Who is Liable for Your Accident Injuries?
Car accident liability claims often resemble a maze and can be filled with complicated elements. You may know that you have the right to seek compensation for both the personal injuries and the property damage that you sustain, but do you understand how to establish liability? What type of liability applies? Equally important, how do you calculate the liability of each party involved in the accident as well as the total amount of compensation that you should receive? Working with a lawyer can help you determine liability and better understand the funds that you may be eligible to receive as a result of your injuries; however, a basic understanding of liability claims can help you move forward more effectively with your case.
Personal Injury Claims
Were you injured as a result of your car accident? You’re not alone. one recent year in Pinellas County, where Clearwater is located, more than 17,700 crashes resulted in 10,654 injuries and 112 fatalities. Commercial vehicle crashes totaled 1,434, while 495 involved pedestrians and 618 involved bicycles. The Clearwater Police Department documented 2,202 accidents, 827 injuries, and 10 fatalities. Commercial vehicles accounted for 200 accidents, with 60 pedestrian crashes and 86 bicycle accidents taking place in Clearwater.
To successfully file a claim, you’ll need to prove that the accident caused your injuries—that is, that you were injured during the accident itself or as a direct result of the events of the accident. For example, if your injuries resulted from medical negligence in the hospital after the accident, the hospital, not the individuals responsible for the accident, will bear responsibility for those injuries. On the other hand, if your injuries were a direct result of the accident, you may claim the following:
- Ambulance and transportation expenses. Were you transported to the hospital via ambulance from the scene of the accident? Ambulance costs may create high initial fees for your medical bills. Even if you only sustain minor injuries, you may still require ambulance transport.
- Immediate medical expenses at the hospital. Emergency room bills often mount quickly. You may require x-rays, scans, and other tests to help determine the full extent of your injuries. At the hospital, you may also receive immediate treatment for your injuries, including durable medical equipment, like crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs, that will help maintain mobility while you’re recovering from your injuries.
- Ongoing cost of medical care. Broken bones, internal bleeding, and organ damage may all require surgical treatment, as well as long-term medical care. You may remain hospitalized for quite some time, or you may need to attend multiple visits with your doctor to receive full treatment for your injuries. You may require physical therapy to help regain strength, flexibility, and mobility as your injury heals.
- Cost of long-term care. In some cases, you may receive injuries in your accident that are permanent or that involve the need for long-term medical care. If you require long-term care to help with your injuries, including skilled nursing care, a caregiver to help with daily tasks around the home, or ongoing medical assistance, you may receive compensation for those costs.
- Durable medical equipment and alterations to your home and transportation. In some cases, your injuries may require you to make modifications to your home or vehicle to remain mobile. You may need to widen doorways, install ramps, or add mobility assistance to help you get up and down stairs. You may need a vehicle that is specially modified to allow you to operate it without using your legs or your feet. In some cases, you may need to use durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs, and safety bars, to help improve your ability to engage in daily activities independently. Compensation for these purchases may add to your personal injury claim.
- Lost wages. Significant injuries often prevent you from working. How much time you miss at work may depend on the extent of your injuries and the type of work that you perform. For example, an injury to your lower body may not prevent you from performing everyday work at a desk job long-term, though it may temporarily prevent you from working a normal schedule, especially if your injury causes a significant amount of pain. If you work a manual job, on the other hand, you may miss a great deal of time at work before you’re able to return to your normal schedule. Traumatic brain injury can make it difficult to complete even the responsibilities associated with a desk job, especially if you struggle with confusion or agitation. The financial damages associated with lost time at work can leave you struggling, especially as medical bills mount. Most injured individuals will include those wages as part of their personal injury claim.
- Lost earning potential. Some injuries may permanently impact your ability to return to work in your former capacity. Paralysis, for example, may prevent you from returning to a factory job that requires you to stand, walk, or transport heavy items through the bulk of the day. Traumatic brain injury, especially with lingering effects, may prevent you from performing your normal job duties. In this case, you may receive compensation for lost earning potential as part of your personal injury claim. Generally, insurance companies base lost earning potential on your salary at the time of your accident. You may also be able to recover funds for upcoming promotions or raises, but many insurance companies resist paying out these amounts.
- Funeral and burial expenses. Not all personal injury claims are filed by the individual who was injured. In some cases, family members and beneficiaries may file a claim on a deceased individual’s behalf. If you have a loved one who was killed in a car accident, you may recover funeral and burial expenses through a claim on his or her behalf. You may also recover funds to help cover loss of companionship or loss of the individual’s support.
Personal injury lawsuits are often limited by the maximum amounts set by the responsible individual’s insurance policy. In many cases, however, working with a lawyer can help you more effectively establish exactly how much compensation you should receive for your injuries as well as increase the odds that you’ll receive the maximum amount allowed by the plan.
