Being in a car accident is always overwhelming and stressful for the people involved, no matter how insignificant or minor it may seem to others. This is particularly true if it’s your first time to be in this situation, or if it has led to severe consequences for you and the other party.
Nonetheless, you should keep calm and be mindful of the steps you need to take to protect yourself and others who are involved in the aftermath of the event. Personal injury lawyer Brian Guralnick recommends checking your vitals and contacting an attorney after a car accident so that you can get ample support in this trying time.
It’s also crucial to stay informed about car accident laws so that you know what to do when you get involved in one. Here are the rules you should know about:
1. Your Right to Legal Counsel
Getting in touch with your lawyer isn’t just a suggestion that you can take for granted. It’s your right as a human being to gain appropriate legal assistance and support after being in a car accident.
Find a lawyer who specializes in personal injury to guide you through the process. These professionals can spot the physical evidence that can give the authorities an idea of precisely what happened.
One essential thing to keep in mind is the time constraint that entails gathering fresh evidence. To make a solid case on your innocence, you need to document the scene of the accident as soon as possible.
Of course, as mentioned above, you should check for injuries on yourself, your passengers, and other concerned parties. If the physical damages aren’t too serious, you can then contact your lawyer so that they can arrive at the scene quickly. They’ll give you the guidance and support you need to preserve the details of the accident.
One of the first things you should do after a car accident is to notify the police since they can give an objective assessment of the situation. Often, the driver who’s at fault will attempt to manipulate you into thinking that you don’t need to contact the authorities since you can settle the issue yourselves. However, the lack of a police report can make it difficult for you to get compensation from the insurance company, so it’s best to call a traffic enforcer to document the event.
2. Injury Lawsuit Filing Deadline
If you want to file an injury lawsuit, you should be aware of the deadline for the eligibility of your claim. In Florida, for instance, the plaintiff can file for this type of case four years from the date of the accident. It provides you with ample time to recover from your injuries and prepare the necessary documents for the case.
The court also gives an extension if you filed after the time limit because it might have taken you more than four years to discover that you actually suffered harm from the incident, provided you can prove the relation of your current injuries to the accident. Another exception that could affect the lawsuit deadline is if you’re filing against the government, which typically entails a shorter period.
3. Comparative Negligence Rule
Comparative negligence means that you, as a plaintiff, would get lower compensation for the damages you incurred if it’s proven that you are partially responsible for the accident. It pertains to the fact that you failed to demonstrate a reasonable amount of care to ensure your and other people’s safety on the road.
For instance, Jane may have taken a left turn and hit John, who was driving past the speed limit. He then ends up with injuries and sues her for negligence. Let’s say his losses total to 150,000 USD.
With comparative negligence, the plaintiff wouldn’t get 100 percent of the total but only a portion because he is considered to have been negligent as well when he drove over the limit. Nonetheless, his compensation would still be more substantial than Jane’s since the latter failed to turn left safely, so the greater weight of responsibility falls on her.
4. No-Fault Car Insurance Law
There’s also the no-fault car insurance law, where your insurance provider must provide you with financial support for medical bills, lost income, and other out-of-pocket losses regardless of whether you were responsible for the accident or not. Passengers can turn to the no-fault coverage of the driver whom they were with.
This is useful if it was just a minor accident. Take note that you can only hold the other driver liable to damages if the accident led to serious injuries, such as permanent disability through scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
5. Injury Case Damage Caps
You should also know about damage caps, which provide a threshold on the amount of money that an injured person can claim in particular cases or losses. Typically, this law puts a limit on the compensation that the plaintiff can receive for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering.
For car accidents in West Palm Beach or any other city in Florida, you must be aware of the law on punitive damages. This type of compensation is imposed on the defendant to punish them for behaviors that are dangerous or reprehensible.
The state puts a cap on punitive damages, where it should only be three times the compensatory damages amount or 500,000 USD, whichever is higher.
The aftermath of a car accident can be a confusing and overwhelming time. However, you should always get your bearings and be aware of the laws in your state concerning this type of incident.
First, you must know that getting legal counsel is your right. You should get in touch with your lawyer after checking for injuries on your person or your passengers. Your attorney can help you with documenting the scene of the accident and preserving the evidence to make a solid case for your innocence.
Next, be aware of the injury lawsuit filing deadlines for your state so that you can receive appropriate compensation for the damages you incurred. You should also be knowledgeable about the no-fault car insurance law in some localities, which requires insurance companies to provide financial support for certain losses. Lastly, study the damage caps in your jurisdiction for car accidents.