If you have just been involved in an auto accident, life may seem a little overwhelming right now. You have to deal with medical bills, potential time off of work, and an array of other issues while you heal and try to get your life back on track. Fortunately, the law provides legal options after an auto accident that may help you deal with these issues. An auto accident attorney can be an invaluable resource to get this process started.
Whether You Live in a Fault State or No-Fault State
What your case will look like depends on whether you live in a fault or no-fault state. Massachusetts is a no-fault state while both New Hampshire and Rhode Island are fault states. Fault will be the major focus in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, but the case will look very different in Massachusetts.
Auto Accidents in Fault States
Fault can be difficult to determine in some cases, while it is easy to discern in others. For example, if someone runs a stoplight and hits you, fault is very straightforward. If, however, you merged into a car that you did not see because they were speeding, determining legal responsibility can be more difficult.
In fault states, you must work with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or the driver him or herself in asserting your claim. This often makes these claims more difficult than no-fault states because there is an adversarial relationship between the parties.
Proving liability in fault states involves showing four major concepts.
- The other driver owed you a legal duty.
This requirement is generally easy to meet because every driver owes all other drivers on the road a duty of care. You are expected to operate your vehicle in a reasonable manner given the situation.
- The duty was breached.
A driver violates his or her duty to other drivers by behaving unreasonably. This is often referred to as “negligence.” If the accident could have been avoided by the other driver operating their vehicle more carefully, fault is often attributed to that driver, at least partially.
- The breach of the duty led to damages.
The last two requirements are often lumped together. The violation of the duty must have caused the accident and injuries. That is, if the damage was actually caused by something else, the driver could not be liable. The last requirement is that there must be measurable injuries or damages. These last two necessities are often considered together because you cannot consider cause without having damages.
In many states, including New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the fault can be shared between the at-fault driver and the injured individual. That means that even if you’re partially at fault, you may still be able to assert a legal claim.
Auto Accident Cases in No-Fault States
No-fault states like Massachusetts handle car accident claims very differently. The injured driver will file with their own insurance company for coverage after an accident, regardless of who caused the crash. There are, however, some situations where the other driver’s insurance company will be involved because the accident is very serious.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious accident, regardless of whether you live in a fault or no-fault state, contact Jim Glaser Law today at 781-689-2277 or fill out our online form to request a free case evaluation.