In addition to personal injury, many individuals experience property damage as a result of car accidents. Even a minor fender bender can cause significant damage to your vehicle and other items in the vehicle at the time of the accident. A property damage claim may include several different facets, including:
- Damage to your vehicle. Generally, a trusted mechanic or garage associated with the insurance company will assess damage to the vehicle and determine whether it can be repaired. The garage will give an estimate of repair costs. The insurance company will then decide whether they will pay out the amount needed to repair the vehicle or if they will total the vehicle and provide you with the funds to replace it. Sometimes, even seemingly minor damage to a vehicle may go deeper than the surface. You may find that vehicle damage is more expensive than initially thought. Having a qualified mechanic evaluate your vehicle will help ensure that you receive all the funds needed to make it road-worthy again. A mechanic will also identify potential problems with the vehicle that could lead to an accident in the future.
- Rental car costs. In some cases, you may need your vehicle to complete daily responsibilities, including caring for children and traveling to and from work. If your vehicle repair takes a significant amount of time, you may receive funds to help pay for a rental car while you wait. You may also negotiate the cost of a rental car for a short period of time while you go shopping for a new vehicle. A rental car may help you conduct the activities of daily life while you wait for your vehicle to be repaired, especially if you drive for a living. Payments for rental cars, however, generally only last for a short period of time, so you’ll need to replace your car quickly.
- Car seat replacement. If you have small children who still ride in car seats, you’ll need to check the manufacturer’s recommendations concerning their seats after an accident. Some manufacturers require owners to replace car seats after even a minor accident. Others will provide recommendations based on the severity of the accident and the condition of the vehicle. Car seats may seem minor in comparison to the cost of replacing a vehicle, but for many parents, the cost of a replacement car seat can cause financial difficulties. Luckily, you may be able to include it as part of your property damage claim.
- Replacing other items in the vehicle. Many people travel every day with expensive items. You may, for example, keep your cell phone in your pocket and your laptop in a bag in the front seat. When these items are damaged in a car accident, you may include them as part of your property damage claims. Carefully evaluate any items that were in the vehicle at the time of the accident, including your clothing, sports gear, and electronics. While you may not receive compensation for every small item, you will likely receive compensation for large or expensive items damaged in the car accident.
Who Is Liable for Damages You Suffered?
To recover funds in a legal claim, you need to first establish who is liable for your accident and your injuries. If you were responsible for your accident, the funds you can receive will depend on the type of insurance coverage you carry and the limits of your policy. If you bear any liability in the accident, you may have your compensation lowered based on that percentage. There are, however, several other entities and individuals who may bear liability in your accident. Understanding who is responsible for your accident can help you better assess who you need to file a claim against.
- The other driver. Most often, the other driver is the one held liable for your personal and financial damages in a car accident. That driver may have driven under the influence, driven distracted, or simply failed to follow the rules of the road. Other drivers may also bear liability if they failed to notice you or performed a dangerous maneuver on the road that caused the accident.
- The driver’s employer. If the other driver was on-the-job and caused your accident, his or her employer may bear partial liability for your injuries. Employers bear responsibility for hiring responsible, capable drivers who are not likely to cause accidents and injuries. Employers must also provide reasonable working conditions, including performance standards that remove a driver from the road who has driven for too long, struggles to stay awake or presents a danger to others on the road.
- Bars and restaurants. Drunk driving accidents cause higher levels of injury and physical damage than other types of accidents. Not only that, drinking and driving can significantly increase the risk of an accident. If your accident included a drunk driver, consider where they accessed the alcohol. If a bar or restaurant over-served them, it may bear partial liability for the accident.
- Vehicle manufacturers. In some cases, vehicle manufacturers may sell cars that contain faulty parts or allow cars on the road that are prone to accident. If the manufacturer fails to take appropriate care with regard to a vehicle, and that leads to an accident, the manufacturer may then bear responsibility in your accident case.
- Mechanics. Just as vehicle manufacturers should exercise care with regards to the vehicles they allow on the road, mechanics bear responsibility for ensuring that the vehicles they service are as safe as possible. If a mechanic fails to properly repair a vehicle or misses a problem that results in an accident, the mechanic may bear partial liability for the accident.
If you’ve suffered injuries in a car accident, you may need to work with a lawyer to establish who is liable for your specific injuries. Knowing who bears financial responsibility for your claim will help you better pursue the funds you need to move forward with your life after an accident.
Work With a Lawyer to Improve Your Claim Results
Were you injured in a car accident? Are you struggling to pay your medical bills and move on with your life? Call the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at (727) 451-6900, or contact us online. Our primary goal is that our clients recover compensation for the full cost of their injuries.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765