For many years, most people described these incidents as car “accidents.” This phrase is still in use. But the A-word implies that the collision was inevitable and unavoidable. That’s not true. Driver error causes over 90 percent of the car crashes in Florida. If this error was negligence, or a lack of ordinary care, crash victims are eligible for compensation. Furthermore, the A-word minimizes these wrecks. People accidentally leave the lights on. They don’t accidentally rear-end other motorists.
The diligent Orlando traffic collision attorneys at Payer Law work hard to obtain maximum compensation in these cases. We start by reviewing your case and connecting you with top-notch doctors. Then, we collect evidence which supports your claim and undermines insurance company defenses. Finally, when the case goes to court, we never stop fighting for you.
First Party Liability
Let’s take a closer look at the legal theories and evidence involved in a car crash claim.
As mentioned, establishing a lack of care is the key to a negligence claim. This lack of care could be a safety law violation or a lack of reasonable care.
The negligence per se presumption kicks in if a tortfeasor (negligent driver) violates a safety law and that violation substantially causes injury. Additional evidence usually ensures maximum compensation. More on that below.
Frequently, emergency responders don’t issue citations in these situations. Responders are there to secure the scene and tend to injured victims, not determine fault for a collision.
So, most vehicle collision claims use the ordinary negligence doctrine. In most cases, negligence is a lack of reasonable care. Some drivers, such as commercial operators, have a higher duty of care. If that lack of care causes injury, the tortfeasor could be liable for damages.
These damages normally include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Compensation is available if the victim/plaintiff establishes negligence by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
Frequently, the critical evidence in a car wreck claim is electronic evidence, such as the Event Data Recorder. Much like a commercial jet’s black box flight data recorder, an EDR measures and records information like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Engine RPM,
- Brake application, and
- Steering angle.
A skilled Orlando traffic collision attorney can put these bits of evidence together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, to create a compelling picture for jurors.
Third Party Liability
Drivers are legally responsible for damages, at least in most cases. Frequently, a third party is financially responsible for damages. Vicarious liability gives victim/plaintiffs an additional source of recovery in catastrophic injury cases. Many individuals don’t have enough insurance to pay fair compensation in a wrongful death or spine injury claim. Some common vicarious liability theories include:
- Respondeat Superior: Employers are usually responsible for their employees’ negligence, if the employee was working in the course and scope of employment. Florida law broadly defines these key terms. For example, independent contractors and other such workers are usually employees for negligence purposes.
- Dram Shop: This law applies to restaurants, bars, and other commercial alcohol providers. If these establishments sell alcohol to underage customers or customers who are habitually addicted to alcohol, they could be liable for damages if the patron causes a car crash. Proof of habitual addiction includes statements the tortfeasor makes and prior purchases at that establishment.
- Owner Liability: If owners knowingly allow incompetent drivers to operate their motor vehicles, and that operator causes a wreck, the owner could be vicariously liabel for damages. Evidence of incompetence includes no drivers’ license, safety-suspended license, and a poor driving record which includes recent at-fault collisions.
Largely because of vicarious liability issues, even a seemingly straightforward car wreck case is usually very complex. As a result, although these cases usually settle out of court, the process could take some time.
Contact a Hard-Working Orange County Lawyer
Injury victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced traffic collision attorney in Orlando, contact Payer Law. We have an office in Orlando.