What to Do When Your Auto Accident Results in a Personal Property Damage Lawsuit

Finding yourself at the receiving end of a personal property damage claim can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you don’t have the money to pay for an accident that may or may not have been caused by your negligence, you may need to turn to an experienced auto accidents lawyer to make sure that you aren’t ordered to pay a huge sum of money for something that wasn’t your fault – or worse, end up with a conviction on your record. Your auto accidents attorney will help you minimize the damage, and may even be able to help you win the case altogether.

Negligence Claims

In most cases, someone who files a personal property damage lawsuit in small claims court will file a negligence claim. Negligence claims operate on the theory that you knew there was a problem with your vehicle and did nothing about it. For example, if you smashed into your neighbor’s fence while driving because your brakes suddenly stopped working and you knew they needed repair, it would be a case of negligence. You will need to prove that you didn’t know there was a problem with your brakes, or that there shouldn’t have been a problem with your brakes (if you just had the brake pads changed, for example), in order to win the case.

Intentional Damage Claims

Intentional damage cases are rarer than negligence claims, and are fortunately easier to defend in many circumstances. Using the earlier example, your neighbor could claim that you destroyed his fence on purpose because of a long-standing rivalry between your families. In this case, you will simply need to prove an extenuating circumstance that caused you to run into his fence – for example, the road was slick from the rain that day and you slid out in the middle of a turn. Even if he could prove negligence at this point, perhaps by saying that you knew you needed new tires or you were driving too fast, he would have to file a separate negligence claim instead to benefit from the accident.

What You Can Do

Immediately after an accident that involves personal property damage, the best way to start building a strong defense is to stay on the scene until the police arrive so you can give a statement. This will show the courts that you were willing to cooperate from the beginning in case a claim is ever filed. Take pictures of anything and everything that might help your case, and keep every piece of insurance paperwork you file and repair estimates you collect.

Hiring an Auto Accidents Lawyer

As soon as you find out that you are begin sued for property damage, consult an accidents attorney to find out what steps you need to take next. You should have a little time to prepare, but having an attorney on your side can help you take the most advantage of that time. With a good accidents lawyer on your side, you will be able to build the strongest defense possible and hopefully avoid paying anything out-of-pocket to the plaintiff.

Being Involved in an Auto Accident with Children

by Ali Golchin

Since children under 18 years of age are not treated the same as adults in the eyes of law, any legal matter involving them can get tricky. If you have a child that was injured in a car accident, either as a pedestrian or as a passenger, it is important to know what steps you can take to claim compensation. Children are just as entitled as adults are to compensation when they are injured automobile accidents. By hiring an auto accident attorney, you can be sure that your child recovers the damages that they deserve.

Making a Claim on Behalf of the Child

It may seem strange to try and file an auto accident claim for your child who is under 18 years of age, but as their parent, it is your choice. Your child is not able to file a claim for themselves and if they were injured in the accident, you need to be able to pay for their medical needs and anything else that may come up because of the accident. An auto accident attorney can help you through the process so that you know what is required and how to file the claim.

Once your child turns 18, they can file claims on their own for any automobile accidents. If you started the claim for your child before they turned 18 years of age, the child should take responsibility for the claim once they are of age. Furthermore, if you decide not to file a claim for an auto accident for your teenage child, they can file one themselves once they are 18.

If your child suffered serious injuries and are not medically capable of dealing with their own claim, they will not be responsible for it once they turn 18.

The Litigation Friend

You are considered your child’s litigation friend when you file a claim on their behalf. This title is given to you in any documentation to keep the claim clear and easy to understand. It is important to note that the litigation friend is independent of the claim, so if you are to blame for the accident, you may not file a claim for your child. In this situation, the other parent or any close relative can file the claim on your child’s behalf. Your insurance will have to pay out to your child along with the other party if they are at fault.

If the claim is won, the litigation friend doesn’t receive any compensation. The money is put into a trust for the child and is only accessible with permission from the court until the child is 18 years of age.

If your child is involved in an auto accident, things can get complicated without the help of an auto accident attorney who is familiar with automobile accidents involving children.

Accident Attorney Tips: Determining Who Is at Fault in an Auto Incident

In case you use any means of transportation other than public transportation, inevitably you will have to deal with some situations involving accidents. In moments like that you might wonder what determines who is at fault in a car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle accident. Generally speaking, the faulty party is considered to be the driver who didn’t obey the rules and the law.

The rules for vehicle accidents

In case of the vehicle accidents there is a set of rules which tell people how they are supposed to drive. These rules also provide ways to measure liability. In order for someone to get their driver’s license, they have to pass a test based on these rules. The complete set of rules can be found in the state’s vehicle code. While some might think that these rules only apply to cars, there are also rules for motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians.

