Auto Accidents Newsletters
Tort law is the branch of the legal system that deals with cases in which an individual or other legally recognized entity, such as a corporation or governmental unit, seeks to recover damages from another person for a private injury or wrong not arising out of a contractual relationship. Tort actions are often based on the concept of negligence, which the law generally defines in such a context as the failure to meet the standard of care required to avoid subjecting another to unreasonable risk of injury. Under traditional tort law principles, if the plaintiff in such a case was found to have been guilty of what is called contributory negligence, which is generally defined as a failure to use due care that contributes to the plaintiff's own injury, the plaintiff would be barred from recovering any damages from the defendant. More recently, many courts have adopted a doctrine called comparative fault or comparative negligence in deciding such cases.
A typical hit-and-run accident is a collision between two vehicles, and one of them leaves the accident scene. However, there are other types of hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run accident may also involve chain reaction accidents, flying auto parts, auto debris on the road, and objects thrown or shot from other vehicles.
In order to succeed in a products liability action against the manufacturer or seller of a motor vehicle, a plaintiff has to show that the vehicle as sold contained a defect that created an unreasonable risk of death, personal injury, or property damage when used for its intended purpose and that the defect caused an accident or similar occurrence, such as a vehicle fire, that resulted in the loss for which the plaintiff seeks to recover damages. Automotive products liability cases may involve allegations that a car or truck was defective in some aspect of the way in which it was designed, in the manner in which its parts were manufactured and assembled into a complete vehicle, or due to a failure to warn the purchaser or user of the vehicle of some danger inherent in its use and operation. Cases involving the doctrine of crashworthiness (which is sometimes referred to as enhanced injury or second collision) constitute a subset of those cases in which it is alleged that a design defect in a vehicle was the cause of the injuries complained of.
An insurance company has a duty to fully investigate an insured's claim for benefits before denying it. A thorough investigation and fair evaluation of an insured's claim requires an insurance company to examine the insured's proof of loss statement and supporting documents. Further, the insurance company cannot ignore evidence that is available to it which supports the claim. That is, the insurance company cannot focus only on the facts that would justify its denial of the claim.
In an automobile accident action against a driver for damages suffered in a car collision, the driver's violation of a traffic law can be evidence of his or her negligence. The law calls negligence based upon the violation of a specific requirement of law "negligence per se." Negligence per se means that as a matter of law negligence existed. While the violation of a traffic law is negligence as a matter of law, the violation does not mean that the driver is liable unless the negligence was the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injury. Negligence is ordinarily a question for a jury. It only becomes a question of law when a court determines that only one conclusion can reasonably be drawn from the evidence. If the violation of the traffic law is treated as negligence per se, the question of negligence will not be given to the jury.