Motor Vehicle Accidents
When You Have Been Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident
Helpful Information from Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie and Seelaus, LLP
The single leading cause of personal injury in the United States is motor vehicle accidents. Occasionally, a driver will intentionally cause injury to another person. In most instances, however, the accident results from simple carelessness or negligence. To recover compensation for your losses when you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, you must show that:
- The driver failed to act as a reasonable person would in the same circumstances
- The actions of the driver actually caused your injury, and that your injury was reasonably foreseeable as a result of the driver’s negligence
- You suffered actual injuries as a result
Establishing Fault in a Motor Vehicle Accident
The first and most important factor in a motor vehicle accident is the determination of fault. This can be difficult and confusing. In many situations, there are a variety of factors that contributed to the accident. For example:
- The driver of the other vehicle may have been distracted, either talking to a passenger, adjusting the radio, talking on the phone or looking somewhere other than on the road.
- The road conditions may have contributed to the accident. This may result for weather conditions, from poor road construction or maintenance, from the malfunction of traffic signals, or from poor design of an intersection or road.
- One of the drivers may have had diminished capacity, whether as a result of intoxication, illness or other factor.
- One of the vehicles may have been defective, with brakes, steering mechanism or other parts that were not working properly
To recover damages after a motor vehicle accident, you must show that another person either intentionally caused your injuries, or that they did not use the appropriate standard of care. Though the commonly accepted standard is that of “an average person of ordinary prudence,” that standard can still be difficult to ascertain. In our system of justice, the jury determines whether a defendant acted reasonably.
Establishing Cause in a Motor Vehicle Accident
Once you have demonstrated that a person failed to act as a reasonable person would, you must tie their negligence to your injury. First, you must show that “but for” their wrongful conduct, you would not have been hurt.In essence, this requires that you show that there were no independent acts or factors that would have caused your injury anyway.
Even if you can show that the defendant’s action was the “but for” cause, you must still show that your injuries were reasonably foreseeable.
What to Do After an Auto Accident
After a motor vehicle accident, your first priority should be medical treatment. If you are able to gather information from others involved in the accident, as well as witnesses, do so. You should also take pictures of the scene, preferably before vehicles are moved. If you cannot move under your own power, ask others, including police officers, to get personal contact information from all parties and witnesses.