Car Accident Lawyer
If you’ve recently been injured in a car accident, you may – very understandably – wondering whether you have any opportunities for legal and financial recourse. There is no “one size fits all” answer that applies to every accident injury victim, partially because each state imposes its own standards concerning when accident victims are and are not empowered to sue for damages in civil court.
You’ll want to avoid making any assumptions about the potential strengths or weaknesses of your legal position until you’ve spoken with an attorney. It is rare that an injury victim’s case is so “cut-and-dry” that their legal options are immediately discernible in the aftermath of a wreck. Most of the time, an attorney must conduct a thorough and objective investigation of the circumstances at hand before informing an injury victim of their rights and options under the law.
Causation and Fault
As an experienced car accident lawyer – including those who practice at Schehr Law, PLLC – can confirm, it is often very difficult to determine exactly what caused an accident in its immediate aftermath. Even if you believe that you know what happened, you likely can’t be sure until your accident has been thoroughly investigated. For example, you may think that because you glanced back at your toddler right before your car was hit from behind, you must be partially at fault for what happened to you. Upon investigation, it is discovered that you were hit by a driver who had been awake for 45 hours and whose brakes were faulty. Don’t dismiss the idea that you may have a strong case to make until you’ve spoken with an attorney about your situation.
Comparative vs. Contributory Negligence
There are three primary approaches employed by various states concerning a victim’s partial fault for their injurious circumstances.
A small minority of states are “pure contributory negligence” states. This model does not allow anyone who has contributed – in any way – to their own injurious circumstances to sue others who are also partially responsible for their harm.
A minority of states employ a “pure comparative negligence” model. This approach allows injury victims to sue others who are partially to blame, no matter what proportion of the fault for an accident is assigned to the victim.
A majority of states employ a hybrid method that allows injury victims to sue others who are partially responsible for their harm, provided that those victims aren’t more than 50% at fault.
A Word About Work-Related Accidents
Even if you have suffered a crash in a pure contributory negligence state and you’re sure that you’re at least somewhat responsible for your injurious circumstances, it’s important to connect with an attorney if your crash was work-related. Unless you’re properly classified as an independent contractor, chances are that your employer has invested in workers’ compensation coverage on your behalf (as mandated by most states’ laws). Because workers’ comp isn’t a fault-based system, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if you were 100% to blame for your crash. Applying for these benefits is a particularly time-sensitive process, so make sure to act quickly.