What is negligence?
Negligence is the legal term for any careless behavior that causes, or contributes to, an accident. For example, a person is negligent if he neglected to stop at a stop sign and, as a result, hit your car as you were coming through the intersection.
A person can be considered negligent whenever he or she had a duty to act carefully and failed to do so. (Generally, we all have an obligation to act with ordinary and reasonable care in any given situation -- that is, in a manner that will not foreseeably injure those around us.) For example, a person who drove at night wearing sunglasses would be negligent, because any reasonable driver would know that doing so would increase the chances of causing a traffic accident. For most types of accidents, a person must be found negligent in order to be held legally responsible for another person injuries. If a person behaves negligently and that behavior causes you harm, you can most likely recover compensation for your injuries.
How do I legally prove who was at fault for an accident?
You will probably be making your case to an insurance company, not a court of law, so you do not need legally perfect proof of anything. You will be negotiating informally with the insurance company through letters and phone calls with an insurance adjuster. You just need to make a reasonable argument -- in plain language -- that another person or company was careless (negligent), even if there are also plausible arguments on the other side.
For example, in a car accident case, you do not need to present measurements of tire marks or precise angles of collision. Just point out that the other driver hit you from the rear or turned in front of you. Common knowledge of driving rules tells both you and the insurance company who was at fault. If you make a good argument why the other person was at fault, the adjuster will realize that if the matter wound up in court, there is a good possibility that its insured person would be found legally responsible. Companies usually prefer to pay a reasonable claim settlement sooner, rather than risk having to later pay not only for your injuries, but also court costs and lawyer fees.
Can I get compensation for my injuries if the accident might have been partly my fault?
Even if you might have partly caused an accident yourself, you can still receive compensation from anyone else who partly caused the accident through carelessness (or recklessness). The amount of another person responsibility is determined by comparing his or her carelessness with your own. For example, if you were 25% at fault and the other person was 75% at fault, the other person (or that person insurance company) must pay 75% of the fair compensation for your injuries. This rule is called comparative negligence.
A few states bar you from compensation if your own carelessness substantially contributed to the accident. (This is called contributory negligence.) But in practice, the question of whether and how much your carelessness actually contributed to the accident is a point to negotiate with the insurance adjuster. There is no formula for assigning a percentage to your carelessness, or that of the other person. During claim negotiations, you will come up with one percentage; the adjuster may come up with another percentage and explain why you bear greater responsibility for the accident. The different percentages at which you each arrive then go into the negotiating hopper with all the other factors that determine how much your claim is worth.
Can I get compensation for my injuries if my physical limitations made the accident more likely or made my injuries worse?
Say you have a bad knee, which makes one leg a bit unsteady. Or your eyesight, even with glasses, is not very strong. If you fall on a broken stair, are you still entitled to compensation even though someone with stronger legs or better eyesight might not have fallen? Absolutely. All people, regardless of physical ability, have a legal right to make their way through the world without unnecessary danger. Owners and occupants of property must not put in unnecessary danger any person who might reasonably be expected to be on the property. The same goes for drivers and everyone else -- no one may create unnecessary danger for anyone whose path they might cross.
Many people feel like they shouldn't make a fuss after being in an accident, and should just take care of things through their own insurance coverage. In many cases, though, a car accident lawyer becomes necessary to help you get what you deserve. Although they're not necessary after every accident, or even every major accident, there are many situations in which it can really pay to hire an accident attorney.
First, your need for an accident attorney depends on the severity of the accident and of any resulting injuries. A fender-bender usually does not require a legal case, and you probably won't Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer need a lawyer to handle the situation. On the other hand, a serious accident in which one or more vehicles have been "totaled" will often call for legal counsel to guide you through the often confusing aspects of dealing with insurance companies. If you have been injured in a car accident, a car accident lawyer can help you get the settlement you deserve.
You should never accept any settlement offer without first consulting a lawyer. You need a professional auto accident attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve; many of these lawyers don't get paid unless you successfully negotiate a settlement. Too many victims of negligent drivers avoid going after what they deserve because they don't want to get caught in a long and drawn-out process, but an accident attorney can help everything go smoothly.
Car accident lawyers are often involved when the fault of the accident is questioned. While many accidents are clear-cut cases, in some, it is difficult to determine who is at fault. Whether the accident is major or minor, fault must be determined before insurance companies will pay for the damage or injuries. The types of car accidents vary widely, which can often make it difficult to determine who is truly at fault. If the accident is still being investigated by the police or by insurance agents, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have been in a car accident caused by someone else, a skilled accident lawyer can help to guide you through this process and gain a favorable outcome.
If your insurance company has denied your claim for coverage, but you know that you deserve some compensation for the accident, you need a car accident attorney. Your lawyer can fight for your case, working between you and the other party, their insurance company, and your own insurance company to get your claim settled. The goal of an insurance adjuster is to pay out as little as possible to save the insurance company money. They may make an unreasonably low offer or argue that the accident was your fault. Car accident lawyers are skilled at dealing with insurance companies to get a fair settlement.
At some point in your life, you will probably be involved in some type of car accident. These can be very scary, especially if it's your first accident. In the aftermath of an accident, you may feel overwhelmed and frightened by the possibility of getting your car fixed and healing from your injuries. If ever faced with such a horrible situation, you should know what to do. Not only must you exchange your contact information and insurance numbers with the other party, but you must also know when the skills of a car accident attorney are needed.