Hybrid cars are automobiles that use a combination of liquid gas and electrical engine power. Hybrid car accidents can occur in the same manner as accidents involving cars powered only by internal combustion engines. However, they may present various safety concerns in a collision due to the presence of their heavy batteries and electrical cables.
Some of the safety issues in a hybrid car accident include:
- Electronic or computer malfunctions;
- Electric shock.
Electric shock is one of the more significant concerns. Hybrid vehicles have high-voltage batteries in them. In an accident; this is a concern, especially if any people are trapped in the vehicle. Rescue personnel can also be in danger of electric shock in such situations. These concerns can also apply to fully electric vehicles, and not just hybrid cars. Manufacturers have recently taken measures to ensure that the risk of shock from electric cables is neutralized.
Hybrid and electric vehicles have been found to cause more accidents involving pedestrians, because they are more quiet than cars with combustion engines. Pedestrians do not hear them coming so they are unable to avoid accidents. Hybrids are 20% more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents than cars with combustion engines.
An additional issue with hybrid and electric cars is their weight. The batteries that power the cars are heavy and make the vehicles about 10% heavier than cars with combustion engines. This works to the disadvantage of other cars in accidents with hybrids and electric vehicles. The hybrid and electric cars cause more damage on average to lighter, combustion-engine cars if they are involved in collisions. A combustion engine car will sustain heavier damage when it is in an accident with a hybrid or electric car.
Who Can be Held Liable for a Hybrid Car Accident or Injury?
In all respects, liability for an accident involving hybrid or electric cars may be determined in the same way as it is for a regular car accident. For instance, if one driver was driving negligently, they will probably be found liable for the injuries and property damage sustained by the other party.
As in all car accidents, hybrid car injury may be traced to a product defect from a faulty design or manufacturing process. This has been the case in some hybrid and electric car fires where the car engine spontaneously combusts on account of a defect. In such cases, the auto manufacturer may be held liable for injuries resulting from a product defect. However, this is true in any car accident.
As in other car accidents, it is also possible for a defect in road design or traffic signage to be the cause of an accident. This is true for accidents involving both combustion-engine cars and hybrid and electric cars. The condition of the roads and any signs that might have been involved in an accident are considered as possible contributing factors. If a defect in road design or signage is the cause of an accident, then the public agency responsible for them might be liable.
Are There Any Legal Remedies Available for a Hybrid Car Accident?
Legal remedies are the same for accidents involving hybrid cars as for accidents involving combustion engine cars. Typically, there is an award of compensatory damages for the party who is not at fault in causing the accident.
Compensatory damages cover the costs of medical treatment for injuries and the repair of property damage. Compensatory damages also cover related losses such as lost wages, if the person misses work due to injuries from the accident. The exact amount of compensatory damages depends on various factors, such as how serious the injuries are and whether there were any prior injuries.
An injured driver or passenger can also seek compensation for their pain and suffering. Pain and suffering are intangible elements of damages. They are the psychological aspect of physical injury. It is difficult to say how much compensation should be paid for pain and suffering. Evidence of physical discomfort endured as a result of physical injury or loss of quality of life or mental anguish would justify an award for pain and suffering.
Some examples of specific injuries that would justify an award of money for pain and suffering are:
- Permanent disability;
- Loss of a limb,
- Sexual or reproductive harm
- Other types of significant physical injury.
Eight states impose some kind of limit on the amount of pain and suffering awards. It is important to keep in mind that an award for pain and suffering is only for the psychological or emotional effects of physical injury. All of the economic consequences, such as lost income and the cost of medical care, are covered by compensatory damages.
Compensatory damages should also cover losses that will be experienced in the future. For example, in the worst cases, a person might not be able to work at the same kind of job they had before the accident. They can then collect for any financial loss this causes.
An injured driver might require long-term care in a rehabilitation facility. The negligent driver can expect to pay for the cost of this long-term care. An expert may have to be consulted to provide a reliable estimate of the cost of future care.
A third kind of award in a car accident lawsuit is for punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to punish the party at fault for the accident in cases in which the responsible party’s actions were especially negligent. For example, they might have been speeding far over the speed limit or driving while intoxicated. The amount will vary from case to case because it will depend on the circumstances of each situation.
Some states have adopted no-fault liability schemes for car accidents. This means that any driver involved in an accident should turn to their own insurance coverage for compensation for injury and damage from an accident. In these states, a driver would want to have auto insurance that includes personal injury protection (PIP); it covers medical expenses regardless of whose negligence caused the accident.
PIP coverage can include lost wages, too. Some states require drivers to have PIP coverage and others do not, but it can be useful to have it in a no-fault state. It can even help a person who is not injured in their car. For example, if a person is injured while walking or riding a bike, PIP coverage may be available. It can also provide coverage, i.e. payment for costs, if the other driver is at fault or if no other driver is involved in the accident. It does not cover property damage; other kinds of insurance are available for that purpose.
Keep in mind that insurance liability coverage for bodily injury would pay the costs for care of another person who is injured in any accident that a person causes.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Hybrid Car Accident Claim?
Hybrid car accidents can present additional potential for injury not found in standard car accidents. These can result in serious injuries and in some cases, wrongful death claims. You should consult an experienced car accident lawyer in your area if you need legal representation or guidance regarding a claim.
Your attorney can provide you with a thorough analysis of the accident and can help answer any questions you might have during the legal process. The law regarding car accidents of all kinds can vary from state to state, but your attorney can provide you with the information and representation you need for your case.