Not every car crash requires the help of a personal injury lawyer. Coming from an Illinois personal injury attorney that may strange, but for some car accidents, especially those with soft tissue injuries, the car accident victim may come out ahead economically by dealing directly with the insurance company without the assistance of a lawyer because the lawyer may not add enough to the settlement to justify the fees and costs incurred. However, where there the accident results in a wrongful death or more serious injuries such as brain injuries, ruptured disks, or broken bones that require surgery to repair, personal injury lawyers can provide a valuable service to car accident victims by identifying other defendants who may be potentially liable for the injuries from the car crash.
One issue that must be investigated in any serious auto accident case is whether the negligent driver was working when the wreck happened. Under a legal doctrine known as respondeat superior, an employer is liable for the negligence of its employees, including unsafe driving of a car or truck. In some of the car accident cases our office has handled, our investigation showed that the negligent driver was working when the crash happened. This allowed us to reach the insurance coverage of the employers to compensate our clients, instead of being limited to the employee’s personal car auto liability policies. For example:
- Our client suffered serious injuries that required a hip replacement and a knee replacement in an auto accident at O’Hare Airport. The other driver was a bank employee who was going to the airport to pick up an executive for a meeting. Since the trip to the airport was work-related, the bank was liable for his unsafe driving.
- In a pedestrian knockdown accident, our client was walking in a crosswalk when she was struck by a turning car and broke several bones. The driver was a salesman for a drug company who was going to a medical office for a sales presentation when accident occurred. This meant that the drug company was also liable for our client’s injuries.
In both of the auto accident cases described above, we learned during our investigation that there were other entities which could be held liable for the injuries our clients suffered. Our clients were able to recover significantly larger amounts of compensation for their injuries because of what we learned through our investigation. People who are in serious car accidents owe it to themselves and their families to make sure that there is a proper investigation by an experienced personal injury lawyer to identify all of the potentially liable defendants before signing away their rights in a settlement.