Available Damages Following a Motor Vehicle Collision
Defendants in car wreck cases have an obligation to provide proper compensation for all injuries and damages that result from their negligence. A liable defendant must provide full compensation regardless of their lack of intent to cause injury.
It falls to injured plaintiffs to demonstrate how a defendant’s negligence has affected their lives. The most obvious effect is the need for medical care. Physical injuries such as broken bones, separated joints, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries are all common consequences of car accidents. An at-fault defendant must provide payments to cover the costs of all necessary medical care tied to these injuries both immediately following an incident and in the future.
However, some car crashes also affect individuals in ways that extend beyond physical injuries. Most physical injuries come with significant pain and suffering. Whether this includes pain from the immediate impact or suffering endured while making a recovery, a defendant must provide compensation for this loss in quality of life. Many accidents also may leave a person with severe emotional traumas that can result in nightmares, an inability to get back into a car, or PTSD. Plaintiffs must attempt to place a dollar value on these losses to demand proper compensation in a claim.
Finally, an accident may affect a person’s ability to earn a living. If an injury is severe enough to keep a person from working while making a recovery, a defendant should provide reimbursement for lost wages. More severe accidents may result in a permanent loss of ability to earn an income. In these situations, a defendant could be liable to provide payments for lost earning capacity. A Florida car crash attorney could help injured individuals form demand packages that seek payment for all their losses.
How Does Someone Prove Negligence in Florida Car Accident Cases?
Negligence is the standard legal grounds that most car crash attorneys base their civil cases upon. Negligence applies to these cases because all people who get behind the wheel enter into a social contract, requiring them to operate their vehicles in a way that does not place others at an unreasonable risk of harm.
This legal obligation exists because a single lapse in judgment or moment of distraction can lead to devastating collisions with other motorists or pedestrians.
When someone acts with disregard for their duty to drive safely and puts others at risk, they may be considered negligent. To prove liability in a car wreck case based on negligent behavior, plaintiffs must demonstrate certain arguments. The Florida injury lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo could help a claimant establish negligence in a car accident case.
Duty of Care
All drivers assume a duty of care to drive responsibly and to follow all traffic laws while behind the wheel. This legal obligation extends to other drivers, passengers, bike riders, pedestrians, and others on the road. This duty is automatic when driving on public roads, and a motorist cannot delegate this obligation to anyone else.
Breach of Duty
In Florida, it falls to a plaintiff in the motor vehicle accident case to prove that a defendant failed in their duty of care. Defendants may breach this duty in various ways. Some examples include breaking a traffic law, driving while intoxicated, or texting while driving.
Every car accident case must make a connection between a breach of the duty of care and the plaintiff’s injuries. A surprising number of claims face challenges when an insurance company states that there is no proof of a connection between the collision and the claimed losses.
The final, critical portion of a claim is properly accounting for how the defendant’s negligence has affected the plaintiff’s life. Fully developed claims should include evidence of their losses, such as doctor or hospital bills, and proof of how the accident has affected their emotional state or ability to earn a living.
Breaching Duty of Care
There are two main ways that plaintiffs could demonstrate a violation of duty of care on the part of the defendant. The first is to show that a defendant violated a traffic law at the time of the collision. Varying traffic laws control maximum speeds, require drivers to yield, and prohibit dangerous activities, such as texting while driving.
If a plaintiff can show that a defendant was in violation of these rules at the time of the accident and that a subsequent traffic court case ended with a conviction, this could constitute direct evidence of negligence. Other motor vehicle collision cases in Florida are not so clear-cut. There may be a genuine dispute as to which party was at-fault for a crash.
For instance, this may be the case when a police report is not clear as to what happened in the incident or does not assign a ticket to either party. In this situation, a car wreck lawyer in Florida could help find witnesses, traffic camera footage, or perform an accident reconstruction study to help demonstrate defendant fault.
How Could Comparative Fault Limit Recovery in Auto Accident Cases?
Car accident cases often involve multiple parties, and sometimes even the plaintiff can be found liable for some of their injuries. A car accident lawyer could explain Florida’s comparative fault laws, and how they may impact a particular claimant’s case.
Under a comparative fault system, if there are multiple defendants found to be partially liable for an accident, each would typically pay the plaintiff their damages in accordance with their percentage of fault. If the jury determines that a plaintiff has liability for their damages, they could be assigned a percentage of fault just like a defendant.
According to Florida Statute §768.81, civil courts must use comparative negligence when evaluating the actions of all parties involving in an accident case. This means that a court may reduce a plaintiff’s award by the percentage of blame they carry for the accident. For example, if a jury decides that a plaintiff was 25 percent at-fault, that jury may award a claimant only 75 percent of their damages. This same concept may apply to settlement negotiations since insurance companies understand this law and will not pay full compensation if they believe that a plaintiff was partially to blame.
Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney Today
The days and weeks following a car accident are a vital time in a person’s life. They may require medical attention, many nights in the hospital, and extensive rehabilitation. At the same time, these people may need to make substantial adjustments in their lives.
One major component of making a full recovery can be pursing a car accident claim in civil court. These cases can demand payments from at-fault defendants for medical bills, lost earnings, and emotional traumas. However, it is only possible to collect these payments if you can prove that another driver was negligent and a failure to demonstrate this behavior may lead to a reduced award package or total dismissal of a claim.
Fortunately, the Florida car accident lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo could help you. From an initial investigation into the crash to gathering essential evidence and measuring your losses, our attorneys could help you build a powerful claim. We also could work to form demand packages that seek proper compensation for your losses from negligent motorists and their insurance companies. The opportunity to file a claim for damages may be running out. Contact our office today to get started and to schedule a free case consultation.