Driving in the winter is often considered to be the most hazardous time to be on the road. It makes sense with the potential for ice or even the occasional snow flurry. Individuals might initially think that driving during the summer does not pose any inherent risks. In fact, there are plenty of perilous situations that can make driving in the summer even more dangerous than the winter. When the weather is nicer people are more apt to leave their homes, thus putting more cars on the road during summertime. There is also a sizeable increase in the number of parties such as graduation parties, pool parties, and holiday weekends like the Fourth of July. With the significant increases in parties, there becomes a considerable increase in the number of impaired drivers on the roads. When a person is involved in a car accident, it is imperative that the injured individual knows the proper legal steps to take in order to recover full compensation for their injuries.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration car accidents are among the most common types of incidents that cause injuries. When these accidents occur, a driver should collect all possible information. Drivers involved should get the name and contact information of the other driver, the driver’s insurance company, any witnesses to the accident, and any law enforcement officers present at the scene. It is also crucial that photographs are taken of the scene, including the location of vehicles, the license plates of each car, and any physical damage done to the cars. Drivers who are looking to pursue and settle a claim will be required to give a substantial amount of information to the other driver's insurance company.
When giving information to the other driver’s insurance company, it is crucial to mindful that the insurance company wants to pay out as little money as possible. The insurance company will try to do this by asserting that the accident was entirely or partially the fault of the driver they are not representing. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, so any shared fault can significantly reduce the amount of a claim. The insurance company will also try to prove that insufficient documentation to support a claim was provided. The better documentation and truthful testimony an individual can give to an insurance company, the greater their chances are of receiving fair compensation. However, it is imperative to keep in mind that insurance companies are not required to reach a settlement with a driver. If an individual who is involved in a car accident wants to recover additional damages not offered by an insurance company, they should file a lawsuit.
When someone involved in a car accident files a claim to solely recover property damage they may seek compensation for vehicle damage, personal property damage such as a phone or computer that may have been damaged in the crash, rental car expenses, and out of pocket charges such as an Uber from the scene of the accident. Documentation of all of the costs related to these damages will need to be provided to the insurance company in order to recover any money spent.
There are circumstances when more than just property damage results from a car accident. In addition to the damages listed in the above paragraph, an injured individual might be entitled to recover medical expenses and lost wages that resulted directly from an accident. When seeking compensation for injuries sustained, the injured individual will have to prove liability of the at-fault driver. When determining legal liability in most car accidents, a plaintiff must show that the other driver was acting negligently. The plaintiff will be required to prove that the defendant had a duty of care, the defendant breached that duty, and the breach of that duty was the actual or proximate causation for the injuries.
Claims of negligence are best proved by documentation and credible testimony. Police reports are an excellent source of documentation from the scene of an accident. The officer may indicate that the defendant violated a traffic law by speeding or perhaps driving while impaired. Regardless of how the police report indicates what happened any record of a traffic violation by the defendant acts as tremendous support in proving the defendant was negligent.
In addition to using police reports, a plaintiff can prove that a driver did not act with a proper duty of care. The law requires that all drivers use reasonable care to avoid harming anyone they may encounter on the road. Reasonable care includes driving at a reasonable speed. Drivers who do not adhere to speed limits or take weather into account can be found negligent. Drivers also have a duty to keep a proper lookout for other vehicles, pedestrians, and other road hazards. Accidents that result from a failure to properly lookout can result in a driver being found liable. Finally, a driver must maintain control of their car and the car’s equipment. Drivers must keep their vehicles in safe working order. If a driver does not uphold their duty of care in any of these areas and their negligence directly leads to injuries, they may be forced to compensate for the losses.
There are defenses that a driver can assert in the event of an accident. The driver may claim that this accident was an instance of contributory negligence. If for example a driver was texting and another speeding driver ran a red light causing an accident, both drivers would share part of the blame making it difficult to recover full damages for any injuries that resulted from the accident. For a plaintiff to have the highest chance of recovering full damages, they must share no part of the blame for the accident.
The summer can be a dangerous time on the road with an increased number of cars, tourists, and impaired drivers. If the occasion arises where an accident happens, it is essential to document everything that transpires properly. It is also necessary to have knowledge of the burden of proof and how a victim’s negligence may have played a role in the injuries. An acquisition of this knowledge will best allow full compensation.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident please call one of our personal injury lawyers. We will discuss your case and options. There is no fee for an initial consultation.