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When filing a claim for compensation for injury from an accident in the USA you must first approach the insurance company of the erring driver for settlement as almost 95% case settlements happens this way. In case there is some dispute or the plaintiff is not satisfied with the settlement that the case moves to the court and it can take a long time for settlement. Even high-value claims go to the court directly because usually, these are quite complex. In any case, you need a lawyer to represent your case either to the insurance company or in the court because it becomes easy to navigate through the legal process and reach a settlement. Insurance companies engage lawyers to settle personal injury cases and to negotiate with them efficiently to arrive at a fair settlement; you must also hire a lawyer.
The settlement with insurance companies seems to be easier at least with respect to providing proof about many things because even anything that is not legally perfect as a proof is acceptable to insurance companies. You can argue in plain language to establish your point that the negligence of the other party resulted in the accident that harmed you in many ways besides any physical injuries sustained. For example, just mentioning that the driver of the other car hit you from behind is enough to demonstrate who was at fault. It does not require furnishing the precise angle of a collision or the size of tires. By using the knowledge of traffic rules, it is easy to infer who was at fault.
On presenting your case with a good argument as to why the other person should be held responsible for the accident the insurance company would realize that there are enough legal points which any court would admit and hold the other party legally responsible. Insurance companies usually prefer quick settlement because delay could only escalate the settlement amount as it could end up by paying not only for injuries but also the legal cost if the case goes to the court.
The plaintiff may be at fault too
Although it is easy to presume that the other party is at fault and wholly responsible for the accident, the reality is that sometimes the plaintiff might also be responsible for the accident to some extent. It means that both the plaintiff and defendant must share the responsibility for causing the accident. If this happens, then also you can receive compensation from the other party partially responsible for the accident. To determine the amount of compensation the insurer or judge or jury would compare the extent of carelessness between the two parties. For example, if your fault is 40% and that of the other party is 60% you stand to receive compensation for 60% only. The rule underlying the process is known as comparative negligence.
However, some states can deny you compensation if your carelessness is substantial that contributed to the accident because according to legal analysis, it amounts to contributory negligence. The amount of responsibility that you share in causing the accident if at all, depends on how well you negotiate with the insurance company to ascertain how much of your carelessness contributed to the accident.
Determining the degree of carelessness is completely subjective, and there is no formula for it. It is determined through the process of negotiation with the insurance adjuster with each party trying to convince the other about the least possibility for holding them responsible with reasons supported by facts. It begins with each party declaring the proportion that they feel reasonable and then through negotiations arrive at a final figure. However, there are some basic rules in determining carelessness which lawyers are aware of and can build your case to minimize your responsibility.
What happens if the accident happens due to your physical infirmity?
Accidents can also happen if the plaintiff has some physical infirmity or deficiency that prevents them from having good control in their body movements. If you have poor eyesight and glasses, do not give good vision or you limp a little when you walk because you have a bad knee that restricts foot movement and you fall on a broken stair, the question arises if you are entitled to receive compensation. That the stair was broken is reason enough to prove the fault of the other party because any other fit and an able person could also fall like you. The law protects the right of people in case of accidents regardless of their physical condition. The premise is that every person has the legal right to make their way anywhere without unnecessary danger. If owners and occupants of property pose an unnecessary danger to others accessing the property, they become completely responsible for any harm that happens to others. The same principle applies to drivers who must not create unnecessary danger for others.
So far, we have talked about carelessness, which suits the layman’s language but to explain negligent behavior in legal language the right term to use is negligence. The term negligence encapsulates any careless behavior that contributes to an accident or causes it. For example, if a driver does not care to stop at the red light when crossing a signal or ignores a stop sign and then hits someone on the road or another car at the intersection it amounts to negligence.
The law stipulates that every person has a duty to act responsibly and carefully, but when anyone fails to do so, the behavior clearly demonstrates negligence. In any given situation, we have the duty to act with ordinary and reasonable care, which ensures that it will not injure others and violating the basic guideline could show that people are negligent. Driving at night wearing sunglasses contravenes the spirit of the law that upholds the duty to act responsibly and thereby prove that the person is negligent.
To hold a person legally responsible for any accident, it is necessary to prove that the accused was negligent that caused the accident and injured people. And when you can prove the point, you will surely get the compensation you claim.