Understanding the types of car accidents offers a clue into fault and liability after a crash. In many cases, knowing what each driver was doing before the vehicles crashed and how they collided provides key information for the victim to hold the at-fault driver liable.
In addition, some types of collision cases work differently than others. For example, identifying the liable party in a truck accident might differ from a crash between two passenger cars.
Navigating this process on your own can be frustrating and complicated. Analyzing the details of your accident is the job of car accident lawyers. Working with a Vero Beach car accident lawyer will help you understand your legal options.
An experienced accident and injury attorney can act to recover compensation on your behalf, protect your rights and handle all aspects of your case. Most law firms offer free consultations to assess your case and discuss your next steps.
What Are Some Common Types of Auto Accidents?
While accidents occur in many ways, and each one is unique in its circumstances and details, vehicles can collide in only a few ways. The type of crash often tells a lot about what happened and who is at fault. Some of the most common types of crashes include:
Rear-end collisions are the most common type of crash. One vehicle hits the rear of another, often because the front car has stopped at a red light, stop sign, or traffic jam. The rear driver is almost always at fault in these collisions. Some states even pass laws that recognize this with few exceptions.
Drivers must leave enough space between them and other vehicles to stop quickly when necessary. When they fail to do so, rear-end crashes could result. Some laws require motorists to pay careful attention to the traffic in front of them and limit distractions. Distracted, drunk, or drowsy driving contribute to these crashes, as could speeding or aggressive driving.
Usually, rear-end crashes are among the easiest to investigate and identify the liable party. While there are exceptions, they are rare. Law enforcement usually cites or otherwise documents the rear motorist.
Head-on collisions are not as common as other types of crashes, but they are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries or deaths than rear-end accidents or other collisions. These accidents amplify the forces involved when two cars moving toward one another collide.
Generally, there is no reason why two cars should be traveling toward one another in the same lane. However, this does not prevent it from happening.
Head-on collisions could occur when:
- One driver crosses the centerline and hits another.
- A driver goes the wrong way on a one-way street.
- A driver crosses the median on a divided highway.
- Going the wrong way on an entrance or exit ramp.
Side-impact crashes, also known as T-bone collisions, often occur at intersections. One driver fails to yield when turning, runs a red light, or ignores a stop sign, and two vehicles collide in the intersection. One strikes the side of the other, forming a T shape.
T-bone collisions can be especially dangerous for those in the vehicle hit broadside. The sides of passenger cars lack the crush zones and other protection offered in the vehicle’s front and rear, especially around the doors. During a side-impact crash, victims near the collision point frequently suffer catastrophic injuries.
These crashes often rely on eyewitness or video evidence to determine which driver had the right of way and who acted negligently, causing the crash. They sometimes occur at accelerated speeds and as lights change. This could make it difficult to show exactly what occurred unless convincing evidence documents it.
Rollover crashes occur when a vehicle flips onto its side, top, or completely over. They could cause ejection or serious injuries because safety features such as seatbelts and airbags generally do not protect against the force in an upside-down vehicle.
Rollover accidents can involve a single vehicle or multiple vehicles.
Some reasons why rollovers might occur include:
- Taking a curve too fast
- Running off the road
- Dodging lost cargo
- Avoiding a collision with another car
Under some circumstances, you could have a case against a negligent driver even if their vehicle never struck yours. A car accident lawyer can help you gather evidence for your claim.
Not All Accident Cases Work the Same
Sometimes, a crash occurs, and the resulting case does not work in the same way as most. Usually, the at-fault driver causes the accident, and you build a case to hold them accountable.
Using legal terminology, they bear liability for your injuries, expenses, and losses. You file a claim against their insurance company, and you sue that driver in court if necessary.
Not all accident cases work this way. Some that deviate from this include:
Is Florida a No-Fault Accident State?
While some states use fault-based systems for traffic accidents, Florida is a no-fault state and requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) policies. This is also referred to as no-fault auto insurance. These policies pay for the policyholder’s medical care and a portion of lost income up to the policy limits. There are exceptions allowing victims to pursue fault-based damages. Your lawyer can advise you if you meet the necessary threshold.
Truck accidents and crashes involving other commercial vehicles often involve vicarious liability. Because of a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior, employers are often vicariously liable for their workers’ negligent acts. Truck accidents usually occur because the trucker makes a careless or reckless mistake behind the wheel. In this case, the trucking company might be liable.
