Car accidents happen all too frequently, and they often cause serious injuries and property damage. If you have been hurt in a crash caused by another person’s careless driving, you may be able to pursue compensation from the negligent driver for your expenses and other damages. Knowledgeable injury lawyer Russell J. Goldsmith has over 27 years of experience helping accident victims seek compensation for the costs and losses that they have sustained as the result of the careless actions of others. At the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith, our legal team provides diligent, compassionate, and personalized services when advocating for your rights.The Differences between Fault and No-Fault States
If you were involved in a motor vehicle collision that was caused by another person’s reckless or careless actions, you will need to follow different rules depending on whether your state is a fault or a no-fault state.
The majority of states, including New Hampshire and Maine, are fault states. This means that insurers make payments after an accident in proportion to each party’s degree of fault. As a result, victims must prove that someone else was at fault in order to assert the right to compensation. By contrast, no-fault states like Massachusetts use a system in which a victim does not need to prove that another driver was responsible for causing the accident. The victim’s insurer is required to pay for economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, up to the policy limits, regardless of whether the victim was at fault to some extent. Car insurance policies in no-fault states include this provision in a section known as PIP (personal injury protection). In Massachusetts, drivers are required to carry at least $8,000 in PIP benefits per accident, which can be used to pay for their own medical bills and sometimes for family members or other people in their vehicles who are hurt in a crash.
No-fault insurance is limited to the PIP benefit limits of the victim’s policy, so there is no guarantee that it will provide reimbursement for all of the medical bills and lost income. Also, it does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress, which may be sought in fault states from the driver responsible for the accident. In limited situations, Massachusetts does permit a victim to sue the responsible driver despite the no-fault rules. These exceptions apply when the victim has incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, or when the victim has suffered permanent and serious disfigurement, a fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight.Hold a Careless Driver Accountable for Your Damages
If you live in a fault state like New Hampshire or Maine, or if the Massachusetts exceptions to the no-fault rules apply to you, you can consider bringing a negligence claim to pursue both the economic and the non-economic damages that you incurred. A negligence claim requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s actions caused the accident in which the plaintiff was hurt, and the plaintiff suffered quantifiable damages as a result.
In general, every person has a duty to act with the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances. In car accident cases, a driver owes a duty of care to other drivers, pedestrians, bikers, and others on the road to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle. A defendant breaches this duty when he or she fails to drive with reasonable care and poses a foreseeable risk of harm to others. Accidents caused by failing to obey traffic laws, driving while under the influence, or texting behind the wheel are typical examples of situations in which an individual may be found to have breached his or her duty of care in this context.
The plaintiff must then establish causation. The accident must be an event that would not have happened if the defendant had not acted carelessly. In other words, causation is satisfied if meeting the appropriate standard of care would have averted the harm. The plaintiff also must show that the crash was a reasonably foreseeable result of the defendant’s breach, rather than the product of an intervening cause.
Damages in negligence claims may include several types of compensation and will vary among states. Aside from vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and any costs for future treatment, you may have suffered lost wages due to your absence from work, or you may find that your future earning capacity was adversely affected by the accident. Compensation for these types of harm may be available to you in the form of economic damages. Non-economic damages are generally more subjective. They may include pain and suffering, disfigurement, or loss of enjoyment of life, depending on the circumstances of your case and state law.
Personal injury claims are generally subject to a statute of limitations, which defines the time period within which they may be brought. If you do not take action within the appropriate time after an accident, you likely will find that your right to compensation is barred. This means that seeking legal advice in the immediate aftermath of a motor vehicle collision may be vital to protecting your interests.Seek Legal Guidance after a Car Accident
Your accident case is a serious matter, and you deserve to have a qualified legal professional handle it. Accident attorney Russell J. Goldsmith can provide you with an honest evaluation of your situation, a detail-oriented approach in pursuing a case, and aggressive representation. Call the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.