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What should I do if I'm involved in an accident?← Back to Questions
June 25, 2011, 11:54 am
If someone else is more at fault for your injury than you are, you may make a claim against that person or business and their insurance company, if any. The type of accident and the cause of the accident may affect whether you are entitled to compensation, as in the following examples:
Motor vehicle accidents:
Fault or “negligence” is determined by traffic regulations and which driver’s carelessness contributed most to the accident and injuries, including your own conduct such as failure to use seatbelts.
Commercial accidents (such as in stores):
Injuries are compensable only if caused by an unsafe condition that the owner should have known of, appreciated, and corrected before the accident.
Renters, owners, or residents may be found liable for injuries they cause by negligent maintenance, oversight, or attacks by pets; however, property owners who permit others to use their land without charge for recreational purposes may be completely immune to any claim for unsafe conditions, however flagrant.
Government employees and premises:
Injuries caused by negligent public employees or unsafe conditions will be compensated only in limited circumstances and are subject to stringent notice and claim requirements. State, federal, and local governments are given broad latitude to determine most matters involving public safety, including the design and maintenance of roads, parks, and facilities.
Injuries at work generally are covered by worker’s compensation benefits which compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent impairments, without regard to fault by anyone. If the accident was caused by someone other than the employer or a co-worker, a fault-based claim can be made that could include damages for pain and suffering in addition to the worker’s compensation benefits.
Injuries inflicted on purpose by any means are not usually covered by the guilty party’s liability insurance, although the responsible party may be personally liable for such harm.
More complicated rules determine if injuries caused by dangerous products, the accumulation of ice or snow, faulty professional services, or public utilities will be compensated. In addition, users of firearms, dog owners, and operators of restaurants, hotels, and public transportation may be liable for injuries they cause because the law imposes special responsibility for these hazards which your attorney can explain in more detail.
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