If you are injured in a car accident, you could find yourself facing steep expenses like high medical bills, months of lost wages and missed career opportunities, and numerous “pain and suffering” expenses like the need for transportation help, medical supplies, and in some cases, the need for psychological counseling to work through the emotional trauma that can follow an accident. If your accident was caused by another party’s negligence, you can seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim.

Although the prospect of filing a personal injury claim can sound complicated, it does not have to be. Working with an experienced, competent personal injury lawyer can make the process fairly easy and straightforward for you. Although your lawyer can handle all the legal and technical aspects of pursuing your claim, you should be your own advocate by educating yourself about the process and your rights throughout it. Before you file a personal injury claim, take the time to learn the following terms and their definitions.

Tort

According to the Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute, a tort defined as an “act or omission that gives rise to injury or harm to another and amounts to a civil wrong for which courts impose liability.” In other words, a tort is a failure to act in a reasonable, safe manner in order to prevent injury to others.

Not all torts are acts of negligence. Intentional torts are acts committed specifically to harm others, and strict liability torts are failures on the part of service providers to comply with their duty to ensure their products’ and services’ safety. When discussing car accidents, the term “tort” most frequently refers to negligent torts, which are instances of drivers failing to operate their vehicles in a safe manner. For example, causing an accident by speeding is a negligent tort.

Burden of Proof

When an individual makes a claim alleging another party’s negligence, the alleging individual has what is known as the burden of proof to support his or her claim. This means that you cannot simply allege that another party harmed you through negligence and then collect compensation for your damages – you must prove that all the elements of liability were present in your case, which is generally done through the use of supporting evidence like photographs and the accident’s official police report.

Liability

When one party is legally responsible for the effects his or her actions have on others, he or she is liable for those effects, known as damages. In order to demonstrate a party’s liability for your damages in a car accident claim, you must demonstrate the following:

  • That party had the duty to operate a vehicle in a safe manner to protect others;
  • He or she breached this duty;
  • Because of the breach, an accident occurred; and
  • Because of the accident, you suffered an injury that resulted in specific financial damages.

Negligence

Failure to act according to one’s duty to others is known as negligence. In less abstract terms, a driver can cause an accident through any of the following types of negligence:

  • Failing to adjust his or her driving to the present weather or traffic conditions;
  • Driving drunk or under the influence of drugs;
  • Driving while distracted by a smartphone or other device;
  • Failing to properly maintain his or her vehicle; and
  • Driving aggressively or in a reckless manner.

No-Fault

In discussions of car accidents, the term “no-fault” refers to no-fault insurance policies, which are the norm in certain states. When a driver has a no-fault insurance policy, he or she must seek compensation for his or her car accident damages through the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage portion of his or her automobile insurance policy without having to demonstrate another party’s negligence. In South Carolina, an injured car accident victim must seek compensation from the negligent driver’s insurance provider, rather than from his or her own policy.

Damages

The term “damages” refers to the money paid to an injured victim after a negligent party is deemed to be liable for the results of an accident.

Work With an Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Lawyer

These are just a few of the terms you will encounter when you file a personal injury claim following a car accident. For more definitions and guidance as you move through the personal injury claim process, speak with one of the experienced car accident lawyers at Joye Law Firm. During your initial consultation, our team can answer your questions and help you feel empowered about seeking compensation for your damages. Do not wait to make the call – contact our firm today to set up your free consultation with us.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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