Car accidents can be terrifying experiences. Often, at least some of the people involved are injured, sometimes severely, and the automobiles that crashed are damaged. The legal system can help the parties sort out who is at fault for the accident, and which party needs to pay the doctors' and mechanics' bills.
How a Car Accident Case Works
Car accident law is a combination of traffic and personal injury law. Someone who is injured in an auto accident can hire an attorney who will negotiate with the other drivers to determine who should pay for the damage, and if necessary, the attorney will file a lawsuit. The courts will piece together exactly what happened using police reports, photos, and other evidence, and then use the local traffic laws as well as legal concepts such as to determine who caused the accident. Whoever is at fault usually has to compensate the other party for medical and property expenses, as well as for harm such as lost wages and pain and suffering.
However, this is not always a simple calculation, since sometimes both drivers are at fault. Each state has slightly different rules for situations in which there is more than one person responsible for the crash. Some states require that one party pays all the bills, whereas others allow the two parties to split the bills according to the amount each party is to blame.
The Role of Auto Insurance
Fortunately, most people do not pay all of the damages stemming from a collision out of pocket. Automobile insurance may pay to repair at least some of the damages or replacement cost for all or some of the vehicles involved, and may pay for some medical expenses as well. Insurance companies may also pay for an attorney, if necessary, although clients do not usually get to choose their own attorney. State laws vary widely on the extent and types of insurance required to drive a vehicle.
Determining Who Is At Fault
The laws on who is at fault vary depending on the types of vehicles involved. Most states give more protections to pedestrians and bicyclists, since they are more vulnerable to injuries from a collision. Similarly, motorcyclists may have greater injuries, but motorcyclists also must follow different traffic rules since they can be faster and more nimble than an automobile. Truck drivers are usually professionally trained and certified, and have to drive more carefully than most other drivers. Determining who pays for the damage after a collision with a truck is slightly more complicated than other kinds of accidents because trucks are often commercially owned, so the liability may rest not only on the driver, but on the owner of the truck as well.
Look through the articles in this section to find more information on the different types of collisions, how auto insurance works, and on what to do after a car accident to ensure that any legal case that follows goes as smoothly as possible.