Every day in the United States, people are injured and killed in car accidents that are not their fault. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that there were 32,675 people killed and 2.3 million people injured in car accidents in 2014. Many of these accidents involved negligent drivers that were impaired by drugs, alcohol or drowsiness. If a victim can prove that a driver’s negligence caused their injuries, they could be entitled to receive a car accident settlement.
Who Can File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
An injured car accident victim can file a lawsuit against the driver who was at fault for their accident. If a car accident victim is killed, the victim’s family members can generally file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. Family members may also file a lawsuit on behalf of a minor.
Proving Fault in a Car Accident Lawsuit
After a car accident, the driver at fault is sometimes charged with drunk or reckless driving or other criminal offenses. A civil car accident lawsuit is separate and different from the criminal case. While criminal charges require that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a civil lawsuit only requires a “preponderance of evidence” to prove that the defendant was at fault. In other words, a negligent driver could have criminal charges dropped and still be found liable in a civil trial.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Following a car accident, an injured victim should call emergency medical services and the police. If possible, a car accident victim should try to write down the phone numbers and insurance information of all the other people who were involved in the crash. It may also be helpful to get phone numbers from any eyewitnesses who saw the accident.
Evidence Used in a Car Accident Lawsuit
An attorney can help a victim prove that a driver was at fault for their injuries with several different pieces of evidence. Evidence might include:
- The police report from the accident scene
- Any records of criminal charges filed against the driver
- Results from breath, blood and urine tests
- Footage from security cameras
- Testimony from eyewitnesses
- Photographic evidence
If a car accident involves a commercial driver, the company that hired the driver may hold liability for the accident. To prove that a commercial driving company was liable for a victim’s injuries, a lawyer may show evidence that the driver was hired and retained by the company despite a poor driving record.
Car Accident Awards
The amount that a victim is awarded in a car accident claim varies greatly by the type of accident they were involved in. A car accident lawyer can help a victim to assess the value of their damages. Car accident victims typically claim financial compensation for medical expenses, property damage and lost income. Some car accident victims are also awarded compensation for their emotional distress.
If a car accident resulted in very serious injuries, a victim might claim compensation for their future medical expenses and lost income. For example, a person who was left with permanent disabilities from a car accident would likely claim compensation for their future medical care and lost earning capacity.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the family of a deceased car accident victim usually claims compensation for damages that include end-of-life medical care. The family may also seek reimbursement for funeral expenses, attorney fees and loss of financial support.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Following a car accident, an injured victim should call emergency medical services and the police. If possible, a car accident victim should try to write down the phone numbers and insurance information of all the other people who were involved in the crash. It may also be helpful to get phone numbers from any eyewitnesses who saw the accident. A car accident attorney can help an injured victim to complete all the steps necessary to prepare a claim.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Auto Accident Articles
- Car Accident Basics
- Car Accidents: Legal FAQ
- Car Accidents: Contributory & Comparative Negligence
- Types of Car Accident Damages
- Proving Fault in a Car Accident
- Types of Car Accident Injuries
- Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts