If you have ever driven a car, chances are you have been involved in an automobile accident at some point. While accidents will always be uncontrollable no matter how careful one is, injured individuals should know how to protect their car accident rights after an incident occurs.
Why Would I Need to Know About My Legal Rights?
When you are in an accident, you have every right to know what you are entitled to. This is because you could be dealing with severe injuries and medical bills at the same time. When it comes to determining your compensation payment, ignorance is not bliss, and filing claims without understanding your legal rights can be risky.
Your claim process can drag on if you do not know what kind of documents and information are necessary. This lack of knowledge can also incur you more charges.
As an injured individual in a car accident, here are some things you should know about, with regards to your legal rights:
Rights Against the At-fault Party
Most individuals know that a lawsuit could be filed if he or she has suffered injuries in an accident. However, it is important to note that there are different components to these lawsuits which need to be understood. For example, passenger injuries fall under personal injury lawsuits. In these cases, a civil case is filed against another individual or company. If someone is to blame for the accident, the injured party has every right to sue them. As well, the passengers should always include both parties’ names in the lawsuit, even if only one was responsible for causing the accident.
Right Against Other Drivers
What if someone opens their car door without realizing that you are nearby and slams it into you or your vehicle? In instances such as these, you have the legal right to sue the at-fault individual. Because he or she is responsible for his or her vehicle, they are responsible for the damages and injuries that have been caused.
Right to Information About Insurance
All drivers are liable by law to pay insurance. This ensures that compensation can be paid out to those who have been injured in an accident which has been caused by these drivers. This being said, it is not as straightforward as it seems. Some insurance companies take advantage of victims by blaming them for contributing to the accident and rejecting their pursuit for any financial settlement which they rightfully deserve as a result of the pain and suffering that they had to endure.
The victim has the right to receive written information about the policy limitations and claims history of any other parties involved from their insurance company. This way, he or she can defend his or her rights against any attempts which have been taken to deny him or her justice. It is essential that individuals understand their car accident rights. This way, they can make best judgments and receive fair compensation.
Right to Personal Injury Protection Benefits
Assume your wounds are severe enough that you need to see a doctor or go to the hospital right away. In such cases, you may be entitled to receive compensation for lost wages owing to your inability to work and medical expenditures.
Rights as a Commuter in a Taxi
The rider in a taxi accident typically does not have as much control over the situation as individuals in other types of car accidents. You, as the passenger, have no control over where the vehicle goes or how the driver navigates a specific route. However, If you become involved in an accident as a taxi passenger, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against the taxi company for damages related to your injuries.
Understanding Your Rights
You should be aware that you have the legal right to submit a claim against the driver (the person responsible for transporting you), based on the three elements of negligence: breach, causation, and damages.
If the driver breached their duty to ensure your safety during travel, then you might be eligible for compensation related to any pain or suffering that you experience. An example of a breach of duty would be failure to inform you of any possible dangers ahead prior to the commencement of the journey.
Causation pertains to proof that you would not have suffered your injuries if not for said breach in the contract mentioned earlier by the driver.
A complication arose when proof for breach of contract by the driver led to damages in the form of medical bills, loss of work time/inability to perform duties during the recovery period, and other expenses related to healing from the injuries from the accident.
Coverage of Lawsuits
The regulations governing liability in vehicles are typically straightforward. For instance, perhaps you were not wearing your seat belt at the time of the accident- this is considered an instance of comparative fault and can have no bearing on the amount of compensation you could receive because the damages were due to the negligence of others. This being said, there are several exceptions to this law which shield vehicle operators from being sued in situations when riders were largely or entirely to blame for their disasters.
Let’s take a closer look at what these exceptions include:
Assumption of Risk
The Assumption of Risk clause can come into play when the rider knows that there’s a natural risk associated with the activity in question, but proceeds regardless. In such cases, he or she would not be able to file a claim against the vehicle operators who are at fault.
With the contributory negligence clause in play, the settlement that the victim of the accident is entitled to is dependent on the whether or not their actions contributed to the accident. While it typically only applies in disputed cases, this rule would be enacted if the wounded party was partly responsible for causing his or her own injuries because he or she failed to wear a seat belt or follow other safety regulations.
Seat Belt Defense
For this defense to be applied, the rider would have had to be wearing a seat belt at the commencement of the journey, but removed it at some point during the trip. If – for whatever reason – you were involved in an accident while not wearing a seatbelt, then you cannot claim any injuries against the defendant(s).
Pursuing Claims Against Uninsured Drivers
When drivers involved in accidents do not carry adequate liability insurance coverage, victims may think their case is hopeless. However, the law still provides for compensation even when liability coverage is available. Therefore, this means that victims of motor accidents should still file claims with their insurance providers and sue the uninsured driver, such that they are compensated for lost wages and costly medical treatments.
How Filing a Lawsuit After an Accident Occurs?
Suppose your injuries prevent you from immediately speaking with a personal injury lawyer or filing a lawsuit. In such instances, you should not wait too long because these cases are governed by the statute of limitations.
As well, the more promptly you file a claim against the at-fault party, the better your chances are in receiving the compensation that you deserve. An experienced passenger accident lawyer can guide you through the entire legal process, and work with you to ensure that you are remunerated properly.
Handling of Claims
Most injury lawyers will initially offer their services without charge to evaluate your case and to determine if you have a solid legal claim. However, victims who want to handle these types of claims on their own can still do so by filing a complaint with the court since they are not required to have legal representation. Regardless of whether you enlist the assistance of a lawyer or not, you should have access to all available evidence, such as police reports and medical records, along with witness statements made at the time of the accident. Victims should not hesitate to take action against those who have caused them harm.
Filing Claims for Property Damage
An individual can also file a claim against negligent drivers who cause accidents that result in property damages. For example, suppose another driver damages your parked car and fails to leave a note with contact information. In such an instance, you can still file a claim for reimbursement without the assistance of a legal representative.
The Insurer’s Responsibility
Some of these rules vary from province to province, though certain factors remain more or less consistent across jurisdictions:
- Insurance companies will not approve a claim if the person at fault acted with deliberate intent or displayed gross negligence. Intoxicated drivers are liable for all damages and injuries that they cause.
- The insurer of the party found to be culpable (at-fault) for causing an accident would only be liable to reimburse victims for the injuries which were caused by the at-fault party. If you got into a car accident after failing to wear your seat belt, your insurance provider would not pay up, even if they represent the defendant in such cases.
- The insurance company of the driver who was at fault should cover any medical bills the victim incurred as a result of the accident. It is essential for a motor vehicle accident victim to see the medical assistance and treatment that he or she needs. This way, he or she can return to his or her regular activities and level of functioning as soon as possible.
When Do Lawyers Get Involved?
If you are undecided as to whether or not you should file a claim, it might help to understand your eligibility for compensation, as well as what could you be compensated for.
- When there is clear evidence of negligence and other parties can be held liable.
Suppose someone else caused your injuries, then it is very likely that his or her insurance company will cover your expenses (medical and otherwise). Although such cases seem straightforward, it is extremely beneficial to hire a car accident lawyer to help you with your claims. These experts can ensure that you receive the compensation that you deserve.
- When it is not clear as to whether or not someone else is to be blamed for your injuries.
This situation arises when the individuals involved blame one another, or when there’s not enough evidence to assign responsibility. Under these circumstances, it is imperative that you hire an experienced car accident lawyer who has experience handling these types of cases. This way, he or she can work with you to ensure that you are compensated properly.
- When two parties are equally responsible for causing injuries.
In these instances, it may be difficult to tell which party was more negligent. Thus, there is no choice but to seek out legal counsel since it is ambiguous as to which party would be financially accountable for the harm.
When it comes to passenger claims, it’s best to seek out legal assistance if you’re unsure about whether or not you could file a personal injury lawsuit against an insurance provider or another party. Don’t let insurance companies intimidate you into representing yourself instead of hiring an injury lawyer – they’re only trying to protect their own interests. Always fight for your rights!