IN THE NEWS: $4.9M AUTO ACCIDENT SETTLEMENT TEACHES MANY LESSONS
The mother of a young man killed in an auto accident in Brush Creek Township, Pennsylvania was just awarded a $4.9 million settlement. The accident illustrates several important points about auto accident personal injury which we believe are important for our Ramey & Hailey blog readers to understand….
- Of the 5,000,000 (yes, millions!) car crashes in the United States each year, more than half are caused by aggressive drivers, resulting in more than 40,000 fatalities and over 4,500,000 serious injuries. As is true in the Brush Creek incident, many of those hurt or killed are occupants of vehicles rather than the drivers.
- In the Brush Creek incident, it was the mother of a passenger who received the settlement money. In a wrongful death lawsuit, family members (sometimes an executor of the deceased’s estate) are suing for money damages from a party whose negligence led to the death of their loved one. The defendants in this case were the owner of the car and its driver.
- When a car accident settlement is awarded, the money typically comes from the defendant’s insurance company. In fact, after you have been in an accident in which you were not at fault, an insurance company is going to be offering you a settlement, but once you’ve accepted that settlement, you’ve given up your right to sue. As an injured party, you will have become the adversary of the insurance company (even if it’s your own insurance company!). In this Brush Creek accident, the injury was not the fault of a driver of another vehicle, but the fault of the driver of the vehicle in which the victim was a passenger.
- One of the most important tasks our attorneys at Ramey & Hailey perform following the accident is gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to help prepare your personal injury case. In the Brush Creek accident, the driver of the car tried to pass a tractor trailer at a high speed during a rain storm. He lost control of the vehicle, which then flipped over and spun into a rock wall. The driver of the tractor trailer witnessed the accident.
- Since at Ramey & Hailey we work extensively on accidents resulting in catastrophic or permanent loss involving driver and equipment error, we can tell you that few auto accident injury cases make it all the way to trial. This Brush Creek case is a good example of the defense offering to settle, thus negating the need for a trial.
- Traffic laws are different in different states. Both Pennsylvania and Indiana are “modified comparative negligence” states. That means that you can recover damages from another party, but those will be reduced by a percentage that corresponds to your own share of fault. (If your share of fault for the accident exceeds 50%, you won’t be able to recover anything at all.) In the Brush Creek accident, the son that died was a passenger, and no fault was attributed to him at all.
When traffic accident injuries happen, insurance can help compensate for your loss, but when that simply isn’t enough, Ramey & Hailey is there to see you get the recovery you deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in or by a vehicle, we can help make your voice heard.