Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit–Causation

car hits manIn an earlier blog, we discussed the initial requirement of a personal injury lawsuit, that the injured party demonstrate that the defendant breached the duty to act as a reasonable person would. Once you’ve successfully shown that the defendant’s level of care was below that expected by a reasonable person, you must next show that the failure caused  an injury.

Causation Defined

Under the common law, there are two types of causation, both of which must be shown for a personal injury claim to succeed: actual cause and proximate cause.

Actual, or “but for” cause, is the simplest to show. To meet this burden, you need only show that, in the absence of the defendant’s breach of the duty of care, the accident would not have happened and the injury would not have been suffered. Actual cause can apply to direct losses—a person runs a red light and hits your car—the property damage to your car is a direct result of the breach. It can also, however, apply to indirect, or consequential, injuries. Suppose, in the accident above, the collision causes you to lose control of your car and careen into an ice cream store, causing loss of power and the ultimate loss of $10,000 worth of ice cream—running the red light was the actual cause.

But there’s another causal requirement before you can recover compensation—you must show proximate cause. Essentially, this requires that you show that the damages or losses suffered were reasonably foreseeable based on your negligence. That question is a question for the jury, so ultimately jurors will have to determine if there was proximate cause.

Even though you’ve established a breach of the standard of care, and met the causation requirements, you must still show that you suffered actual injury.

Contact the Lawyers at Shaffer & Gaier, L.L.C.

For a free initial consultation, send us an e-mail or call us in Philadelphia at 215-751-0100, or in New Jersey at 856-429-0970. You can also reach our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will travel to your home, if necessary, to meet with you.

Trucking Accident Yields Sizeable Settlement

Shaffer & Gaier was able to secure a sizeable settlement for a driver who was rear ended by a tractor trailer in NJ. Our client was traveling in NJ and was stopped in a traffic jam. The driver of an 18 wheel tractor trailer smashed into her vehicle causing her significant injuries. Although our client had neck and back injuries, her main complaint was to her hearing. Due to the deployment of her air bags, our client had constant ringing in her ears and hearing loss.

Shaffer & Gaier provided expert testimony that proved that the ringing in her ears was caused by the auto accident. As a result of this, Shaffer & Gaier secured a substantial settlement on her behalf.

10 Mistakes Drivers Make After a Car Accident

The best time to plan how to respond after a car accident is ahead of time, when you are calm. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you will be rattled and may have difficulty recalling the best steps to take to protect your legal rights. The following are 10 common mistakes drivers make – both immediately after a car accident and during the process of filing an accident claim with their car insurance companies.

  1. Refusing medical help at the scene of the accident
    The insurance company may later use your refusal as evidence that you were not injured as seriously as you later claim to be.
  2. Apologizing to the other driver, admitting fault, or claiming the accident was not your fault
    This one is hard for many drivers.  It is human nature to want to explain, apologize or defend oneself.  Remember, though, it is the insurance company’s responsibility to determine who was and who was not liable.  Even a simple statement like, “I’m sorry,” can be used as evidence that you admitted responsibility for the accident.
  3. Failing to file a police report
    A complete and accurate police report is a very useful piece of information during claim processing.
  4. Failing to document property damage and injuries
    Injuries will be documented via your medical records, but don’t forget to take lots of photographs of your vehicle to document the damage.
  5. Missing the deadline to file a claim with your insurance company
    All insurance companies have deadlines within which claims must be filed unless you have a very good reason to have missed the deadline.  Call your insurance company to double-check its deadline.
  6. Filling out the car insurance claim form wrong
    Be specific and detailed when you fill out the car insurance claim forms.  If you later realize you made a mistake, file an amendment as soon as possible.
  7. Demanding too much or too little compensation
    An over-the-top claim for compensation will not be well received by your insurance company.  A claim that understates damage to the vehicle and injuries will result in a claim settlement that does not fairly compensate you for actual losses.
  8. Accepting settlement before you know full extent of injuries
    If you need continuing medical treatment as a result of injuries sustained in the car accident, do not accept a settlement that is labeled in any way a “full and final” settlement.
  9. Making a recorded statement with your insurance company
    Your insurance company may tell you it needs a recorded statement before it can issue a settlement offer. This is not true. You may refuse to make a recorded statement, or you may make a recorded statement and state emphatically that your statement includes “information that you remember at the time and may not be complete.”
  10. Believing that the insurance company’s goal is fairness
    The insurance company is just that, a company.  Its goal is to offer a settlement that pays as little as possible while seeming to be fair.

The driver’s manuals of New Jersey and Pennsylvania contain additional suggestions for actions to take after a car accident:

Contact Shaffer & Gaier After a Serious Car Accident

Do you believe you are being treated unfairly by your car insurance company after a serious car accident?  To set up a free initial consultation with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys, contact our office online, call our Philadelphia office location at 215-751-0100, or call our New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.

Injured in a Car Accident While Working? It’s More Complicated Than You Think

On-the-job car accidents present unique legal issues.  What comes to mind as important actions to take following a car accident that happened while you were working?

  • Go to the doctor?  Absolutely.
  • Get receipts for your health care insurance company?  Yes.
  • Notify your private car insurance company?  Yes.

But did you consider the following:

  • Inform your employer you were hurt
  • File a workers’ compensation claim
  • Consult a personal injury attorney

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may need to file additional claims in order to achieve all the compensation you are entitled to.  You may have rights that are not covered by either your car insurance policy or workers’ compensation.  A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can explain all the benefits you may be entitled to and help you file necessary claims.

If the car accident was caused in whole or in part by an individual or company unassociated with your own employer, then workers’ compensation may not fully cover your lost wages and medical costs.  Your personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf and file a private lawsuit, if necessary, to obtain additional compensation from the third party who was involved in the accident.

Another reason to retain a personal injury attorney in the event of a workplace car accident is that multiple insurance companies are likely to become involved after the accident.  You may need to file claims with more than one insurance company, and you may receive a demand for reimbursement from one insurance company – you could even be served with a lawsuit yourself, demanding reimbursement or charging you with causing the car accident.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier

To set up a free initial consultation with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys regarding a workplace car accident, contact our office online or call our Philadelphia office location at 215-751-0100, or our New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.

Restatement Debate’s Impact on Automobile Cases

Article from The Legal Intelligencer by Michael Shaffer – June 2013 :

Restatement Debate’s Impact Article Reprint

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