When you hear the words “plaintiff” and “defendant,” you probably imagine both as individuals. In a car accident lawsuit, you are probably thinking of the plaintiff as the injured person and the defendant as the driver of the car that caused the accident. It is not always that simple, though. The defendant is any person or entity that had a responsibility to prevent the accident; in legal terms, this responsibility is called the duty of care.
Therefore, in a car accident injury lawsuit, it could be the owner of the car that caused the accident if the driver does not own the car. If the accident was because of a malfunction of one of the car’s parts, you might even sue the car manufacturer or the company that made the faulty part. Choosing the appropriate defendant, someone who could have and should have done something differently in order to prevent the accident, is an important part of any personal injury lawsuit. To find out more about how to structure a lawsuit related to your accident, contact a Rhode Island car accident attorney.
When Is the City Liable for a Car Accident?
In general, there are two instances in which you might file a car accident lawsuit against the city. The first is a premises liability lawsuit, in which a public road was unsafe, thereby causing your accident. It is the city’s responsibility to keep roads well-maintained in order to prevent accidents.
Therefore, the city might be a good choice of a defendant if a pothole damaged your tire and caused you to lose control of the car. A poorly designed four-way stop might also count as negligence on the city’s part.
The other case where you might sue the city is if a car belonging to the city caused your accident. For example, if you collide with a police patrol car, and the officer driving the car is at fault, the city should be the defendant, because the car belongs to the city, and the officer was driving it as a work vehicle, much as you would sue a courier company if one of its vehicles collided with your car.
Caveats About Personal Injury Lawsuits Against Local Governments
Preparing for and filing a lawsuit against a local government in Rhode Island can be more work than a lawsuit against a private individual. First, there are more requirements for filing a claim before you reach the lawsuit phase.
You must present a “notice of claim” to the city, with detailed information about the accident and resulting injuries. Second, the city can claim immunity; in other words, freedom from responsibility, for various types of accidents. Finally, if you win the case, the maximum amount of money the court can require the city to pay you is $100,000.
Contact Dana & Dana About Car Accident Cases
If you have been injured in a car accident due to an unsafe road or negligence on the part of a city employee, you could be able to recover compensation. Contact Dana & Dana, a personal injury law firm in Providence, Rhode Island, to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.