Attorneys often file claims against or sue trucking companies in these cases because they usually have large corporate liability policies. The policies are large enough to cover the serious or catastrophic injuries commonly suffered in these collisions.
Like truck accidents, bus accidents could involve vicarious liability. However, many municipalities, counties, and other government agencies operate bus fleets. When a bus accident case goes against a government agency, special rules often apply. For example, there are sometimes extremely short deadlines for filing a notice. You should contact a law firm as soon as possible if you or a loved one suffered injuries in this type of collision.
Rideshare accidents do not typically involve vicarious liability. Drivers are independent contractors, not employees. However, these cases are still complex. Rideshare companies provide liability insurance for victims hurt in collisions their drivers cause, but this coverage varies based on what the driver was doing when the crash occurred. A lawyer familiar with these cases can identify the correct insurance policy and file your claims.
Who Is Liable for My Traffic Accident?
Identifying who is liable for your traffic accident requires investigating what happened and analyzing the evidence. You must show the negligence that caused the crash.
Doing so requires you to document:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
Each of these is present in every crash, regardless of the type of accident.
For example, in a rear-end crash, they could include:
- Duty of care: The driver had a duty of care created by traffic laws that required them to remain at a safe distance from traffic when approaching a stop sign.
- Breach of duty: The driver failed to do so, colliding with the car in front of them.
- Causation: Their failure to stop was the proximate cause of the crash.
- Harm: The victim suffered whiplash and a broken arm, in addition to several expenses and losses.
Types of Evidence to Show Fault and Liability
You must gather evidence to build a case that shows negligence. If you work with an attorney, they can handle this process for you.
The evidence in these cases differs but could include:
- The crash report filed by responding police officers
- Relevant medical records
- Photos from the scene
- Video of the crash
- Eyewitness statements
- Accident scene surveys
- Accident reconstruction
- Expert testimony
- Documentation of damages
Once you have the available evidence, you must use it to create a compelling explanation of what occurred and how the at-fault driver caused your car accident. This case supports your insurance claim or is presented to the jury in court. You must have the right evidence. Working with an attorney could make this process easier and more effective.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help With My Case?
When a crash victim hires a car accident lawyer, the law firm represents their best interests and fights for fair compensation on their behalf. Most lawyers handle all aspects of these cases, letting the client focus solely on their physical recovery. Those with serious injuries likely face months or years of therapy and rehabilitation.
From their first day, a lawyer protects the rights of their clients. They include handling all communication with the insurer and meeting all applicable deadlines. They know how insurers work to reduce the payout of a crash victim and fight these tactics.
What Are My Legal Options After a Crash?
Some states require crash victims to first turn to a mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault insurance policy for injuries. However, most states allow victims to pursue fault-based cases regardless of the severity of their injuries.
In other words, you have two options to recover compensation after a crash in most states:
- File an insurance claim based on the liable party’s policy
- File a civil lawsuit
Many attorneys use these two approaches concurrently, ensuring they have the option of going to trial if the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation. Most cases, however, end with a settlement. The insurance company agrees to pay a fair amount based on the crash facts. Only occasionally do cases need to go to trial and let a jury decide.
Deadlines apply for suing an at-fault driver or another liable party. However, these deadlines vary from state to state. Many states only offer one or two years after a crash to sue, whereas others may give up to four years.
What Are Some Recoverable Damages in Car Accident Cases?
The recoverable damages in a car accident case are the same regardless of how the case proceeds. Victims pursue a wide range of expenses and losses based on their bills, receipts, estimates, and other documentation.
They could include:
- Pain and suffering damages
- Medical bills to date
- Future and ongoing care expenses
- Income losses from time missed at work
- Diminished earning ability if there are lasting injuries
- Property damages, such as replacing a totaled car
- Related miscellaneous expenses (receipts required)
Not all crash victims survive their injuries. Most car accident lawyers also represent families whose loved ones died from their injuries. Wrongful death laws and recoverable damages differ widely from state to state.
Contact a Vero Beach Car Accident Lawyer Near You
Regardless of the type of car accident that caused your injuries, when you consult a car accident attorney, you can learn about your options. The attorney can explain how you can hold the at-fault driver or another liable party responsible and recover compensation, which is the best way to get justice in a crash case. A lawyer knows how to build a strong claim and hold the negligent party accountable.
Most personal injury law firms provide free initial case reviews when you contact their office. Some even provide a means to contact them online. Additionally, many handle cases without charging upfront fees. Their attorney fees generally come as a portion of the compensation they recover for you in your case. They only get paid if they secure compensation for you.