Car wrecks can cause terrible physical and mental injuries, the effects of which may linger for months or even years. You deserve compensation for those injuries, whether they are medical expenses, pain and suffering, or loss of income. The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, can help you determine what compensation you are entitled to and figure out the best way to pursue that compensation. 

Can I Recover Through a Lawsuit?

recovering damages after a car accident

The best way to pursue compensation may be a lawsuit. When you file a lawsuit, your attorney will ask for damages—money that you should receive to compensate you for your injuries. If the court decides in your favor, you’ll be entitled to recover those damages. But before you can recover damages, someone has to be able to pay for them. Unfortunately, depending upon the seriousness of your accident, not every driver will have the resources to cover the cost of your injuries. 

However, there are several other avenues of recovery for damages that the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, can help you pursue. You can seek damages through:  

  • Insurance policies
  • Personal assets
  • Employer’s insurance
  • Products liability
  • Joint and several liability

Can I Recover Under an Insurance Policy?

Insurance policies are the most common method of recovery in a car accident case. After all, the law requires drivers to carry insurance that will cover damages resulting from the accidents they cause. Because this is mandatory, it is likely that the other driver has collision insurance that can cover most, if not all, of your injuries. 

In most cases, you will file an insurance claim with the insurance provider after the accident. But when the insurance company investigates the claim, it may decide that the other driver wasn’t at fault and refuse to cover your injuries. Or the insurance company may admit that the other driver was at fault but the settlement they offer is not enough to cover all of your injuries. 

Under either of these circumstances, you can still pursue recovery under the other driver’s insurance policy. However, your first step should be to contact the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC. We will advocate on your behalf, whether it is through negotiation for a better settlement with the insurance company or through a lawsuit. If you file a lawsuit and the court finds that the other driver was at fault, the insurance company will have to pay the amount of damages the court awards you.

Car insurance policies are the default method of seeking damages after a car accident. However, you may have been hit by a driver who didn’t have insurance. Or your injuries may cost more than what the other driver’s insurance policy limit may cover. When this occurs, the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, can help you pursue other avenues of recovery of damages.

Can I Recover from the Driver’s Personal Assets?

If the other driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have sufficient insurance that will cover your injuries, you may consider trying to recover compensation from the other driver’s personal assets. Although this is possible, many people do not have the personal assets available to cover damages related to a car accident—particularly if you are requesting extensive medical expenses, months of lost income, and pain and suffering. 

You may have been in an accident that causes severe injuries, requiring you to spend several weeks in the hospital, have surgery, participate in an extended physical therapy program, and miss several months of work. Under these circumstances, your damages could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most people are not able to pay those amounts from their personal assets, even if a court orders them to do so. You can’t get money from someone if they simply don’t have it. 

So, although it may be possible to pursue the other driver’s personal assets for recovery, you may find that this is not the most effective option if you’re asking for a significant amount of damages. 

Can I Recover from the Insurance of the Other Driver’s Employer?

If you are not able to recover from the other driver’s personal assets, it may be possible to file an insurance claim with the other driver’s employer using a legal doctrine called “respondeat superior.”  Respondeat superior is a legal theory that holds an employer accountable for the actions of his or her employee when:

  • The employee is acting within the scope of their employment; and 
  • The employee is under the employer’s direction or supervision

Perhaps the driver who hit you was a: 

  • Truck driver
  • Delivery person
  • Bus driver

Because their employment requires them to drive, each of these drivers were likely acting within the scope of their employment at the time of your accident. Likewise, perhaps the person who hit you doesn’t have a job specifically requiring that they drive but, rather, the employee was running an errand or task for his or her employer when they caused the accident. In any of these cases, the driver likely was acting within the scope of their employment. When this occurs, an employer is likely liable for the injuries caused by their employee’s negligent driving. 

Employers tend to carry extensive insurance policies to cover these circumstances. So, if you were injured by an employee acting on behalf of their employer, you may be able to recover from the employer’s insurance policy through respondeat superior. 

Often, it is difficult for the employer to argue that their driver was not responsible for the accident. In these cases, you may be satisfied to settle your case with the employer’s insurance company.  But if the employer doesn’t admit fault, then you will need to hire an experienced attorney who can help you negotiate with the insurance company or hold the employer accountable through trial.

What If There was No Other Driver at Fault?

It is possible that you had a car accident because something malfunctioned in your car. Perhaps the brakes on your vehicle were faulty or your steering wheel locked-up. Although no other driver was involved, you still may have sustained injuries in your car accident. However, there is no other driver at fault to hold accountable for your injuries. 

In such cases, you may be able to hold the manufacturer or distributor of your vehicle liable for your injuries under a “products liability” theory. Products liability may include claims covering: 

  • Design defects. Design defects exist when the way something is designed is inherently dangerous. For example, if your brakes were designed in a way that makes them fail any time you push on the brake pedal too hard, then that is a design defect. Basically, this means that the very way the brakes were designed made them dangerous to you.
  • Manufacturer defects. More commonly, you might file a manufacturing defect claim. In a manufacturing defect case, you would argue that although the design of the product was safe, something that the manufacturer did made the product defective. For example, if the brakes on your car were designed safely but the manufacturer improperly installed the brakes, causing them to fail, that would be a manufacturing defect.
  • Warning/label defects. You might have a warning or labeling defect claim if some part of your vehicle had to be operated in a certain way in order for it to be safe, but the literature that came with your car did not effectively communicate the proper way to operate it. Because you were not properly informed and had no reason to know of the potential danger, you acted in a way that would normally be reasonable but, in this case, caused the injury. If this occurs, you might be able to pursue a product liability claim based on a warning/label defect.

If there was some defect in your vehicle itself that caused the wreck, the attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, can pursue damages against the designer, manufacturer, or distributor to make sure that you are compensated for your injuries. 

What If There Was More Than One Person at Fault?

It’s possible that you were in a car accident in which more than one other driver or person was at fault. When more than one person is at fault, the legal theory of joint and several liability allows you to pursue recovery for damages from all of the people that are found to be at fault. Essentially, everyone who was negligent shares in the blame for what happened. 

Imagine that a pedestrian jaywalked across an intersection. At the same time, the car that was approaching the intersection was going thirty miles over the speed limit. To avoid hitting the pedestrian, the car swerved and hit your car instead. In this case, the pedestrian was at fault because he or she should not have proceeded through the intersection. However, had the oncoming car been going the speed limit instead of thirty miles per hour over the speed limit, it would have had time to stop and avoid the pedestrian. 

In this accident, two other people were at fault for the injuries you sustained as a result, and you want to recover damages. Depending on your jurisdiction, joint and several liability may allow you to recover damages from both the pedestrian and the driver. 

Contact Top Kansas City Attorneys Today

When you have been in a car accident caused by another person, you deserve compensation for your injuries. The best thing you can do is hire an experienced attorney who will be able to assess your case in the context of the laws in your state and pursue maximum compensation. The attorneys at Foster Wallace, LLC, will be able to help you pursue recovery of damages through a variety of different methods. Contact us today for a free consultation to determine which method of recovery is most appropriate in your case. 
Michael Foster
Kansas City Personal Injury Attorney
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