The majority of personal injury claims in the United States come from auto accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 5,000,000 police reported car crashes in 2014. People who operate automobiles are expected to exercise “reasonable care under the circumstances” while driving and if they fail to do so, they may be held liable in a personal injury claim due to their negligence.

There are a wide range of auto accidents that are responsible for causing personal injuries and result in a legal claim. At the lower end of the scale are fender benders, which typically cause delayed soft tissue injuries. At the other end of the scale are the multi-car pileups and accidents that cause multiple deaths. To win a personal injury claim, the injured party must show that the defendant was negligent, the negligence caused the accident, and the accident caused the injuries. Police reports, state traffic laws, and witnesses can help you determine who is at fault and what rules were violated.

Some factors leading to liability in a personal injury suit include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

  • Disobeying traffic signs or signals
  • Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
  • Driving above or below the posted speed limit
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failing to signal while turning
  • Improper or excessive lane changing
  • Improper passing
  • Intentional or reckless conduct
  • Use of the shoulder, median, or an emergency lane to pass

Some auto accidents are not the fault of the drivers. A defect in someone’s automobile could lead to an accident, which would mean that an automobile manufacturer or supplier may be responsible. In most cases, these accidents would fall under product liability laws instead of personal injury laws. However, under product liability laws, the manufacturer is liable for any injuries the product causes, regardless of whether the manufacturer was negligent.

If an auto accident is caused by poorly designed or maintained roads, malfunctioning traffic control signals, insufficient lighting, or poorly placed construction obstacles, government entities may be the ones held responsible in a personal injury claim. Special rules apply to claims and lawsuits brought against government entities and those rules can differ from state to state. Proper legal advice is critical to preserving and winning these types of personal injury claims.