Motor vehicle accident laws are often a blend of state traffic regulations, personal injury laws, and in some cases, criminal statutes. In most cases, the laws of the state wherein a car collision occurred will be the ones that are applied to a matter, including those that pertain to procedural requirements in a lawsuit. Thus, since each state has its own particular standards for litigating a motor vehicle accident lawsuit, the outcomes of these cases can vary by jurisdiction.
Some other crucial guidelines that motor vehicle accident laws may provide include how to determine which party is at fault, the type of legal remedies that a prevailing plaintiff can recover (e.g., monetary damages award), and the amount of time that a victim will have to file a case.
In addition, the majority of motor vehicle accident lawsuits are based on a claim for negligence. The one exception to this general rule of thumb is if a defendant driver acted in an intentional or severely reckless manner that then caused the accident. In which case, their conduct will be viewed as criminal behavior and they can be charged with a crime.
Some types of incidents that motor vehicle accident laws may apply to include accidents that occur between two or more motor vehicles, trucking accidents, motorcycle crashes, vehicle rollaway accidents, car collisions with cyclists or pedestrians, and motor vehicle accidents that result in damage to real estate or property.
One final important note about motor vehicle accident lawsuits is that their outcomes are largely based on the facts of a specific case and the laws of a particular state. In other words, it can be very difficult to predict the results for these sorts of cases without obtaining further legal advice and guidance.
Therefore, if you are being sued for a motor vehicle accident or wish to sue another driver for injuries you suffered because of their actions, then it is strongly recommended that you consult a local personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
What Are Some Common Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries?
The injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident often involve those of a very specific variety.
For instance, whiplash is one of the most common injuries that victims of car accidents can suffer from for up to several weeks after an accident. Whiplash is the catchall term for muscle, tendon, or ligament injuries caused by a severe jerk of the neck and/or head. In fact, whiplash is found so frequently in these types of cases that even the dictionary defines it as an injury that typically occurs during a motor vehicle accident.
Some other common types of injuries that a victim may suffer from after being in a motor vehicle accident include:
- Scrapes, cuts, and/or lacerations;
- Head and neck injuries;
- Internal bleeding;
- Back pain or herniated discs;
- Sprains, fractures, and broken bones; and/or
- Psychological or emotional pain (e.g., post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), flashbacks, and survivor’s remorse or guilt.
A person who is injured in a motor vehicle accident should make sure to keep an organized record of all files related to the incident in question.
For example, if the person had to go to the hospital to be treated for internal bleeding and broken bones immediately after the accident, then they should request a copy of their hospital records and any related bills or receipts. This information can be used as evidence should the person decide to file a lawsuit against the other driver.
An individual who is injured in an accident should also consult a local personal injury lawyer for further advice about their options for legal recourse. An attorney will be able to assess the facts of a case and can determine whether the individual has a viable claim. If they do, then the attorney can get started filing a claim right away in the proper civil court, so that they do not lose their ability to bring a lawsuit due to the statute of limitations.
In addition, an attorney who has experience in handling motor vehicle accident cases will have connections to expert witnesses who are trained medical professionals. This reason as to why this may be important to a case is because injuries caused by a motor vehicle accident tend to require the testimony and opinion of an expert medical professional.
Not only can an expert medical professional provide testimony for trial, but they can also determine whether the injuries actually stemmed from the accident in question and/or whether the victim had pre-existing injuries prior to the accident. This latter analysis can assist a defendant to a motor vehicle accident lawsuit in getting the case against them dismissed.
What Are Some Legal Remedies Involved in Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuits?
The type of legal remedy that a plaintiff may receive will depend on the facts of a specific case, the laws of a particular state, and whether or not they were successful in proving their claim. Generally speaking, however, the legal remedy that is awarded most frequently to prevailing plaintiffs in such cases are economic damages.
Economic damages are essentially a form of monetary payments made by the defendant to the plaintiff. The main purpose of issuing an economic damages award is to reimburse and help the plaintiff in recovering any out-of-pocket costs that they lost due to the injuries they sustained in the accident. Some examples of what economic damages may be used for include medical bills, hospital costs, car repairs, lost wages, and/or property damage.
A plaintiff can also be awarded non-economic damages like those for mental anguish, pain and suffering, emotional distress, permanent scarring, loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, and various other kinds of losses that are difficult to measure or quantify.
In cases where a defendant driver acted in a shocking or outrageous manner, a court may also award a plaintiff punitive damages. However, there are two important details to keep in mind when encountering a punitive damages award.
The first is that punitive damages are rarely ever awarded. They are reserved for extreme cases and are meant to serve as a deterrent for the defendant to prevent them from committing similar acts or acting in the same manner again in the future.
The second is that many states have placed a limit on the amount of damages that a plaintiff can receive in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. This limit is known as a “damage cap” and can be found in state and/or local statutes.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues With a Motor Vehicle Accident?
Being a party to a motor vehicle accident lawsuit can be an emotionally, financially, and physically draining experience. On top of dealing with insurance companies and medical facilities, there are also many strict procedural requirements that must be complied with and various laws to follow or else a plaintiff can be barred from bringing their claim.
Thus, to relieve some of the stress you may be feeling and to get assistance with the legal component of an accident, you should contact a local car accident lawyer immediately for further guidance.
An experienced car accident lawyer will be able to inform you of your rights under the law, can tell you whether or not you should file a lawsuit against the other driver, and can discuss your options for legal recourse and the potential remedies you can receive based on those options. Your lawyer can also answer any questions you may have about motor vehicle accident laws in general or about your specific case.
In addition, your lawyer can provide representation in court on the matter and can help you try to obtain a fair and appropriate amount of damages to compensate for any injuries or losses you may have experienced due to a motor vehicle accident.