Accidents are part of our daily lives, thus it is important to know what the most common accidents are, what are the necessary precautions that must be taken to prevent them, and if they finally do occur, it is important to know what type of legal action can be taken by the victims to protect themselves. Some of the major accidents that lead to severe injuries or fatalities include car accidents, workplace accidents, or simply injuries that are due to someone else’s negligence.
Car accidents are very common, especially in countries like the United States that have prioritized motor vehicles as the main means of transportation for people. In 2018, there were 36,550 deaths as a result of motor vehicle accidents. The United States has the 4th highest number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 people behind India, China, and Brazil. Therefore, it is very important that people know their rights when it comes to car accidents. Accident law refers to legal rules which determine who is responsible for damages suffered to both property and people from a vehicle accident. This law consists of negligence that can be applied to personal injury and is usually governed by state law. While the law in each state differs slightly, the basic principles which a victim must be able to prove in order to recover compensation include duty, breach, causation, and harm.
When it comes to duty, we know that drivers have an obligation to follow all rules of the road and to operate a vehicle in a reasonable manner. It is a driver’s duty to follow the speed limit, be aware, obey traffic signals, and have a properly functioning vehicle while maintaining proper control of it. According to attorney Matt Stoddard, duty is usually easily accepted because when a driver obtains their license and vehicle they have already demonstrated duty. The victim must prove that the duty was breached which the court does not assume caused the victim’s injuries. Evidence such as, eyewitness, dash camera, traffic camera, fault admission, and expert witness testimony can be used to prove a breach of duty. However, the court will never assume that a breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries.
Therefore, causation must be proved by the victim through matching the medical injuries with the nature of the crash and proving that they did not exist before the accident. Finally, harm must be proven by the victim, meaning that as a result of the breach of duty the victim suffered damages, both physical and financial. Only when all these factors are shown may the victim be entitled to monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and grief.
What to do following a car accident
Following a car accident, it is advisable to remain silent and not accept blame for anything. It is important to take notes of what is said by the other driver. You can use a smartphone or a voice recorder to record voice notes during the accident scene. Try to gather a lot of details about the accident. You might also want to record the other driver’s name, address, license number and insurance information. It is also advisable to take down witness information, description of how you think the accident occurred, what the witness saw, road and weather conditions. It is also a good idea to take photos of the scene and the damages to both vehicles and where they occurred.
Take videos or photos of traffic lights, sidewalks, and locations around the accident. If police are called, write down their names and take their business card so that you can obtain an accident report later on. Most importantly, one must seek immediate medical attention and not neglect their injuries.
Laws for personal injury from other types of accidents
Other common types of personal injury cases where a negligence claim for a person or entity acting in an unreasonable manner which resulted to harm suffered includes the following:
Premises Liability: Premises liability means that a landowner or property owner owes a duty of care to other people using that land or property. An example of this might be customers of a store who slip and fall or guests injured in someone’s home due to their negligence. Different states have different laws which are usually based on the relationship between the parties. Invitees are owed the highest standard of care, which consist of warning signs of any danger, inspecting property and repairing it accordingly.
Similarly, a licensee is a person who has permission to be on the premises and are afforded the same duty of care from the owner as an invitee. On the other hand, a trespasser is owed no duty of care from the owner. However, an owner cannot purposely injure a trespasser, meaning that they cannot place traps or hazards to stop them. Also, minors are usually owed a higher standard of care from the owner.
Medical Malpractice: This is a special negligence claim that is specifically for healthcare industry workers, such as doctors or nurses. It requires that a victim show a medical practitioner did not apply the proper medical standards which inturn ended up causing harm.
Workplace Accidents: Usually accidents that occur in the workplace are covered by workers’ compensation laws and insurance. However, these rules do not apply if the employee is injured due to an intentional act, is an independent contractor, or injured by someone that is not the employer.
Product Liability: A defective product may bring harm to a person or a property. Depending on the type of case a defective product may be argued from a strict liability perspective. Strict liability means that certain parties be held up to a higher standard. In strict liability cases, the accuser does not have to show negligence. Product liability cases can also be argued from a negligence standpoint, for example, it could be when an engineer improperly designs a product and as a result of that fault it causes injury to a person.
Therefore, to determine how to proceed with an accident injury case there must be at least one person who can be held responsible for damages suffered. This includes employers, manufacturers, businesses, government, and owners. It is important that victims begin documenting from the time of the accident and contact an accident lawyer to help them prove duty, breach, causation, and harm.
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