Car Accidents in Rutland
Even the safest driver in the world risks being involved in a car accident, as it only takes one moment of someone’s else’s carelessness (negligence) to cause a car accident. Most car accidents are caused by human error, such as driving too fast for conditions, speeding, driving while distracted, driving while impaired, performing an illegal maneuver, failing to yield, etc. When this is the case, the at-fault driver can be held responsible for the damages that result. But it’s not just drivers who cause accidents. Other causes of car accident, although much less common, include:
- Dangerous road conditions such as debris in the road or potholes that haven’t been repaired;
- Incorrect signage such as signs that are incorrectly placed within a construction zone; and
- Vehicle defects including defective tires, brakes, etc.
If you are involved in a car accident, one of the first things that you want to do is begin collecting evidence to help determine fault and prove liability.
The extent of damage that will result from a car accident depends on a number of variables, including how fast the vehicles involved were traveling at the time of the collision and the type of accident. For example, head-on collisions tend to be much more deadly, statistically, than are rear-end collisions. With that in mind, the damages suffered by the occupant of a motor vehicle involved in a crash might include:
- Serious injuries. As stated above, car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death. Serious injuries that are possible in a car accident include, but are not limited to, internal injuries, face and scalp injuries, traumatic brain injuries, back and neck injuries, soft tissue injuries, bone fracture injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
- Medical expenses. Going to the doctor is very expensive, and the costs to treat even minor injuries may be significant. In many cases, medical costs are very high, especially for a person whose injuries result in the need for surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation, and future care. It is not unusual for medical expenses to exceed $100,000 in serious injury cases. However, even injuries that do not result in such catastrophic medical expenses can be very serious. Traumatic brain injuries, for example, often have little expensive treatment but are still life-changing.
- Lost wages. If the injuries that are suffered in a crash are serious, then it may be impossible for the affected individual to return to work immediately. In fact, in some cases, an injured person may not be able to return to work for months, years, or indefinitely.
- Property damage costs. Of course, an accident can be expensive if the vehicle involved is damaged. If the accident is particularly severe, the vehicle may be deemed a total loss and may need to be replaced.
- Lost enjoyment of life. For many victims of car accidents, life does not return to normal. People sometimes live with limitations to their daily activities and therefore lose parts of life that are very important to their happiness and well-being. Some people find that the exercise they used to enjoy is no longer possible, or that activities that were once easy now take effort or assistance. These are damages that should be considered in setting compensation for the person’s losses.
- Pain and suffering. Finally, a car accident often results in more than just economic losses, but noneconomic ones too. Pain, suffering, and emotional distress can affect anyone who has been seriously injured.
Fault and Comparative
Negligence in a Vermont Car Accident Claim
For most people who have been involved in a car crash in Rutland, VT or surrounding areas of our state, filing a car accident claim against the at-fault party’s insurance is only the first step in settling a claim. Many times, the insurance company offers only a fraction of what the injured person has suffered in losses. Insurance companies are in the business of making profits, and profits are affected by how much the insurance company pays in damages. If the damages suffered are severe or fault is disputed, the case may require litigation to resolve. When a car accident claim goes to court, comparative negligence may have a significant effect on its outcome. Comparative negligence rules relate to a plaintiff’s ability to recover compensation from another at-fault party if the plaintiff contributed to their injuries. For example, if you are involved in an accident and the other driver is 90 percent at fault and you are 10 percent at fault, do you still have a right to pursue damages against the other driver?
According to Vermont’s modified comparative negligence law, yes – you do have a right to pursue compensation against another party, even if you contributed to your accident and injuries to some degree, so long as your share of liability does not exceed 50 percent. However, while you may be able to recover compensation, your recovery award will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
Vermont Car Accident
Statute of Limitations
In addition to comparative fault, another important element of a car accident claim to keep in mind is the statute of limitations – the legal limit on how much time you have to file a claim in Vermont. In Vermont, you have three years from the date of your accident to file a claim for damages related to property damage or injuries for a car crash claim. If you wait longer than three years to file a claim in court, then you can be permanently barred from recovery. This is one of the primary reasons why we urge you to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a crash – the other is related to the importance of collecting evidence while it’s fresh.
Call Our Rutland, VT Car Accident Attorney Today
At the offices of Larson & Gallivan Law, our Rutland, VT car accident attorneys understand the trauma of a crash and how shocking it can be to suffer serious injuries and incur high costs. When you call our law firm, we’ll work hard to prosecute your claim, calculate your damages, and negotiate for a settlement that’s fair. Please reach out to our law firm today by phone or online to get started. We offer free consultations for injury cases, and work on a contingency fee basis with no upfront or hourly fees.