Different situations might raise different questions

In some cases it is very clear who the faulty party is. For instance if a driver runs a red light and crashes into another car, it is clear that it was their fault. However, in other cases the violation of the rules might not be that clear. It is common for accidents to happen when cars need to merge into one single line. The cases of this kind are governed by the negligence law.

Although negligence doesn’t have a very specific definition, a negligent person is considered to be someone who acts carelessly or thoughtlessly. If a pedestrian, cyclist or driver causes an accident because of their negligence, they can at least partially be found at fault.

How to prove negligence

In order for someone to prove the negligence of another person, there are three aspects they will have to think about:

  1. The person in question is required by the law to act carefully in that given situation (this is a given fact since all drivers have to be cautious at all times)
  2. The driver (biker or pedestrian) wasn’t careful
  3. The driver’s action caused damage or injury to another person

Police reports

In case you are asking what determines who is at fault in a car, truck, motorcycle, or bicycle accident, it is good to know that these are the documents that determine the fault of a person. If the police arrived to the accident, there is a good chance you could get the report from the police. In many cases the report includes who caused the accident. If it doesn’t mention who violated the regulations, at least it contains what happened from the police officer’s point of view.

In the majority of the cases it isn’t difficult to determine who the faulty party is and they will be held liable for their actions.

Auto Accidents Tips: What Is a Deposition?

Whether you are a party in an auto accident claim or just a witness, you should know what exactly to expect from your deposition in court. Below are a few important tips

What kind of a trial is one involving a car accident?

Any accidents attorney will tell you this is considered a civil suit. While the rules governing lawsuits vary from state to state, civil actions generally follow the same format. There will be three distinct stages involved:

–          1. Law suit commencement procedures. Generally, the Plaintiff begins a lawsuit by filing a “petition” or “complaint” in court. The Defendant will answer the lawsuit by also filing documents with the court.

–          2. Discovery. This is also known the lengthiest phase of a lawsuit based on auto accidents. The purpose of discovery is to allow both sides to exchange information and documentation about their respective claims and defenses. What will it consist of?  First of all, it will be based on the exchange of written documentation, from medical records, medical bills to witness statements, police reports, and photographs of the accident scene. Also as part of the discovery are interrogatories, written questions sent from one party to another.

–          3. The Deposition.  This is another legal method to obtain information relevant to a car accident case. In a deposition,  a party’s legal representative will ask questions of another person who has information that is pertinent to something having to do with the car accident.

Who can be involved in depositions?

A wide group of people involved in an accident may be involved- from the cars’ drivers, to passengers in those cars, various witnesses, medical experts who provided treatments, police officers who worked on a case. There really is no limit to the types of persons who can be deposed as part of a car accident lawsuit. Typically, the only requirement is that the deponent possesses information related to the lawsuit.

Other tips about depositions

Generally, a deposition can be conducted anywhere, but most court rules require that it should be held at a location reasonably close to where the witness resides. Typically, this will occur in the office of one of the attorneys involved in the lawsuit.

A handful o people will attend a deposition. This restricted group of people includes the attorney who is requesting the deposition, the witness and their attorney, other legal reps in the lawsuit and a court appointed reporter. The latter is a very important part in the entire process. This is because testimony is usually done under oath and it needs to be officially recorded.

Giving testimony under oath means that if the witness is later found to have given knowingly false testimony, they can be subject to criminal penalties.

What kind of questions will be asked?

Once the deposition process starts, the witness will be asked basic questions about their connection to the lawsuit, following specific questions about the incident itself. Generally, the investigating attorney will want to know what the witness observed as the car accident occurred. If the witness is a medical expert, the questions will be related to the prognosis for recovery from the injuries. Sometimes the parties may wish to depose the investigating law enforcement officer, who can provide more detail about the officer’s observations while at the accident scene.

Do’s and Don’ts after an Auto Accident: Follow Your Lawyers’ Advice

Have you been the victim of a traffic accident? Although many people believe they are as prepared as can be in such cases, an auto accident happens out of the blue and the complications it can bring with it are countless. This is why you will need the help of a specialized attorney, no matter how bad your injury or how severe the material damage that you have suffered.

Below are a few dos and don’ts that every driver should be aware of:

Do Not admit fault in front of anyone.

Usually statements made at the scene of the accident can be used as hard evidence against you in a trial. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be cooperating with the police investigation but just limit yourself to giving your insurance and licence information, without emotionally admitting to any guilt.

