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ACCIDENTS AND THE LAW
Accidents do not happen on purpose. They occur because a person is careless or not paying attention to what they are doing. Examples of this might be a car driver busy texting and not seeing a stop sign. It could be a waitress pouring hot coffee, who looks away at another table as she is pouring and accidently overfills the customer’s coffee cup, spilling hot coffee on to their hand or lap.
Sometimes it’s our own fault that causes the problem. Imagine a young boy running across a playground who runs into a water fountain because he was too busy looking for his friends to see where he was going.
Collecting Monetary Damages in Court
If you are hurt in an accident that is not your fault, you may take the person who accidently injured you to court and collect money damages. The courts refer to these cases as suits for Personal Injury or Negligence. To win a case and collect money, you must show the following four elements:
- The person you are suing must have been required to act in a careful manner. In instances where people interact with each other, either as a matter of business or in a social setting, the courts almost always find there is a duty to act carefully. That is why a car driver is required to drive carefully and not injure any of his fellow drivers, and a waitress is required to pour the hot coffee in a careful manner.
- The person you are suing must have failed to act carefully. An example of this might be a driver failing to stop at a red light who then hits your car. The courts sometimes refer to this as breaching the duty of due care. Breaching the duty of due care is just another way of saying failing to act carefully.
- The person’s carelessness must be the cause of the damages or injury. If for example, the accident victim is treated by a physician who makes him worse, then it could be argued that the careless driver being sued is only responsible for those injuries caused by the actual car crash, and the victim should sue the doctor separately for all his other problems.
Damages or injury may take many different forms:
- property damage such as to a car’s fender or bumper
- damages to clothing, eyeglasses or wrist watch
- inability to work and earn money
- loss of a limb or life
- pain and suffering as a result of the accident and even future pain and suffering.
Also included are other items typically found to be associated with personal injury cases such as medical expenses, future medical expenses, and even car rental costs. The courts award money for these and similar damages.