In late November of 2018, the number of electric vehicles being driven on U.S. roadways had finally reached the 1 million mark. That number has since steadily risen, with an expected projection that by the year 2030, approximately 18.7 million electric vehicles will be on the road.
If you are not already familiar with the concept, an electric vehicle is a type of automobile which uses an electric motor that is often powered by a series of rechargeable batteries. Unlike standard cars, electric vehicles do not have an internal combustion motor and therefore do not require oil or gasoline in order to operate. Electric cars also tend to be quieter and more efficient than traditional motor vehicles.
The course of events leading up to an electric car accident may occur in much the same manner as those involving a vehicle equipped with an internal combustion motor. However, electric cars may also pose additional safety concerns in a collision because of their electrical components.
Some common issues that electric cars may present that standard vehicles do not during a car accident can include:
- Electrical fires;
- Chemical exposure;
- Electric shock; and/or
- Extreme heat exposure.
There may also be a risk that a vehicle’s electronic or computer system malfunctions and causes additional injuries to persons and/or damages to surrounding property in an accident. Nevertheless, it remains that the potential for electrical fires and to chemical exposure are the largest concerns associated with electric car accidents.
For instance, an electric car has a rechargeable battery (or multiple batteries). When an accident occurs, the batteries can malfunction and cause the frame of the car to become electrically charged. This, in turn, can place the driver of the vehicle and other passengers in serious danger.
In some cases, it can even endanger the lives of rescue workers since they run the risk of being electrocuted when trying to help trapped passengers escape from the vehicle.
Finally, an accident can also damage an electric car’s complex battery system. This could lead to random fires, even when the accident appears to be minor. If this happens and the car’s battery is damaged, then it could potentially leak harmful and corrosive chemicals as well. Exposure to such chemicals can lead to serious injuries, such as the above mentioned exposure to extreme heat, chemical burns, and various other related injury or health concerns.
Thus, if you have been injured in an electrical car accident, you should contact a local personal injury lawyer for further assistance immediately. A lawyer will be able to assess the facts of the incident and can determine whether you have a viable claim. Your lawyer can also assist you in recovering damages for your injuries. The longer you wait to contact a lawyer, the more difficult it will be to file a lawsuit or recover damages.
Who May be Held Liable for an Electric Car Accident or Injury?
The methods used in determining who may be held liable for an electric car accident or injury are very similar (if not the same) as those employed in accidents involving internal combustion cars.
For example, if the driver of an electric car was behaving in a negligent manner while operating it, then they may be held liable for any injuries and/or property damage sustained by the other party. The same principle would be applied in a standard vehicle accident.
However, with electric cars, liability may also be attached to other parties. For instance, if an electric car injury can be traced back to a manufacturing, design, or other product defect, then the designer or manufacturer may be held responsible for a person’s injuries as well. This has been especially true in cases where an electric car caught fire and the engine spontaneously combusted due to some sort of battery or other part defect.
Some other products liability issues that may arise in connection with an electric car lawsuit include:
- Warning defects: Warning defects occur when labels, instructions, or other informational statements that are used to inform a consumer about the risks concerning a certain product are either inadequate or not included. As such, if an electric car is not sold with the proper safety warnings or safety risk information, then this could lead to a lawsuit against the manufacturer (or other party responsible for providing warning labels).
- An example of a warning defect would be if the manual to an electric car did not contain key safety information, such as how to properly operate the vehicle, the steps to charge a battery, and many other important safety instructions.
- Various manufacturing defects: Manufacturing defects may refer to errors that occur on the assembly line for car parts or during the construction stages of a vehicle. For example, if an electric car manufacturer failed to include a seat belt or airbag while assembling the car and their error causes serious injuries during a car accident, then they could be sued as a result of their actions.
It is important to note that laws concerning motor vehicle accidents and products liability issues will often vary from state to state. Thus, before a person files a lawsuit for an electric car injury, they should be sure to review the law in their area and to find out whether their local court has any special filing requirements for these types of cases.
Are There any Legal Remedies Available for an Electric Car Accident?
There are several legal remedies available that persons who were involved in an electric car accident may be able to recover for their injuries. Many of these legal remedies are similar to the ones that victims of internal combustion car accidents can receive.
There are two primary factors that will influence what an injured party can recover if they are successful in bringing a lawsuit: the laws of the jurisdiction wherein the accident occurred and the facts of a specific case. In some instances, the injured party may even be able to cite multiple claims, such as products liability, third-party negligence, and/or automobile insurance issues.
Again, depending on the laws and circumstances surrounding a case, the victim may be able to recover one or more of the following legal remedies for an electric car accident:
- Special or economic damages: Special or economic damages are monetary damage awards that are meant to reimburse a victim for any out-of-pocket costs they were essentially forced to spend to treat their injuries. For instance, medical or hospital bills, property damage, physical therapy costs, and so on.
- General or noneconomic damages: General or noneconomic damages are a different kind of monetary damage award that is used to compensate a victim for injuries that are harder to quantify like pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damage awards are issued less frequently and may be capped by a state damages law. These are also monetary damage awards, but they are intended to serve as a deterrent against similar conduct in the future. For example, a victim may be awarded punitive damages when a defendant-driver behaves in a manner that is so shocking to the conscience that it warrants an extra punishment.
- In this instance, that extra punishment would be having to pay additional funds on top of what was already awarded in economic and noneconomic damages.
As for the exact sum of damages that a person receives, this will be calculated in accordance with a number of factors, which include:
- The severity of a person’s injuries (taking into account any pre-existing injuries or conditions they had prior to the accident);
- The limitations set by state statutes regarding damages awards;
- The alleged degree of recklessness or negligence the other drive displayed in causing their injuries; and
- The types of expenses that an injured party incurred as a result of the accident.
The legal issues that form the basis of a lawsuit can also affect the legal remedies received. For example, in a products liability lawsuit where a party is claiming a manufacturing defect in the car caused their injuries, the victim may be able to recover non-monetary remedies (i.e., equitable remedies) as well, such as requesting that a judge order a recall of the product. In this instance, that would mean recalling a specific electric car model or part.
Additionally, product liability claims can lead to a class action lawsuit and a large settlement award if many consumers have been injured by the supposed defect.
One other set of remedies that electric car accident victims may be able to recover are those which a party receives when a loved one has died in an accident. These are known as wrongful death lawsuits and are typically filed by a member of the victim’s family. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family may be awarded to cover expenses like funeral costs, damages related to loss of consortium, and loss of benefits.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with an Electric Car Accident Claim?
Accidents involving electric cars have the potential to cause added injuries to persons that do not normally occur in collisions with internal combustion cars. The further dangers posed by electric car accidents can lead to extensive harm to victims and in some cases, even wrongful death lawsuits if the injury is fatal. Thus, you may want to hire a local car accident lawyer if you need help with filing a claim for injuries sustained in an electric car accident.
An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to guide you through the legal process, including preparing your case, making sure that your rights and interests are protected, and informing you about the laws that could affect the outcome of the lawsuit. Your lawyer can also ensure that you meet all filing deadlines and are in compliance with the relevant injury laws in your state.
In addition, your lawyer will be able to provide representation in court and can assist you in recovering damages for injuries resulting from the accident. As discussed in the above section, you may be entitled to collect economic, non-economic, and/or punitive damages. Again, your lawyer can discuss all of these remedies and will do their best to ensure you receive a fair amount based on the facts of your particular case.