Auto Accidents Newsletters
The ubiquitous taxicab is a fixture in the more densely populated areas of the United States. The sheer numbers of such vehicles, and the intensive nature of the manner in which they operate, create types and volumes of risks that implicate numerous issues in the area of auto insurance and the insurance coverage afforded in incidents involving such vehicles.
Tort law is the branch of the legal system that deals with cases in which an individual or other legally recognized entity, such as a corporation or governmental unit, seeks to recover damages from another person for a private injury or wrong not arising out of a contractual relationship. Tort actions are often based on the concept of negligence, which the law generally defines in such a context as the failure to meet the standard of care required to avoid subjecting another to unreasonable risk of injury. Under traditional tort law principles, if the plaintiff in such a case was found to have been guilty of what is called contributory negligence, which is generally defined as a failure to use due care that contributes to the plaintiff's own injury, the plaintiff would be barred from recovering any damages from the defendant. More recently, many courts have adopted a doctrine called comparative fault or comparative negligence in deciding such cases.
A typical hit-and-run accident is a collision between two vehicles, and one of them leaves the accident scene. However, there are other types of hit-and-run accidents. A hit-and-run accident may also involve chain reaction accidents, flying auto parts, auto debris on the road, and objects thrown or shot from other vehicles.
The basic elements of proof that a plaintiff has to establish in a products liability action against the manufacturer or seller of a motor vehicle are that the vehicle as sold contained a defect that created an unreasonable risk of death, personal injury, or property damage when the vehicle was put to its intended use and that the defect caused an accident or similar incident, such as a vehicle fire, that resulted in the loss or damage for which the plaintiff seeks to recover damages. Vehicle defects can include shortcomings in the design of a vehicle, mistakes in the manufacture of its component parts or in their assembly into a complete car or truck, and failure to warn the purchaser or operator of a risk inherent in the use and operation of the vehicle. Manufacturers have a number of defenses available to them in seeking to prevent a plaintiff from succeeding in an automotive products liability action.
An automobile insurance policy can limit liability to a certain dollar amount for each accident or occurrence of loss suffered by an insured. Generally, per accident and per occurrence mean the same thing. One occurrence is a single, uninterrupted cause that can result in one or a number of bodily injuries or property damage. For example, if an insured's vehicle hits a car and that collision breaks the steering gear on the insured's vehicle causing it to hit another car, then only one accident occurred within the meaning of the insurance policy limitation. Therefore, there can be multiple claims of injuries and damages that arise from one accident.