Thursday, February 12, 2015

Automobile Accidents, Car Wrecks, and Car Crashes: Different Names, Same Claims: What are Your Rights in an Automobile Collision?

As a Hilton Head attorney, I frequently meet with people to discuss their legal issues arising as a result of being in a motor vehicle collision.  Because of the sudden nature of these collisions and the disrupting impact that they can have on people's lives, the people that I meet in these situations typically have many questions that they would like to discuss.  Here I will list some of the most common questions that I have heard and some general information as to each.  Of course, every legal situation is unique, so if you would like specific advice as to your particular situation, I must advise you to consult with an attorney immediately or risk possibly forever losing your rights.

Who is Legally Responsible for My Damages?

This question often arises when there is a motor vehicle collision involving two or more vehicles and, due to the type of collision, it may be unclear which driver or drivers are responsible for causing the collision.  Although in many cases, such as a rear end collision while one car is stopped at an intersection, the negligent, or responsible, driver is clear, in other cases, such as side-by-side collisions or t-bone type collisions, which driver is responsible is not so obvious.  The initial determination as to which driver is at-fault is usually made by the investigating police officer who will note his determination on the insurance form and the accident report.  Insurance companies will typically give the police officer's determination as to fault significant weight in their analysis.  However, this determination is not the final decision - ultimately, the decision is made by a judge or jury after the presentment of evidence from all parties.

What Damages am I Entitled to?

Typically the victim of a motor vehicle collision has two types of claims:  a property damage claim and a personal injury claim.  The property damage claim centers around the estimated cost to repair the damaged motor vehicle, if possible, or, alternately, if the vehicle cannot be repaired or if the estimated cost to repair the vehicle is too great, the vehicle is deemed a total-loss and the claim is for the market value of the vehicle.  Additional damages to be sought in the property damage claim can include loss of use, which often takes the form of rental-vehicle reimbursement, the value of improvements to the vehicle, and loss of value or depreciation of the repaired vehicle.  The personal injury claim centers around the cost of medical treatment of injuries sustained in the collision and may additionally include compensation for permanent physical disability, lost income due to recovery or treatment, and compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.  Typically these two types of claims are resolved by negotiated agreement with the at-fault driver's insurance company, or, alternatively, by judgment at arbitration or trial.

These are just some of the common legal issues arising from motor- vehicle collisions.  For information about other issues, or for advice specific to your particular situation, I must advise you to consult with an attorney.  Please do not accept any of the information listed above for legal advice or for any other purpose other than general information.

Joe DuBois

Naert and DuBois, LLC, Attorneys at Law
22 New Orleans Rd #1
Hilton head Island, SC  29928
(843) 686-5500

Call us today to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation.  We are a bilingual law firm in English and Spanish.  #hiltonheadlawfirm #hiltonheadpersonalinjuryattorneys #automobile accidents