Do Not sign any documents for the other driver

At some point during the initial investigation, the other driver involved in the incident may ask you to sign some documents for his insurance company. Do not do this without first seeking advice from a specialized accidents attorney. By signing any such papers, you can lose some of your own insurance benefits.

Do Not give a written statement or a recorded one to the other driver

Actually, do not let anyone record your voice after a traffic incident. You are not required by law to do so and even if you do not have anything to hide, some of your statements can be used against you by being taken out of the context.

Do report the accident to your insurance agency

In some cases, an insurance company has the right to refuse to protect you, if you did not report the incident promptly to them. By instantly calling your agent, you can also find out what benefits are available under your own policy. You may not be aware of this, but sometimes some of these insurance benefits can be used while you settle your claim with the other party.  Also, entire cooperation with your insurance company will be in your best interest. Generally, an agent will inspect your car or speak to the physician who treated you.

Do seek prompt medical attention

If you have been injured following a traffic accident and you do not seek medical attention, this can definitely hurt your claim. Make sure to document any medical bills and any time you have spent off work.

 Do seek early legal advice

This is probably the most valuable piece of advice anyone would give you after being involved in an auto accident. Only with the help of a specialized attorney you will be able to get through this challenging incident without too many damages. So contact your local accidents attorney immediately after the accident and make sure you inform them on all specific details.

Traffic Offenses: Legal Consequences Affecting Drivers Who Leave the Scene of an Auto Accident

According to recent statistics, more than 5 million auto accidents took place across the US, in 2010, killing 32,885 people and injuring another 2,239,000 victims. While the prompt intervention of a team of paramedics can save lives, in some cases the driver flees the scene without announcing the accident, considerably decreasing the victims’ chances of survival. A sudden panic attack and high levels of anxiety triggered by an auto accident often direct the driver to leave the scene of the accident and become responsible for a serious offense. The law clearly stipulates the fact that a driver involved in any type of auto accident should:

  1. Provide immediate assistance to everyone who got injured in the accident;
  2. Exchange information with the other driver, or with the owner of the damaged property; and
  3. Inform the police about the accident, in case police officers are not already in the area.

When drivers fail to comply with the three important rules listed above, they automatically expose themselves to considerable fines and/or significant jail time and are usually charged by police officers with various offenses, including failure to stop after a traffic accident, failure to provide assistance to all people involved in the accident, failure to exchange addresses and names, and failure to alert the authorities. The gravity of the legal consequences threatening your freedom and your welfare depends on the gravity of your traffic accident. If the crash has resulted in fatalities or severe injuries, you could be charged with an indictable offence. In such cases, one should expect to spend up to 10 years in jail and to pay a huge fine. It goes without saying that a competent lawyer could make things a whole lot easier for you by offering excellent legal assistance and helping you understand the particularities of your case and your real options.

Things You Should Know Before Going to Court

If you’ve made yourself responsible for an auto accident and you’ve also left the scene of the accident, prepare yourself for a lengthy battle in court. You have three main options at hand: you can declare yourself guilty, declare yourself not guilty, or take the whole blame for the accident and hope to enter a diversion program. Diversion has numerous benefits: it allows you to live the rest of your life without the stigma of a criminal record while being charged with a lesser offence after successfully completing all phases of this program (which may include counseling, therapy, and/or community service). Generally, diversion is for drivers who have caused auto accidents with less severe consequences. The prosecution will strive to prove the following: the fact that you were driving, the fact that an accident took place, and the fact that you disobeyed the law and failed to provide assistance to your victims and/or to exchange addresses and names with the owners of the damaged property.

Hit-and-run cases are always problematic and require excellent legal representation from a competent attorney who specializes in auto accidents. If you have recently fled the scene of an accident, it is advisable to contact an experienced lawyer and discuss your options as soon as possible to avoid severe legal repercussions.

San Diego Accident Attorney: How to Determine When You Need a Good One

Recent statistics indicate the fact that nearly 17,000 deaths and over 300,000 serious injuries happen every year in the United States as a result of auto incidents. No matter if you are the victim or the cause, such an event can affect your life for the long term and bring about serious material and personal damage. When you are at the scene of an accident, you don’t think straight and the smallest action you do can cause irreparable harm. Your first priority should be to contact your San Diego accident attorney as soon as possible. If you don’t already have a lawyer to represent you, maybe it is time you started looking for one.

When do you require the services of a San Diego accident attorney?

A car accident lawyer is the type of professional you will definitely need when something goes wrong following a traffic incident. Most people will tell you that the first steps should be calling the police and then your insurance adjuster, but the process won’t always be as easy as you might hope. Without specialized help from an attorney who has done this kind of work before, your insurance settlement might turn out to be quite unsatisfactory, or the legal consequences of that auto incident might be more severe.

