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Auto Accidents and Personal Injury Lawsuits


If you've been injured in an automobile accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against ther person who caused the accident. The suit tries to prove that the driver of the other vehicle caused the accident due to failing to pay attention or take reasonable care.

To prove that the person wasn't using reasonable care when driving, you need find out if there was:

* The legal duty to use care
* A violation of that duty, and
* A direct relationship between the accident and the injury.

This depends on what the other person should have anticipated at the time of the accident and not what actually happened.

Duty of Care

Automobile accident lawsuits are largely determined on whether the other person met his duty of care while driving their vehicle and if their actions created an unreasonable risk. Generally, if a risk can be reasonably anticipated, it must be avoided.

A particular level or standard or care must be met when operating a car. To meet this standard or duty of care, drivers must:

* Operate the vehicle at a reasonable rate of speed
* Keep the vehicle under proper control
* Look out for all situations that could result in an accident

What Caused the Injuries

For a motorist to be liable for your injuries, his conduct must have caused your injuries. His careless conduct must have in fact contributed to your injuries. If you would have been injured even if the motorist had not acted as he did, the motorist is not liable.

Also, a reasonable person must be able to foresee and anticipate a risk of harm to others. For example, you're crossing the street in the crosswalk and are hit. The person driving should have taken reasonable care that you were walking across the street when they hit you.
Intervening Causes

A defendant may not be liable to the plaintiff if some force intervenes with the defendant's original negligence and actually causes the accident or injury. For example: A motorist was negligent and caused a collision with another vehicle and a police officer responds to the accident. If the officer is then injured in another collision at the accident scene by a third motorist, the negligence of the third motorist is an intervening cause with respect to the police officer's injuries, and the first motorist would not be liable. The action of the third motorist could not have reasonably been anticipated by the first motorist at the time of the first's motorist's negligence, and the third motorist's actions were the actual cause of the officer's injuries.
Damages and Awards

When you propose a lawsuit, it's usually to cover damages to you or your property. The award is usually money, but may be in other forms as well to compensate for injuries or other economic losses, medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Punitive damages are designed to further punish the person or company that has been found guilty in excess of the standard care one would expect.
Defenses to Personal Injury Lawsuits

If someone is being sued because they were somehow at fault, there are certain actions to take to defend themselves.

Contributory negligence is conduct by the plaintiff which creates an unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiff and which helps to cause the plaintiff's injuries. The plaintiff's negligence and the defendant's negligence together cause the plaintiff's injuries. In states which have adopted the doctrine of comparative negligence, the plaintiff's damages are reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff's contributory negligence.

Assumption of the risk is conduct by which one person agrees to assume the risk of harm arising from another person's negligence, or where a person agrees to accept the risk presented in a given situation. For example, a person can sign an agreement in which he agrees to not hold a second person liable for injuries caused by the second person's negligence. A person can assume a risk by taking action, such as pushing a vehicle in traffic, which involves accepting the risk of being hit by another vehicle.

Under the emergency doctrine, when a person is confronted with an emergency requiring immediate action and doesn't make a decision about what do, they can't be found negligent if they don't choose a course of action that would had a better outcome.


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