Last month, three people were tragically killed in a vehicle collision when a Mitsubishi crossed the center-line of a two-lane road and crashed head-on into a minivan traveling in the other direction. Law enforcement officers are still investigating what caused the car to cross the center-line.
Types of Vehicle Collisions
Car crashes are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the nation. In many cases, these tragedies would have been avoided, but for the negligent actions of at least one of the drivers. Car crashes can happen in any number of ways, but some of the most common include:
- Head-on collisions;
- Rear-end collisions;
- Sideswipes; and
- Multi-car pile-ups.
Although most car accidents involve a collision caused by at least one party’s negligence, some crashes have other causes, including:
- Defective car parts;
- Improper vehicle maintenance;
- Road hazards; and
- Poor weather conditions.
Regardless of the cause, any type of car crash can result in painful and often expensive injuries.
Even when protective safety devices, such as seat belts and airbags are used, vehicle occupants can still suffer serious injuries in car accidents. While some walk away from collisions without a scratch, someone else involved in the same crash may suffer broken bones, paralysis, or even death.
Generally, the type and severity of an injury depends on the number of cars involved, the speed at which each vehicle was traveling, the size of the cars, and the health of the occupants. Still, there are a number of injuries that are commonly experienced by car accident victims, including:
- Spinal cord damage;
- Broken or crushed bones;
- Organ damage;
- Internal bleeding;
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Nerve damage;
- Lacerations and abrasions;
- Emotional distress; and
- Head trauma.
Elements of a Negligence Claim
Suffering injuries in a car accident is always traumatic, but it is especially tragic when the accident could have been avoided. Fortunately, those whose negligence caused someone else an injury can be held financially responsible for the losses the victim suffered. To establish that another person was negligent and therefore liable for the accident, victims must prove that:
- The responsible party was required by law to be reasonably careful;
- The responsible party’s conduct was unreasonable;
- The negligent conduct was the cause of the victim’s injuries; and
- The victim was injured or suffered property damage as a result of the conduct.
Because South Carolina adheres to the legal theory of comparative negligence, liability for injuries sustained in a car accident depend on the relative negligence of all the parties. Under this theory, the injured party isn’t barred from recovery even if his or her negligence contributed to the accident as long as the contribution was not more than the defendant’s.
In some cases, the cause of an accident is a problem with the vehicle itself or one of its parts. In this type of situation, victims can recover under the legal theory of product liability. There are two types of defective product claims involving vehicles, namely those arising from:
- A defectively designed vehicle or its parts; and
- A manufacturing defect.
To prove that a vehicle or its parts were defectively designed, the injured party must provide evidence that the designs themselves were unreasonably dangerous. Alternatively, plaintiffs may also argue that while the car’s design was acceptable, there was a mistake made in production at the facility where the vehicle or its part were built. In product liability cases, victims can hold manufacturers, designers, and even distributors accountable for their negligence.
Compensation for Injuries
It can be very expensive to obtain treatment for injuries. Some of the costs associated with treating victims include:
- Emergency treatment;
- Physical and psychological therapy;
- Appointments with specialists; and
- Transportation to and from appointments.
However, the costs of injuries in an accident often involves more than just hospital bills. For example, victims might be unable to work for months after a car crash. In some tragic cases, injuries cause disability that prevent a person from being able to return to work. Fortunately, these costs, among others can be compensated, including:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of future income;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Property damage.
The majority of car accidents – especially those that result in physical injuries to the driver(s) or/and passenger(s) – usually result in property damage to at least one vehicle, too. Costs of repair or even replacement can be prohibitively expensive so it is important to keep all documents related to the car’s damage, including receipts and inspections, so that the victim can be appropriately compensated.
What to Do If You’ve Been in an Accident
While car crashes can be frightening and overwhelming, it is still important for car accident victims to remember to take certain steps as soon as possible after the accident occurs. If you are ever involved in a collision, don’t forget to:
- Seek medical care from emergency responders for anyone who was injured in the accident. Be sure to visit a doctor for a follow-up appointment, so that the extent of your injuries can be documented.
- Contact law enforcement officials and file a collision report with the police. This will allow you to document the facts quickly and accurately and can save you time later on if the at-fault party denies responsibility for the accident.
- Gather contact information from those involved in the accident as well as any witnesses. This may include collecting not only names, but also phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information.
Once you are sure that no one involved in the accident is in danger and have obtained all necessary contact information, you should start thinking about finding an experienced attorney who can help explain your legal options.
Car crashes can be painful, traumatic, and financially devastating for victims and their families, so if you were injured in an accident and you believe someone else was at fault, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced car accident attorney in SC who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Please contact The Jeffcoat Firm by filling out one of our contact forms, including your name, phone number, email address, and a brief description of your case and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a free consultation.