A car accident can be an extremely traumatizing and stressful event. In addition to the initial shock, a car accident may impact many aspects of an individual’s life including:
- Property, including the vehicle;
- Finances; and/or
- Insurance premiums.
Resolving the issues that arise from each of these categories requires a different approach for each. This may leave an individual overwhelmed, adding more stress to an already upsetting situation.
One helpful way to alleviate some of the stress is to hire a car accident lawyer . A lawyer can help guide an individual through the processes for resolving each issue associated with the accident. A lawyer can also determine whether or not an individual has a claim to recover any damages as a result of the accident.
What are Some Common Causes of Auto Accidents?
Automobile accident studies have shown that neck injuries can be sustained from accidents that occur as low as 5 miles per hour. While individuals may be injured at this speed, studies have also shown that the majority of vehicles are damaged in accidents of 10 miles per hour or higher.
There are many causes of automobile accidents. The most common cause is negligence. In some accidents, only one of the drivers involved is at fault. In other cases, multiple drivers may be at fault for the accident.
An accident victim may have a claim for negligence in certain cases. These may include when another driver:
- Fails to stop and look both ways at a stop sign prior to proceeding;
- Is texting while driving instead of watching the road; and/or
- Eating a meal and/or using their hands for anything other than driving.
Other examples of causes of car accident causes may include:
- Poor weather conditions;
- Vehicle defects;
- Vehicle mechanical issues;
- Poor visibility, as related to factors other than weather, such as trees and/or bushes blocking the view of the road;
- Driving under the influence and/or driving while intoxicated;
- Issues with a road sign and/or traffic light;
- Road work; and/or
- Other unpredictable factors that a driver may encounter.
Not every injury will appear at the time of the accident. Symptoms that are a result of the accident may not develop until a later time. Although symptoms may be delayed, the injury may still be severe. Some studies show that injury symptoms may remain for a long period after an accident, sometimes months or even years.
What Steps can be Taken to Reduce the Chance of an Accident?
There are many steps that may be taken to reduce the chances of having an automobile accident. The majority of automobile accidents occur when a driver is distracted, tired and/or intoxicated. The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration provides the following figures for how often a driver is distracted by certain activities, including:
- Talking to passengers – 81%;
- Playing with the radio or CD player – 66%;
- Eating or drinking – 49%; and
- On a cellular phone – 25%.
Automobile Accidents: Obtaining a Copy of the Police Report
If an individual is involved in an automobile accident, it is imperative that they report the accident to law enforcement. A law enforcement officer will write a report that documents the accident. If a police report is not generated, it may cause issues such as:
- Difficulty in identifying the party responsible for the accident;
- Identifying and locating witnesses to the accident;
- The date of the accident; and/or
- The location of the accident.
How Do I Get a Copy of the Police Report?
In most cases, in order to obtain a copy of the police report related to an individual’s accident, they will likely have to go to the police station and fill out a form requesting a copy of the report. There may be a small fee to obtain a copy of the report.
The laws regarding the release of police reports will vary by state. However, in most cases, an individual must be a party to the accident in order to obtain a copy of the accident report.
What Do I Need to Get a Copy of the Police Report?
In general, an individual will need to know the date and time of the accident and the individuals involved in the accident in order to obtain a copy of the accident report. The request for a copy of the report will be processed following these steps.
If an individual is eligible to receive a copy of the accident report, it will generally be sent to them in 2 to 5 business days. In some jurisdictions, it will be available immediately. It may be available in electronic and/or paper form, depending on the department from which it is obtained.
What are Some Defenses to Car Accident Lawsuits?
There are several defenses that may be available in car accident lawsuits. In accidents where there are multiple drivers who may be at fault for injuries that were sustained or damages, one driver may be excused from liability if a defense applies to their situation.
There are several examples of situations when a driver may be able to assert a defense. These include:
- A lack of proof of culpability;
- A lack of fault on the driver’s part;
- An emergency;
- Assumption of the risk;
- Contributory or comparative negligence;
- The statute of limitations expired;
- Involuntary intoxication; and/or
- A failure to mitigate damages.
There is a lack of proof when an element of negligence is missing. If one element is missing, negligence cannot be proven. It may also occur when there is not enough evidence to prove the driver’s culpability. This defense can be used as an affirmative defense and may prevent a driver from being held liable in an automobile accident.
The lack of fault on the driver’s part defense can limit the amount of damage for which a defendant is liable. This defense may be applied in cases where a defendant can demonstrate that the plaintiff was the actual cause of the accident.
Another possible available defense is that emergency conditions were present at the time of the accident. This may include situations such as rushing an individual to a hospital for medical care. If these types of conditions were present, it may be possible to drop the case entirely, or at least have a lighter sentence imposed on the defendant.
A defense of assumption of the risk may be available when the defendant can show that the plaintiff knew of a risk and still acted regardless of that fact. Assumption of the risk may be either express or implied.
In some jurisdictions, a plaintiff may be barred from recovering damages if they contributed to their own injuries. In others, damages can be reduced based on each party’s percentage of fault.
The majority of states have a time limit on filing a claim, known as a statute of limitations. These may vary from 2 to 6 years. If the plaintiff files their claim outside of the time frame provided, that may be used as a defense.
Involuntary intoxication may be an available defense if the defendant can demonstrate they were intoxicated against their will and had no knowledge of the intoxication that caused the accident. Involuntary intoxication can occur when a drug is placed in an individual’s beverage without their knowledge.
Failure to mitigate damages may also be used as a defense in some cases. This defense is likely more difficult to demonstrate. It is used in a case where the plaintiff did not attempt to lessel their damages. For example, if the plaintiff failed to seek medical care which led to them sustaining more serious injuries.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Although you most likely do not need the assistance of a lawyer to obtain a copy of an accident report, if you are involved in an automobile accident, you should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as you possibly can. A lawyer will be able to review your case, review the accident and determine if a claim is available. A lawyer can also determine what defenses and/or remedies may be available and represent you during any court proceedings, if necessary. There may be a statute of limitations on some claims, so it is important to seek help immediately.