care is considered negligence. A person who negligently operates a vehicle may be required to pay for any damages, either to a person or property, caused by his or her negligence. The injured party, known as the plaintiff, is required to prove that the defendant was negligent, that the negligence caused the accident, and that the accident caused the plaintiff's injuries.
As with other types of accidents, figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was negligent. In many cases, your instincts will tell you that a driver, cyclist or pedestrian acted carelessly, but not what rule or rules that person violated. An attorney will look to a number of sources to help you determine who was at fault for your accident, such as police reports, state traffic laws, and witnesses.
Dealing With Insurance Companies After An Accident
How does the insurance claims process work?
The claims process usually proceeds in predictable steps. Before you file a claim, you or your attorney will notify people who may be responsible for the accident that you have been hurt and intend to file a claim for your injuries. This increases your chances of getting a quick settlement and prevents others from later saying that your claim unfairly surprised them.
DO'S AND DON'TS: Insurance Claims
DO call your agent as soon as a covered event takes place. As soon as you get home from the car accident, or even before you go to the doctor, call your agent.
DO review and understand your coverage before talking to your insurer or your agent. Read the "Coverage" and "Exclusion" sections of you policy in particular.
Frequently Asked Questions about Automobile Insurance
Q: What is liability insurance?
A: If a driver is at fault in a car accident, liability insurance pays for the damages that he/she caused to someone else. It does not pay for his/her own damages. There are two kinds of liability insurance: bodily injury and property damage. Bodily injury expenses include medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and lost wages. Property damage expenses include the repair or replacement of any items belonging to another person that are damaged or destroyed.
Virtually every state requires some level of liability coverage. To find out what your state requires, ask your attorney.
Q: Who is usually covered by automobile liability insurance?
A: Liability insurance usually covers the following people:
Named insured. This is the person or people named in the policy, no matter what car they are driving.
Spouse. Even if the spouse of the named insured is not named on a policy, liability insurance almost always covers him or her, unless the couple does not live together.
Other relative. This refers to anyone living in the household with the named insured who is related to the insured by blood, marriage or adoption, usually including a legal ward or foster child.
Anyone driving the insured vehicle with permission. Someone who steals the car is not covered.
Proving Fault In Motor Vehicle Accidents
As with other types of accidents, figuring out who is at fault in a traffic accident is a matter of deciding who was careless or "negligent." In many cases, your instincts will tell you that a driver, cyclist or pedestrian acted carelessly, but not what rule or rules that person violated. Your argument that another person was at fault for an accident can be strengthened if you obtain some "official" support for your conclusion. An attorney will look to a number of sources to help you determine who was at fault for your accident and obtain the official support you need. Here are a number of places he or she may look for such support.
What To Do If You Are In A Motor Vehicle Accident
Do you know what you should do if you are in an accident with another car? What if you are a pedestrian involved in an auto accident? When a car accident happens, injuries may be severe and emotions may be high. However, there are important things that must be taken care of both at the scene of any accident and following an accident. The following is a list of things that should be done, if at all possible, when any accident occurs.
Motor Vehicle Accidents Resource Links
Federal Trade Commission
Provides consumer education materials on automobiles.
Federal Citizen Information Center
Features consumer information on cars.
Insurance Information Institute
Includes information on auto safety, auto insurance, teen drivers and more.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety / Highway Loss Data Institute
Features vehicle ratings, safety facts, publications and more.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Provides crash statistics and articles about automobile accidents, product safety, and child passenger safety.