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Car Accidents and Lawyers: Important Rights Drivers Should Know

Not many things beat the feeling you get as a driver behind the wheel of a car. Whether you are a professional racecar driver, are running errands, or are simply taking a leisurely drive to clear your head, the odds are that driving a car is a part of your day-to-day activities.

The fact remains, however, that driving a car is inherently dangerous. Despite the capabilities of the individual driver and modern advancements in automobile safety measures, car accidents cannot always be avoided. In some scenarios, depending on the severity of your injuries after an accident, it may even become necessary to hire a Tampa car accident lawyer to help you recover.

Regardless of your situation, there are some things that you as a driver should be aware of to better protect yourself and other drivers. This article will discuss some important car accident statistics and rights that every driver on the road should know.

Car Accident Statistics

On average, there are roughly 6 million car accidents in the United States every year. In the course of those 6 million accidents, around 3 million people in the United States sustain injuries, 2 million of which sustain permanent injuries. Further, according to the CDC, car accidents result in more than 32.000 deaths each year.

There are a wide variety of causes that lead to car accidents in the United States. According to the World Health Organization, some of the leading contributors include:

- Speeding,

- Driving under the influence,

- Nonuse of seatbelts,

- Distracted driving,

- Unsafe road infrastructure, and

- Unsafe vehicles.

Sometimes, you may be able to prevent a car accident by taking precautionary measures as a driver. Other times, however, you may not be able to do so. Factors such as unsafe road infrastructure and conditions, unsafe vehicles, and the error of other drivers on the road are often outside your control.

Some of the most common injuries that are sustained in car accidents nationwide include:

- Head injuries,

- Chest injuries,

- Injuries to limbs,

- Whiplash and other soft tissue injuries, and

- Lacerations.

If you or a loved one has sustained any of the above injuries in a car accident, you may have legal rights to recover compensation for your injuries.

What Rights Do I Have If I Am Involved in a Car Accident?

If you are involved in a car accident, you may be wondering what you need to do next. Often, the injuries you sustain in a car accident will cause you to incur substantial monetary expenses. In 2012, the CDC estimated that the average crash-related emergency department visit costs roughly $3.300, and frequently, this cost can be much higher.

Thus, if you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to know what rights you have to recover compensation. In general, a car accident victim may be entitled to recover economic damages and non-economic damages. Additionally, in some scenarios, a victim may also be able to recover punitive damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the monetary expenses you may be entitled to recover in connection with your tangible damages. Examples of economic damages you might receive in a car accident case include:

- Past and future medical expenses,

- Property damage,

- Lost wages,

- Loss of earning capacity, and

- Any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of your accident.

Depending on the amount of damages incurred and who was at fault, you may be able to recover these damages from the opposing party’s insurer. However, where fault is unclear or the extent of economic losses exceeds the policy limit, it may become necessary to seek other avenues of recovery.

Non-Economic Damages

In addition to economic damages, you may also have a right to recover non-economic damages. Both economic and non-economic damages are considered “compensatory” damages, which means that they are designed to make the accident victim “whole.”

However, non-economic damages differ from economic damages in that they help compensate an individual for their emotional, less tangible injuries. Examples of recoverable non-economic damages in a car accident case include:

- Pain and suffering,

- Emotional trauma,

- Loss of enjoyment of life,

- Disfigurement, and

- Loss of consortium.

It is crucial to have an understanding of the full spectrum of your rights to recovery as a driver of a motor vehicle. While economic damages are important to physical recovery, being able to recover from your emotional injuries is just as necessary.

Punitive Damages

In more rare circumstances, you may also have a legal right to recover punitive damages. Whereas compensatory damages are designed to make an accident victim “whole” and allow them to recover from their injuries, the purpose of punitive damages is to punish particularly wrongful conduct. The idea is that these punitive damages will help to deter future wrongful conduct. For this reason, punitive damages are more difficult to recover.

Despite the difficulty in proving and recovering punitive damages, it is still important to know that they exist. In general, if another party’s willful, malicious, fraudulent, or reckless conduct caused the accident that resulted in your injuries, you may be able to recover punitive damages.

How a Lawyer Can Help If You Are Involved in a Car Accident

When you get behind the wheel of a car, there is always a chance that an accident may occur. If you are injured in a car accident, a lawyer can be a great asset.

A lawyer can help you gather helpful evidence to support your claim, identify and calculate your recoverable damages, and communicate with opposing parties and insurance companies who will inevitably try to keep you from getting what you may be entitled to. In short, a lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you need to recover.

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