Life after a car accident can be confusing if you do not have the basics at your fingertips. There are a lot of things you need to know regarding the legal aspect of an accident. You have to know the possible legal ramifications of the accident and the type of damages you can recover. You must also have an idea as to how an attorney can help you to get the compensation you deserve and what to do after the accident.
The events that follow a car accident are based on a set of rules formulated by the state you live in. The rules attempt to determine who is responsible for the injury and the damage resulting from the accident. The rules require you to prove duty, breach, causation and harm. Duty means that the driver has a legal obligation to observe the traffic rules and drive in a responsible manner. Breach requires you to give concrete evidence that the driver did not perform his duty on the road. You must also prove that the driver’s failure to observe the traffic rules caused the accident and resulted in injuries and damages.
Legal Ramifications of an Accident
Legal ramifications following an accident can result in civil or criminal liability. Most of these ramifications depend on the actions of the people involved in the accident. For instance, a driver who does not stop after hitting someone can face criminal liability charges. Negligent people who don’t observe the basic traffic rules or those who drive while intoxicated will also face criminal liability charges. However, most states handle accident cases on a civil level where the injured person sues the negligent driver or the insurance company.
States such as California have penalty codes for drivers who fail to observe their due diligence before and after an accident. For instance, a driver who causes an accident and flees the scene will eventually face the consequences. The same predicament awaits those who drive while drunk or fail to observe the traffic rules. Under California law, someone convicted of hit and run can be charged based on section 20001 and 20002 of Vehicle Codes. Section 20001 highlights possible penalties for hit and run drivers who cause serious injuries or death. Vehicle Code 20001 is regarded as an act of felony and attracts a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 plus a jail term not exceeding three years.
Section 20002 gives guidelines on hit and run that causes damages only. This law states that if you damage someone’s property such as a fence or a landscape, you must stop even if your car is not affected. It is usually treated as a misdemeanor crime and carries some penalties. You may get a jail term of up to one year or a fine ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
Types of Damages You Can Recover After an Accident
You can recover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, property loss, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment.
Loss of wages occurs when the injury keeps you from working. You can seek compensations to cover the lost wages you could have earned. In property loss, you can claim the amount of money you spent on repairs and replacements of a damaged property due to the accident. In most cases, you will suffer psychological harm such as fear, anxiety and lack of sleep. In this case, you may seek compensation for emotional distress. Loss of consortium occurs when the injury affects the relationship between you and the children or spouse.
How a Lawyer Can Help
If you are a victim of an accident, you can contact a lawyer to help you. A personal injury lawyer has a lot of experience and will tell whether your case is worth pursuing. If the case presents a viable claim, the lawyer will come up with a course of legal action to take. The lawyer will handle all the communications and negotiations with the insurance companies in a bid to get the right compensation. If you are seriously injured, the lawyer may recommend medical tests and procedures that may help you to get the right treatment. The lawyer will also help you to come up with a rough estimate of the settlement value before the case begins.
What to Do After an Accident
The first thing you should do after an accident is to stop and check yourself for any injury. Also, check for the well-being of others involved in the accident. Call 911 or ask someone else to do so if you are seriously injured. If the accident involves another driver, reach out to him and exchange details, including insurance information. Do not engage in arguments with the other driver regarding who is at fault. Take a picture of the scene, talk to witnesses and jot down their contacts. Above all, talk to a personal injury lawyer, especially if you have issues with your insurance company.