Whether you live in Vermont or New Hampshire, chances are high that you drive on a daily basis.
In fact, most American families own at least one car, if not more, which are used regularly to get to and from work, go grocery shopping, run errands, and recreate.
But while motor vehicles can be important tools that offer plenty of convenience and comfort, automobiles are also incredibly dangerous. In fact, the average passenger car weighs at least 4,000 pounds – when moving at any speed, especially a high speed, the amount of force involved in a crash can be significant, leading to serious injuries and deaths of occupants. To be sure, dozens of people are killed in car crashes in the state of Vermont every year, and even more are injured.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident in our state, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries and damages. Our experienced car accident lawyers can help you to understand your rights if injured in a car accident, compensation available to you, and how to initiate a claim. Call the office of Sabbeth Law today to get started.
Fault Laws in Vermont
Vermont is an at-fault car insurance state. In a nutshell, this means that drivers who cause accidents are responsible for paying for them, typically through their liability insurance policy, which is required in the state of Vermont When a motor vehicle occupant, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian is injured by the fault of another driver, they maintain the right to bring a claim against their own insurance company (i.e. collision or uninsured motorist coverage), file a claim against the at-fault driver’s coverage, or file a lawsuit for damages directly against the at-fault party.
The state of Vermont also recognizes the rule of modified comparative negligence. This means that even if you are partially at fault for a car accident, you can still recover compensation. However, you will be barred from compensation if you were more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If you were less than 50 percent but more than one percent at fault, your damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages but are determined to be 15 percent at fault, you would only be able to recover 85 percent of your award, or $85,000.
Proving the Negligence of the Responsible Party
Because recovering compensation is based on the fault of a party other than yourself, it is important that you understand how to prove the negligence of the responsible party. Negligence, or the failure to exercise the degree of care required in a given situation, is the crux of a car accident claim.
Our lawyers are highly skilled in proving fault and negligence in order to hold a responsible party liable for car accident victim’s harm. In order to do this, gathering myriad types of evidence is required. Types of evidence that can be used to establish liability include:
- Eyewitnesses’ testimonies;
- Police reports;
- Traffic cam or other video footage of the accident;
- Skid marks;
- Physical damage to traffic signs, surrounding objects, and vehicles;
- Angle of vehicles upon impact;
- Drivers’ statements;
- Weather conditions at the time of accident;
- Vehicle event data record evidence; and
In addition to the above, the opinions of experts may also be used to establish fault. Vehicle design and part experts, forensic specialists, and accident reconstruction experts can all lend credence to a claim that the other party was at fault.
Types of Compensation You Can Recover after a Car Accident
Our lawyers want to ensure you recover the full amount of compensation to which you’re entitled after a crash. We know how devastating a car accident can be. The serious effects that it can have on your family, ability to work, mental health, and more. We will work hard on your behalf to help you recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses. One of the biggest expenses after a car accident will surely be in the form of medical bills. Indeed, even if you have health insurance, you may be facing thousands of dollars in deductibles and care costs that aren’t covered under your health insurance policy. You deserve to be compensated for 100 percent of your medical expenses and all future costs related to your healthcare. Future costs include at-home costs, medications, medical equipment, and more.
- Lost wages and benefits. If you are seriously injured in a car crash, these injuries will likely prevent you from working. This means lost wages and lost benefits. This is especially true if you’re unable to return to work or work as efficiently as before the accident long-term. Our team can calculate the value of your lost wages and benefits. We will also aggressively advocate for your right to recover these damages.
- Property damage expenses. If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you can be sure that your vehicle took a beating, too. These expenses should not be something that you’re responsible for paying for out-of-pocket.
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress. While lost wages and benefits, property damage expenses, and medical expenses are all types of economic damages that require straightforward calculation, damages for noneconomic losses, like pain and suffering, can be more difficult to assign value to. Nonetheless, you deserve to be compensated for all of your noneconomic losses as well as your economic ones.
Steps to Take to Preserve Your Right to Compensation
The damages types listed above are the potential types of damages that you can seek in a car accident claim; however, there is no guarantee that you’ll be paid all of these damages, nor the full value of these damages. In fact, there are many factors that affect the outcome of a car accident settlement, including fault, evidence, degree of damages, and the insurance policies and policy limits available. That being said, you can take certain steps from the get-go that are designed to preserve your right to compensation and improve your chances of you recovering the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. These steps include:
- Report your accident to the police. You should always report an accident to the police. Especially when anyone involved in the accident has suffered injuries. If you do not report the accident, your insurer may doubt the validity of your claim. This is because there is no official record of the accident.
- Report your accident to your insurer. Your insurer has the right to be informed of your accident as soon as possible; this provides the insurer with plenty of time to investigate your crash. If you fail to provide notification to your insurer, your claim for damages could be denied.
- Get the other driver’s information. Getting the other driver’s information at the scene of the accident is crucial. It will be necessary in order to file a claim against the driver’s insurer.
- Collect evidence at the scene. If your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, you should also gather as much evidence at the accident scene as possible. Evidence includes witnesses’ names and contact information, pictures of the accident and damages, details about the weather, and anything else that is relevant. The more evidence you have, the stronger your claim will be.
- Seek medical care. Seeking medical care within 24 hours of your accident, if not immediately following a car crash, is a necessity. If you fail to seek medical care and then later file a claim for injuries, the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim will likely doubt that the injuries stemmed from the crash – after all, why would you wait so long to seek medical care if the car accident is what caused you harm?
- Be prepared for what comes next. You should also prepare yourself for the next steps, including giving a statement to an insurance adjuster, getting repairs to your vehicle, and reviewing a settlement offer. Here are two major pieces of advice that you should follow. Never admit fault and never accept a first settlement offer.
Do I Need to File a Lawsuit?
Most car accident claims are settled through negotiations, and therefore litigation is rarely necessary. However, our lawyers do have trial experience and will be prepared to file a lawsuit on your behalf if a fair settlement that adequately compensates you cannot be reached out of court.
Our Attorneys Can Help You With Your Car Accident Compensation Claim
Working with a qualified attorney who knows how to investigate your case and prove fault, who has the resources required to hire experts and devote hours of attention to your claim, and who has experience negotiating with insurance adjusters and litigating car accident suits can make a significant difference in the settlement offer you receive and ultimately accept.
To schedule a free consultation with the Vermont and New Hampshire car accident lawyers at the office of Sabbeth Law, please call our firm directly today or send us a message. We can start working on your case immediately.