Car Accident Negligence
Most vehicle crashes occur due to human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those who are injured in car accidents may be entitled to compensation to help cover the costs associated with their injuries. To recover compensation, plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits must prove that the other driver’s negligence caused their injuries.
What is Negligence?
Negligence is a legal theory used to establish a defendant’s liability for underlying accidents. In order to obtain compensation from a responsible party, plaintiffs must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused or contributed to their injuries. To establish negligence in a car accident claim, four elements must be met. These elements include:
- Duty: To hold a defendant responsible, it must first be established that they owed the plaintiff a duty of care. All drivers are required by law to exercise a reasonable duty of care, which they are expected to uphold by driving safely, obeying traffic laws, and maintaining their vehicles in safe working order.
- Breach: Next, it must be shown that the defendant breached this duty to the plaintiff. In car accident cases, this is typically established by showing that the defendant did not obey traffic laws, was distracted, or engaged in any behavior that constituted a breach of duty to drive safely.
- Causation: Plaintiffs must then prove that the defendant’s breach of duty caused their injuries. If a defendant’s actions were negligent, but did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff will not be entitled to damages.
- Damages: To recover compensation, the defendant’s breach of duty must have caused quantifiable harm to the plaintiff. If the plaintiff did not suffer a legally recognized harm, they may not be able to hold the defendant legally responsible.
Types of Damages Available in Car Accident Cases
Plaintiffs in car accident cases may typically recover economic and non-economic damages to compensate for their losses. Economic damages are those designed to compensate the plaintiff for quantifiable losses, such as out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are those designed to compensate for losses that are not measurable or readily quantifiable, such as disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Full Tort versus Limited Tort Liability Insurance
Pennsylvania drivers have the option to choose either full tort insurance or limited tort insurance. Full tort insurance allows drivers to sue the responsible party and recover compensation for potentially life-long effects of a car accident, such as pain and suffering. With limited tort insurance, an injured party may not sue the driver who caused their injuries but rather seek compensation from their own car insurance, which only covers economic damages.
However, there is an exception for serious injuries. Drivers with limited tort insurance may be able to sue the responsible driver if they can prove that their injuries meet the legal definition of serious; examples include traumatic brain injuries, disfiguring scars and burns, and amputations.
Cases in which two or more parties share fault for a car accident are handled differently by state. Pennsylvania follows the comparative negligence theory, which splits the responsibility for damages between the at-fault parties. Therefore, even if a plaintiff contributed to the accident, they will not be barred from recovery; rather, their damage award will be reduced in proportion to their percentage of negligence.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann & Wall, LLC Advocate for Those Injured by Negligent Drivers
If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer at McCann & Wall, LLC. We will fight for the compensation you deserve. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we represent clients from the surrounding areas. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-8488.