Being involved in a car accident can be traumatic. Things can get even worse if someone else caused the accident and they refuse to compensate you for damages and your medical bills. Whenever that happens, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit and plead your case to a judge. Even if you and your lawyer think your case will be an easy win, there are still some unexpected things that can come to light in court. Here are three things that can affect your ability to win compensation in a personal injury case.
1. No-fault car insurance laws.
Some states have no-fault car insurance laws. That means that all drivers are expected to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their car insurance policy. After an accident, each driver will collect compensation from their own insurer - no matter who caused the accident.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you can never get compensation from the driver responsible for the accident. It just means that you will need to collect from your own insurance policy first, and then your injuries usually have to meet a certain requirement set by your state. An example of such a requirement would be that your medical bills have to reach a certain dollar amount before you can sue the driver who caused the accident.
If your state is a no-fault state, you will likely not be able to collect the full amount of the costs associated with your medical bills and car repairs from the other driver. You will need to talk to a personal injury lawyer to see what your options are for compensation if you live in a no-fault state.
2. You share in the fault for the accident.
Even if the official police report states the defendant was the only one at fault for the accident, they are still going to claim you were as much to blame as they were. Sometimes the evidence does end up proving both parties contributed to causing the accident. If that happens in your case, the amount you can win in compensation can be affected.
For states that follow contributory negligence when determining shared fault in an accident, you can be completely barred from winning compensation from the other driver. It doesn't matter how small your degree of fault is either.
However, most states follow a version of comparative negligence when determining shared fault. This means that you can still win compensation in your personal injury case, but you likely won't win the full amount you ask for.
With pure comparative negligence, you and the defendant will have a certain percentage of the accident assigned to you. Then, you will only be able to sue the defendant for the amount of the accident they caused. For example, if the court finds you responsible for 35% of the accident and the defendant responsible for 65%, you can only sue them for 65% of the costs you incurred from the accident.
Many states follow one of two modified versions of comparative negligence. One version has the 51% rule, which states that your degree of fault can't go over 50% if you want to collect damages from the other driver. Another version has the 50% rule, which states your degree of fault can't go over 49% if you want to win compensation.
3. The statute of limitations.
As with most legal matters, you don't have unlimited time to file your personal injury case. Each state has a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims. They vary from one year to 10 years - depending on the state and type of personal injury case you file.
If you don't file your case within the statute of limitations, you won't be able to win any compensation from the driver who caused the accident. For this reason, you shouldn't wait too long after the accident to sue the other driver if they refuse to pay. For more advice, speak with professionals like Large & Associates Attorneys.Share