Oak Park Car Accident Lawyer
Oak Park is a tiny community, which is why you love it so much. But it’s still part of the Southern California sprawl, which means you still have that legendary (and sometimes awful) traffic. Although Oak Park has a small town feel, you still have to drive to get just about anywhere. Just making it to work in the morning sometimes takes an hour or so, although you don’t really work that far away. But on a bad day—such as when someone decides to send a text message, causes an accident, and derails the plans of thousands of people—it can be downright maddening.
Fortunately you have the right to seek monetary compensation when another party’s negligence or recklessness causes injury. But the law can be quite complicated, so it’s always in your best interests to work with an experienced Oak Park Car Accident lawyer at Walch Law before filing a claim. Robert and Gary are local and available to take your case now—call them today! The following is a primer on how fault (or liability) is determined in a car accident, the meaning of negligence, and calculating damages for your injuries.Who’s at Fault for Your Oak Park Car Accident?
While there may be some rare cases where someone intentionally causes an accident or injury to another, those are exceedingly rare. Most car accidents are the result of carelessness, which is called negligence in legal terms. The term reckless is similar to negligence but generally applies to situations where the at-fault party was acting in a way that they should have known could cause injury, such as driving 20 mph over the speed limit.
While negligence is the most common, there are four ways one or more parties may be liable for a car accident:
- Negligence (general carelessness)
- Recklessness (the person knew or should have known their actions could injure others)
- Intent (they intended to cause harm)
- Strict liability (a party is responsible for injuries regardless of intent or carelessness, such as automobile manufacturers)
Driving is inherently dangerous, or at least prone to accidents, since it’s so common and not everyone is equally skilled or even fully paying attention when they’re behind the wheel. All it takes is one tiny moment of negligence for a serious accident to occur, which is why California law requires motorists to carry a certain base amount of liability insurance. To be negligent is to owe another party a duty of care, or a legal responsibility to act in a manner consistent with that of a reasonable person. When a failure (or breach) of this duty causes injury, the injured party may file a claim.
In most cases, your claim will never go to court but will instead be settled among the parties involved. However, it’s important to approach your claim as if it could go to trial, since you (and your Oak Park car accident lawyer) will want to have leverage when negotiating a settlement.
The legal elements required for a negligence claim are:
- Defendant (at-fault driver) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (injured party)
- Defendant breached that duty
- Plaintiff’s injuries were in fact caused by this breach
- Defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury(ies), which means the plaintiff wouldn’t have suffered those injuries if not for the defendant’s breach
- Plaintiff has suffered actual damages, such as bodily injury and lost wages
Damages for your losses typically include the obvious things such as medical bills and lost wages, but injuries can impact so many facets of your life and often result in losses you may not have considered on your own. That’s why it’s so important to consult with an attorney before filing your claim. For one thing, some injuries don’t appear right away or may be misdiagnosed at first. Also, injuries don’t always heal properly and can have lasting effects that diminish certain life activities.
Your attorney can help you determine the right damages to claim for your injury, but they may include the following (this is not a complete list):
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Diminished future earning potential
- Loss of consortium (intimacy and affection)
Car accidents are always at least a hassle but sometimes they can alter your life in dramatic ways. When another party is at fault, you owe it to yourself to seek full compensation for your losses. The seasoned legal pros at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, a Law Corporation can help you file your claim and get your life back together as best as possible.