While all car accidents come with their own unique circumstances, they typically do not involve another’s property. When they do, they bring in an array of complications for the property owner, the involved drivers, and especially the injured parties. Common questions may include: Whose insurance company pays for injuries and other damages? What are the legal repercussions for the driver? Who will pay for the damages to the property?
In August, for example, a vehicle crashed into a Myrtle Beach candy store. Thankfully, no one was killed, but the victims did not walk away unscathed. In this blog, we will look at the complexities of cases like this to help you better understand questions of liability and injury claims when an auto accident occurs on another’s property.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN, LEGALLY, IF THE DRIVER IS AT FAULT?
Any time a person seriously endangers the life or well being of another, there is a chance for criminal charges. However, whether a driver in this situation faces criminal charges will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Were they grossly negligent? Were they on drugs? Results of the incident may also influence whether criminal charges are brought to the driver.
That said, whether they face charges or not, a personal injury case is a civil case and not a criminal case. Therefore, the only punishments the driver would receive from a personal injury court, if the driver is found at fault for the injuries, are punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to the plaintiff as a punishment for the defendant’s negligent actions that led to the incident.
THE DRIVER IS NOT ALWAYS TO BLAME
On the surface, the question of fault in this accident appears relatively easy. After all, the vehicle collided with the store – therefore the driver is at fault, right? Well, not necessarily. Was another driver involved? Perhaps there is video evidence from a traffic cam that suggests the crashing vehicle was pushed off-road by a negligent driver upon merging or changing lanes.
It is also possible that the driver’s vehicle malfunctioned due to faulty electronics or parts, causing the crash and consequently hurting the victims. In that case, the manufacturer or designer of the vehicle may be held liable for the damages.
Other details that complicate fault in such occurrences may involve alcohol, street signage, parking lot design, and even structural weaknesses in the building. Did the store owner have their lights on? How is the structural integrity of the building? It may be surprising, but property owners, engineers, or architects may be held liable if courts find that the property, in some way, was not sufficiently built to prevent disasters. It is rare, but not impossible.
WHAT HAPPENS IF SEVERAL PEOPLE ARE AT FAULT FOR THE ACCIDENT?
It is not uncommon in a car accident, and even a premises liability case, for more than one party to be responsible for an incident. Florida is a pure comparative negligence state in which partial fault deduces compensation by the percentage of fault.
In other words, if the driver who crashed into the candy store is found 70% at fault for the accident, they can still seek up to 30% of the maximum compensation possible. So, the more at fault an individual is in an accident, the less compensation they may claim. If the maximum amount possible is $100,000, they may pursue $30,000, and so on.
WHERE DO THE INJURED PARTIES GO TO SEEK COMPENSATION FOR LOSSES?
Liability for any given injury claim can be complicated and can be made more complicated by insurance companies attempting to pass the buck. Personal injury lawyers who represent victims of accidents like these are adept at seeking the most possible for an insurance claim on behalf of their clients. And, if necessary, many will take the claim to court.
If awarded, compensation should cover expenses and losses related to the accident injuries. You may obtain compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including billing for x-rays, scans, physical therapy, and more
- Lost wages from missing work time
- Pain and suffering, including emotional and psychological suffering
It is imperative that victims injured in these complex cases do not accept the initial amount offered by an insurance company without first speaking to a personal injury attorney.
FLORIDA AUTO ACCIDENT AND PREMISES LIABILITY LAWYER READY TO SERVE YOU
At Aigen Law Firm, we provide extensive personal injury representation to victims of premises liability accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and numerous other incidents and injuries. Founder and attorney, Scott Aigen, Esq., has over a decade of experience working in and out of the courtroom as a Miami personal injury attorney. If you have recently been injured in a serious accident, contact our office to better understand your legal options as you pursue compensation for your losses.