In the USA the law requires that every driver of a motor vehicle must drive in a reasonably safe manner. A failure to drive a vehicle reasonably safely is considered to be negligence. The negligent driver is responsible to compensate the victim of his negligence for the reasonable value of the harm caused by such negligence. This can include both economic and non-economic harm. Non-economic compensation includes compensation for pain and suffering, disability and loss of the enjoyment and amenities of life.
U.S. law also requires that every driver of a vehicle on the road must have a minimum amount of liability insurance. In some States however it is legal to drive with as little as $15,000 liability insurance. This means that if an insured driver has only $15,000 coverage but causes injury and damage in excess of that amount, there is no insurance money to pay for the amount of damage that exceeds the policy limit. Even worse, there is no state fund to cover the injured victim whose damages are caused by a negligent driver who has no insurance.
Do Irish people injured in the U.S. have to pay U.S. hospitals in order to receive treatment?
If an accident victim has medical insurance, it will be used to pay for any necessary treatments. If an accident victim does not have such insurance, a hospital’s obligation to treat them depends primarily on the nature of their injuries. U.S. law compels most hospitals to treat patients who require emergency care. This law protects everyone, including foreign citizens, who have injuries that require immediate care in an emergency room. The injuries must be serious and the treatment can only be used to stabilise them. After being stabilised, the uninsured patient will be discharged from the hospital and the hospital may still look to them to pay the costs of the treatment.
Is it difficult for Irish people injured in the USA to have access to USA justice?
Foreign victims of road traffic or other accidents have equal rights to those of U.S. citizens to obtain compensation from the parties responsible for their injuries and losses. It is best to act promptly and seek help from the right lawyers if you are injured in an accident in the USA. The most important thing to do is to find a lawyer that specialises in personal injury claims who has experience of representing foreign victims.
The majority of personal injury claims are settled by insurance companies before going to trial.
What are the legal costs that will be payable if I pursue a compensation claim in the USA?
In the USA contingency fee agreements are used by U.S. lawyers. This means that your attorney will advance the expenses of the case and will not be paid for his legal services unless and until the case resolves by the payment of money by the insurance company. Once there is monetary recovery, your lawyer will be repaid the case expenses he has advanced and the fees he is due under his retainer agreement. The fees are usually between 33.33% to 40% of the amount recovered. All of this will be set out in a written retainer agreement.
The contingency fee system allows ordinary people to be properly represented without having to borrow large amounts of money to pay for lawyers’ fees and case expenses.
IF you or a family member has been injured in a road traffic accident in the USA we can look after your interests and ensure you get the best representation possible. Contact Liam Moloney today at 045 898000 or via email at Liammoloney@moloneysolicitors.ie to discuss the next steps