Interviewer: Do motorcycle accidents fall within that auto injury?
Robert Cummings: Yes, motorcycles, car-on-bike, car-on-pedestrian. I would say it’s a very broad category, with car accidents. Motorcycle accidents, there are attorneys who focus solely on motorcycle accidents, either because they have a passion for it because they ride bikes themselves, or just over the years they’ve developed the expertise. They can be complex and nuanced cases, solely because the person on a motorcycle isn’t surrounded by metal, when somebody in a car is. Along with that, there’s subsets of car accident cases involving big rigs and semis. Those big trucks travel interstate, meaning they go from one state to another regularly. They’re regulated not only by states, but they’re heavily regulated by the federal government. If there’s an accident with a big rig, there’s certain things that the trucking company must do early on, including drug tests for the driver and what have you. That’s another subset about the car accident cases, that is also pretty nuanced and can be somewhat technical in complex cases.
If a Bicycle Accident Involves a Car Hitting a Person or a Bicycle Then it can be Classified as a Car Accident
Interviewer: Do bicycle accidents fall within that as well? Are they more along the lines of pedestrian accidents?
Robert Cummings: It’s not necessarily like a legal distinction between what type of accidents are covered. It’s generally just a way to convey, in lay terms, what a personal injury attorney does. I think that the general person walking down the street, if you say “personal injury”, they don’t necessarily know what that means, or they don’t necessarily know, that as you said, it covers dog bites, it covers bicycle accidents, it covers product liability, it covers anything where an individual is harmed by the conduct of another person. A bicycle accident, if it involves a car hitting a person on a bicycle, then that most certainly would be a car accident case. I think at least for a lot of personal injury attorneys, an important aspect of the case is, if you’re on a bicycle and you get hit by a vehicle, you can look towards that person driving the vehicle and say, “You’re responsible.” More importantly, most of the drivers on the street … The law requires that the drivers have insurance.
A Big Aspect of an Auto Accident Case is Establishing Who is Responsible and Potentially Liable
You hopefully have your own health insurance and what have you, so that you can get covered and recuperate. You can turn to the liable party, and if they’re in a car, you can say, “Ah-ha, your car insurance, which probably has more money than you have in your pocket, is responsible.” That’s the reason why we have insurance. A big aspect of a case, when it comes in, is looking around and seeing who is potentially responsible, who is potentially liable, is there an auto insurance policy at play? Is there a homeowner insurance policy at play? With car accident cases, if there’s a car involved, you would then look at the person driving the car and say, “What is your insurance policy? What money is available there to make this injured person whole?”
A Car Accident Case is One In Which Generally you try to Go After Car Insurance or Auto Owners’ Policies
If the individual is driving somebody else’s car, you might be able to look at both policies. It’s difficult for a car accident to then go after the homeowner’s insurance policy, but if a person is driving, and they’re on their job, and they’re driving for work, you might be able to look at the employer’s insurance policy and see if there’s additional money out there, to help compensate the injured party. I would say car accident cases are cases in which you try to go after car insurance or auto owners’ policies. With premises liability, or the animal bite cases as you referred to, you would then look up either the store’s insurance policy or for like a dog bite case, most homeowner’s insurance policies cover animals in the house. You would then go to the homeowner’s insurance policy and follow the claim there, and help your client navigate that process, hopefully achieving a successful outcome, or if not, filing a law suit and seeking the damages that the injured person deserves.