Car accidents are a frequent sight on Vermont roads. Multiple cars often sit on the side of the road waiting for a tow as an ambulance attends to injured passengers.

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you need an experienced attorney on your team. At Sabbeth Law, our Vermont car accident lawyer can immediately represent you in settlement negotiations, freeing you up to focus on what matters most: you and your family. Contact our firm today to learn more about how we can help.

Car Accident Injuries Can Upend Your Life

Car accidents are traumatic events. When two cars are going 40 miles per hour on a country road, they can generate terrific force when they collide. Even low-speed collisions in parking lots or at intersections can “jolt” a person’s body so badly that they are in pain for months.

Our legal team has helped people suffering from some of the most serious injuries imaginable:

  • Burns
  • Broken bones
  • Cuts or abrasions
  • Pinched nerves
  • Neck injuries, including whiplash
  • Back injuries, including herniated discs
  • Sprains or strains
  • Chest contusions
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Amputations

Even someone who can walk away from an accident could, over the ensuing two or three days, begin to feel their condition steadily worsen. This is not surprising. Many car accident injuries are slow to manifest, but they can cause disabling pain and possibly permanent disability if not treated promptly.

Why Experience Matters

Your choice of attorney will make a big difference when it comes to negotiating a settlement. Under Vermont law, the driver at fault for the accident needs to pay compensation to cover a victim’s medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain. Unfortunately, negotiating with an insurance adjuster is often a headache.

Our legal team is familiar with many of the “delay, deny, and dispute” tactics used by Vermont’s largest insurers. They often drag their heels to put pressure on a victim to settle quickly—and often for far less than they deserve. We can submit all claims forms, answer an insurance adjuster’s question, and properly value your claim. Then we put our experience to work for you by negotiating with your best interest always in mind.

Vermont Laws Related to Car Accidents

Many laws will impact your claim. The right attorney should understand each law inside and out and use them to your advantage when seeking compensation:

Comparative negligence. If both motorists were negligent, then this will impact whether you can sue and the amount of compensation you receive. Specifically, if you were 51% to blame or more, then you can’t sue, according to 12 V.S.A. § 1036. Even if you were 50% or less, then the total compensation you receive is reduced proportionally by your degree of fault.

Statute of limitations. Vermont limits the amount of time a victim has to file a lawsuit in court. Under 12 V.S.A. § 512, the maximum amount of time is three years. Even worse, if we lose a loved one due to the negligence of another, Vermont only allows the Estate two years to bring a wrongful death action under its Wrongful Death statute, 14 V.S.A § 1492. Miss these deadlines and a judge will permanently bar you from suing in the future. And if you go over this deadline, an insurer has little incentive to offer a generous settlement because they know you can’t go into court and seek more.

You should always wear a seatbelt. The truth is, we’ve seen terrible results from crashes where our clients were not wearing a seatbelt. However, if you were not wearing a seatbelt when you were injured in a car crash by someone else’s negligence, the defendant cannot bring that into evidence.  23 V.S.A § 1259(c) states that failure to wear a seatbelt under the law “shall not be admissible as evidence in any civil proceeding,” such as a personal injury action. The reason for this is that the defendant caused the car crash, and you shouldn’t be penalized for an incident created by a reckless driver. 

Car Accidents & Insurance

Most car accident claims are paid with the at-fault driver’s insurance. Vermont’s requires drivers to carry a minimum insurance policy of 25/50/10 insurance. That means that when someone is injured due to the negligence of another driver, the victim can only receive $25,000 for their bodily injuries. If multiple people are injured, then a maximum of $50,000 gets split between them. And a measly $10,000 is available for property damage.

What happens if you have losses which exceed this amount? Remember, someone suffering bodily injuries is entitled to compensation for:

  • Past, present, and future medical care
  • Past, present, and future lost wages or income
  • Pains, suffering, and other intangible losses
  • Property damage, such as damage to your car

One victim suffering from a concussion and multiple fractures could have losses exceeding $50,000 all by themselves. If so, they need to look elsewhere for compensation. At Sabbeth Law, we can check whether you have medical payments coverage, which could cover care.

So, what do you do when you’re injured by an underinsured or uninsured driver?  That brings us right to our next topic.

Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers

What happens if, like above, an “underinsured” driver crashed into you and causes injuries?  An underinsured driver is someone who causes a car accident and injury with losses greater than their insurance covers.  Like in the above example where the negligent driver has $25,000, let’s say your damages are determined to be $100,000.00.  If you have $100,000.00 or more in underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance would pay the extra $75,000.00 you are rightfully due.

What happens if a negligent driver crashes into you and causes you injuries?  Taking the above example, your uninsured motorist vehicle coverage would pay out the entirety of the $100,000.  

3 Common Mistakes Accident Victims Make

To increase your odds of a favorable result, remember to avoid these common errors following a wreck:

  • Mistake #1: You accidentally “admit” fault when you’re not actually at fault. For example, any statement you make, such as “I’m sorry for hitting you,” which, as a caring human being you might say if someone cut in front of you and caused the car accident, could be used by the at-fault party to try to blame you for the accident later on. Instead of apologizing or getting into a long chat with the other driver, call the police to the scene of the accident and wait patiently in your car.
  • Mistake #2: You don’t take pictures of the vehicles. You want to establish with near certainty the amount of damage the collision caused. Taking photos at the scene can accomplish this.
  • Mistake #3: You give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. Often, they are looking for any information they can use to build a case against you. They will often ask absurd questions and try to frustrate you while you’re already stressed from the fallout of the crash.  This can lead to statements that could later be used against you.  

Contact Our Rutland Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation

After a car wreck, it might feel as if your world has been turned upside down. Many of our clients have well-founded fears that they won’t financially survive a car accident, to say nothing of the ongoing struggle with physical limitations. To better understand your legal options, please call us to schedule a consultation with us today.