What is Car Accident Law?
When two vehicles collide, there are many different legal rules that come into place to determine who is at fault, how much money they might owe from damages or additional costs, and any other legal situations that might arise from potential crimes or negligence. All of these different situations can make car accident law an incredibly complex issue. Luckily, there are highly skilled West Virginia car accident attorneys who are perfectly equipped to deal with these issues. If you think that you might have a car accident case, then you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. For now though, here’s an overview of some of the finer details in accident law and how they might be relevant to your situation.
How to Get Compensation
While each state might have its own unique laws that specifically refer to vehicles in a collision, there is still enough of a similarity between all of them that it can be generalized. In general, there are four basic elements that all cases must prove in order to find fault with a driver and entitle the plaintiff to compensation. The four elements can be best summarized as the driver’s responsibility, a breach in this responsibility, causation of the accident that stemmed from this breach in responsibility, and a quantifiable harm that resulted from the previously mentioned accident. Individually, these elements can be easy to prove, but proving the link between all of them at once can be significantly more difficult. It’s for this reason that finding West Virginia car accident attorneys comes so highly recommended.
Of course, there are certain components of each element that can be proven with relatively little difficulty. For instance, most courts will quickly accept that a driver had a responsibility while they were behind the wheel to be cautious and attentive. The difficulty for the plaintiff comes from proving that the driver then breached this responsibility by performing in some way that was in direct conflict with their established duty. Typically, this is done through the use of eyewitness testimonies from the time period surrounding the accident, or through video surveillance recordings of the area during the accident. Similarly, the plaintiff may also use other, more circumstantial, evidence, such as skid marks on the road following the accident, or blood alcohol readings taken by the police at the scene of the accident.
It’s worth noting though that a case isn’t won just because the defendant breached their responsibility as a driver and acted poorly on the road. Instead, a case must go one step further to prove that it was because of this misconduct that the accident involving the plaintiff occurred. To put it another way, just because someone was driving poorly on the road on the day of your accident, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the one at fault for it. This nuance is an important distinction, but it’s also one of the factors that provides plaintiffs with some difficulty throughout the course of the case. Typically, this is done through the use of a medical examination. Through the course of the medical examination, it is hoped that a sufficient link between the injuries sustained and the injuries expected from the accident can be found.
Assuming that a plaintiff has successfully proven everything up until this point, the last step for the plaintiff is to prove that they actually suffered harm. Just because an accident “almost” caused damage to the plaintiff or the car is not enough for damages to be rewarded. Once any basis of harm has been established to the plaintiff though, they qualify for a variety of damages, including any medical expenses they paid for, money unearned from lost wages while recovering, and an established amount based on their pain and grief suffered from the accident.
How to Behave Following an Accident
If you find yourself in an accident, you may be wondering what your next steps are. Given how much you need to prove throughout the course of an accident case, it may seem overwhelming at first. With that in mind, here are a few things that you should keep in mind after an accident, so that you’ll be fully prepared.
First, avoid making any statements about who is to blame for the accident. One of the most common mistakes in these types of cases is that someone admits some form of blame immediately following an accident, without any consideration for the actual facts of the case. If you do this, you can significantly hurt your case, and potentially even rule it out completely. It’s understandable that you might not have your bearings following an accident, but you should still try to be as silent as possible when it comes to determining fault. If you need medical attention, or something similar, then by all means be communicative about that. Just don’t admit fault, and definitely don’t apologize for anything. Even an apology can later be misconstrued in court as an indirect admission of guilt.
In addition to keeping your wits about you, you should make as many notes as possible about the scene of the accident. This includes noting the weather, the nature of traffic that day, and any additional circumstances that might have influenced the conditions of the road or the driver’s state of mind. If you can, try to get actual photographs of the scene before you leave. With mobile phones, this is much easier than it used to be. Similarly, try to note down the names of any police officers you come into contact with after the accident. Later, you will be able to easily contact them in order to get copies of their police reports on the accident. This additional information can then be used to strengthen your case.
As previously mentioned, you should absolutely seek out medical attention after a car accident. While many people think that they might have emerged from an accident unscathed, the truth is that most people don’t realize the damage that whiplash has done to them until it’s too late. You may not think you need medical attention right after an accident, but even days later you might realize the mistake you’ve made. Avoid it the first time by seeking out medical attention as soon as you get the chance.
Of course, after you’ve taken care of yourself, the only step left for you to take is to contact a personal injury and accident lawyer. Once they’ve taken over your case, you can rest easy knowing that you’re in good hands. They’ll not only handle the specifics of your case for you, they’ll also represent your interests in case insurance representatives or the opposing counsel try to bully you into making an unfavorable decision. They’ll protect you and pursue your interests so that you can instead focus on recovering and staying healthy.
If you have a concern about your legal rights, remedies, and obligations contact the experienced lawyers of the Law Office of Freeman & Chiartas.