Legally speaking, a car accident is defined as an incident involving at least one vehicle that has collided with another vehicle, road user (like a pedestrian) or roadside object (like a tree) resulting in a person or persons being injured or damage to property.

The first step in solving the complicated legal process triggered by a car accident is to decide whose fault it was.  Local, state and federal laws set out the rules and requirements used to determine who must be blamed. In all cases it is imperative to file an expedient and thorough police report setting out in as much detail as possible what had happened.   Also make sure that photographs are taken on the scene to show the damage to vehicles, property and give an accurate reflection of the condition of the road and the scene of the accident.

It is further of great importance to ensure that any injuries are accurately and fully reported on by medical personnel. Any existing conditions (like back problems) or previous injuries that have been made worse by the accident must also be noted with great care. In most cases an injured person’s medical bills will be paid by their own auto insurance carrier.

Generally speaking drivers have a “duty of reasonable care” which means that they are expected to take the necessary precautions to prevent injury to other motorists, pedestrians or the property of others.  If drivers fail to live up to this standard, they will be found to have been negligent and accordingly expected to make restitution for the damages caused by the accident. Negligent driving can take one of two forms – either through an action (like driving too fast) or a failure to do something (like failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing).

If you have been the victim of a car accident you are entitled to claim damages for injury, lost of income, pain and suffering and damage to property.

This process can be made more difficult of the negligent driver is found to be uninsured or under-insured. It is therefore very important to ensure that all relevant information is collected from the other driver or person involved in the accident. Where a negligent driver is associated with a government-, state- or federal body special procedures must be instituted to claim damages.

It is also important that statutes of limitation might apply that creates a specific time period in which a claim for personal injury must be filed. In the case of children legislation would normally allow for more time.

Claiming for damages is often a complicated process – made even more difficult by the wide variety of scenarios confronting the victims of car accidents including the involvement of possible third parties or mechanical failures of vehicles.

There are several specialized claims that can be instituted to reclaim damages including: lawsuits for hit-and-run accidents where the driver is held liable for failing to stop at the scene of an accident; claims instituted on behalf of bicyclists who are injured in collisions with cars or when motorists inadvertently open car doors in front of them; bus accidents; accidents involving trailers, claims arising from accidents caused by debris on the road.

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