You will require the services of a San Diego accident attorney when:

1)    Settlement amount is far from enough to cover the damages

Insurance companies are considering a lot of factors when calculating your claim, so many times they may come up with a much smaller settlement amount than what you had originally anticipated. There are also situations when your insurance agent will completely ignore the long-term effects a car accident may bring into your life, such as your need for physical therapy or your inability to go to work. With a specialized attorney by your side, these omissions will not happen.

2)    When you are being sued by the other party

If it is proven that you have been the one who has caused the accident, your insurance policy will theoretically cover the debt, but sometimes that amount will not be enough for the injured party. As a result, they may be coming after you. A specialized San Diego accident attorney will know exactly what legal steps to take in order to save you potentially thousands of dollars in damages to the other party.

3)    When you are facing criminal charges

Many things can go wrong during and after an auto accident. You may have committed an act that caused the police to press charges against you, or sometimes the injured party will choose to do that as well. You will undoubtedly need the services of an accident lawyer with years of experience to help you get through this without too much trouble. Sometimes charges can be dropped due to all sorts of technical mistakes the police made at the scene, and a good accident attorney will be able to find all of these technical details that can save you from getting a criminal file with your name on it.

Even if you have been involved in an apparently insignificant traffic incident, things can go wrong. This is why it is best to have the name and contact info of a reliable San Diego accident attorney who can help you navigate the daunting legal system and get away from challenging situations.

Kinds of Auto Accidents Damages that Are Acceptable in Court

If you have been involved in an incident, have been harmed and are looking to pursue a claim for damages, there are many options available.

In order to win a personal injury lawsuit, you and your lawyer will have to prove without a doubt that: 1) the other driver had a duty of care, in other words, they had a responsibility to avoid the incident; 2) the other driver exhibited signs of sheer negligence; 3) you were injured or suffered some sort of damage.

Speaking of damages, these are directly related to the kind of compensation you will receive. In some cases, state laws will allow you to get an additional compensation for punitive damages, which means your attorney will have to prove that the other driver exhibited clear signs of negligence before the accident occurred.

The main types of damages acceptable in court and paid by insurance policies are:

1)      Medical expenses

Auto accidents can cause minor injuries but they also can bring about major ones that will cause disability, even death. Even if you make a full recovery following such an incident, you can request compensation to cover your past, present and even future medical expenses, including surgery, consultation and therapy. You may want your physician to assist in calculating the extent of treatment you may still need, in case of a longer period recovery process.

Additional costs may entail the services of a nurse, cleaning service, therapist or recovery assistant for temporary or permanent disability.

2)      Damage to property

These costs may involve car repair fees as well as other personal property replacement or repair costs. A specialized lawyer will be able to assist in putting together a list with all the damaged goods as a result of your car accident.

3)      Loss of employment and/or wages

If the injuries you suffered as a result of an auto accident have prevented you from going to work, you may file for loss of wages. Even if you were unemployed at the time of the incident but you can provide proof of how much you could have earned in that time, you are entitled to compensation. Additional costs can be calculated if you had to take time off for doctor’s appointments or therapy sessions.

4)      Personal pain damages

A good lawyer will have to be able to prove that you have suffered not only physical pain as a result of an incident, but that you were also subject to psychological pain, anxiety, stress and humiliation. Also, in the case of physical afflictions, the longer the full recovery takes, the bigger the claims can be.

There are also additional damages, such as loss of affection, when you have lost someone in a car accident. In this case, you or your family can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Loss of life compensation is calculated in conjunction with insurance companies and a court specialist and based on a number of factors, such as the dead person’s age, earning potential and so on.

If you are wondering how much compensation you actually deserve, you should first consider the type of damage that was inflicted upon you. A reliable attorney with a long line of winnings in such auto accidents claims will be the best ally on your corner, in this case.

The Role of a Deportation Lawyer After an Auto Accident

Being involved in an auto accident is frightening enough as it is without having to be concerned about immigration services becoming involved. Regardless of where you are in your efforts to become a permanent resident or U.S. citizen, if you are involved in any form of criminal activity or activity that requires police involvement, the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also referred to as ICE, may also become involved. This department is focused on controlling immigration and ensuring that all people that are in this country are here legally, and that those that are seeking residency or citizenship remain compliant with U.S. laws. This means that you are likely to come into contact with these authorities many times while seeking your residency or citizenship. This is especially true if you encounter any legal complications.

An auto accident may not seem like a major issue related to your immigration at the time that it occurs, but it can quickly become extremely serious if you are arrested for any fault associated with the accident and are turned into immigration services.

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