If you have been injured in a car accident, you are likely focused on filing a lawsuit against the other vehicle’s driver.
While that is always a possibility, there are others against whom you can file a personal injury claim.
A jury award or settlement agreement can allow you to lodge a negligence action against a defendant with deeper pockets who can pay your medical expenses and other claims, such as compensatory damages and property damage.
Of course, when you file a lawsuit as a plaintiff, you will likely be naming the other vehicle’s driver as a defendant. However, other parties may bear some of the blame for the accident.
Your personal injury attorney will likely determine if other defendants can be added to the lawsuit.
One of the first questions your lawyer will ask is whether the other driver was working at the time of the accident. If they were, their employer might be able to be sued in a car accident lawsuit.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit against the Driver’s Employer
This liability occurs because the vehicle’s driver is considered an agent of their employer. When the company can direct its drivers, they are legally the same entity as the driver.
This happens because of something called the respondeat superior doctrine. If the driver is negligent, it is the same thing as the company itself being negligent.
However, just because the accident may have happened in a company car does not mean the employer is automatically liable for the accident.
There are some exceptions to the doctrine of liability. For example, if the driver ran an errand in the company car, that would not be considered a task that benefits their employer.
The main question that a court will ask is whether the employee acted within the scope of their employment when the accident occurred.
This would exclude personal errands and other intentional torts that the driver would commit.
When you are in an accident with a company employee, you will want to add the employer as a defendant if possible.
This is because the company will likely have a more significant insurance policy than the driver and would also have assets to fulfill a judgment if they are required to pay an amount greater than the insurer’s policy limits.
An individual driver may not have as large of a policy with the insurance company.
Still, the court may look at your degree of contributory negligence before it awards damages such as car accident injuries, pain and suffering, and medical costs.
Product Liability Lawsuits for Car Accidents
Sometimes, you may be in an accident where the other driver is not negligent. Instead, the crash was caused by either your car or the other driver’s vehicle being defective.
In this case, you could file a product liability lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer as an injury victim. Even if it was not the vehicle itself but a particular part that failed, you could still sue the maker of the auto part in a personal injury lawsuit.
Some recent lawsuits in this area include court claims related to tires and airbags. In addition, some of the more significant mass tort lawsuits of all time have been against vehicle manufacturers, such as the Ford Pinto lawsuit.
In these cases, the general rule is that the court will look at the manufacture and design of the car or the part to see if it is unreasonably dangerous.
Product liability lawsuits can lead to larger settlements and jury awards because the particular injury involved is usually more severe. As a result, there are likely higher economic and non-economic damages.
When Someone With a Car Accident Injury Can Sue the Government
Sometimes, the car accident was not caused by either of the drivers involved but was the result of poor road conditions. While it is not always easy to sue the government, it is possible when they failed to maintain the road, and it has caused personal injury.
Given the condition of many of Illinois’ and Cook County’s roads, this is becoming increasingly common, even though lawsuits can be filed in limited circumstances.
The government can be held legally responsible for the condition of the roads because they must maintain them. If the government also is negligent when repairing, they can also be required to pay financial compensation.
As an experienced attorney will advise you, there are some different procedural rules to follow when filing a lawsuit against the government. You will have a shorter statute of limitations to file your lawsuit, and there may be damage caps on the recovery you get.
A Car Accident Claim Against the Vehicle’s Owner
Depending on who was driving the car, you can also file a lawsuit against the vehicle’s owner, even if they were not driving when their actions caused your physical injury.
First, the owner may have lent their car to someone whom they should not have trusted with the vehicle.
For example, they could have given an irresponsible or drunk driver the car keys. This can also involve a teenager driving their parents’ car.
Second, the car owner may not have maintained the car in proper working condition. An example could be that they had worn or underinflated tires on the car, which caused a blowout.
Contact a Chicago car accident lawyer at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, for legal advice about your possible car accident lawsuit. We accept cases on contingency, where all lawyer fees are postponed until we win your case.