Bronx Car Accident Law
You may have many questions and concerns in the aftermath of a serious car accident in the Bronx. Medical bills may be mounting, you may be unable to return to work, and the pain may be relentless. In most cases, victims can obtain relief from these burdens by bringing a personal injury claim against the driver or other parties who were responsible for harming them. Whether you were struck in a high-speed highway crash or in a side-impact collision at a city intersection, you have legal rights to assert if someone else caused your accident.
Proving Negligence in Car Accident Cases
Establishing liability in a car accident case generally involves proving the elements of a negligence claim. These are a duty of care, a breach of duty, causation, and damages. In the context of car accidents, the duty of care simply means the responsibility of all drivers to handle their vehicles safely, paying attention to their surroundings and respecting others around them. A breach of duty consists of any action that falls short of this standard. For example, a driver who runs a red light and slams into a car that had the right of way would have breached the duty of care. The same would be true for a driver who is busy reading a text message while traveling along I-95 and fails to notice slowing traffic ahead, causing a rear-end collision.
The element of causation means that the accident would not have happened if the defendant had used the appropriate care. It also must have been something that was foreseeable in the situation. This sounds straightforward, but sometimes causation can be more complicated. A car accident might result from more than one cause, such as when a driver who is speeding through an intersection strikes a driver who failed to yield. If the speeding driver sues the driver who failed to yield, that driver might argue that the speeding driver could have avoided the crash or reduced the impact if they had been obeying the speed limit. Under the rule of comparative negligence in New York, the speeding driver’s percentage of fault for causing the accident would be evaluated, and any award of damages would be reduced by that percentage. Thus, if they incurred $200,000 in damages and were found to be 20 percent at fault, for example, they could recover $160,000 from the defendant.
The final element in a car accident case, damages, requires proving all of the economic and non-economic costs and losses that naturally resulted from the collision. This might involve introducing documentary evidence (such as medical bills, pay stubs, and police reports), eyewitness testimony, and expert testimony. Some of the experts who may be useful in car accident cases include accident reconstruction specialists who can determine the cause of the crash, medical professionals who can describe the nature of the victim’s injuries, and vocational rehabilitation experts who can explain the impact of the injuries on the victim’s career and earning capacity.
Time of the Essence
Gathering evidence to prove the liability of a defendant is a critical component of success in a personal injury case. Thus, accident victims should contact an attorney as soon as possible after a crash. They should also be aware of the statute of limitations for personal injury cases, which is three years from the date of an accident. A claim brought more than three years afterward probably will be dismissed without ever being considered on the merits, unless the plaintiff’s attorney can show that an exception to the statute of limitations should apply.
The statute of limitations is only two years in wrongful death cases based on a fatal car accident. These are actions brought by the personal representative of the estate of a victim, seeking damages for the estate and the surviving family members. For example, if the victim was the primary economic provider for their family, they may suffer financial hardship until they find a new source of income. If the victim had a close relationship with their children and played a key role in their upbringing, these children may suffer severe emotional harm from their loss. These damages can be compensated through a wrongful death claim, as well as more tangible costs related to the victim’s death, such as medical bills and funeral expenses.
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