Variations of Guilty: Does Mental Illness Complicate Injury Charges?

When a vehicular accident occurs in an at-fault state, someone must be named as the responsible party for the accident. This helps the police issue any specific citations for violations that may have occurred, and it helps establish whose insurance company will pay for the damages.

In the event that a driver who is deemed at-fault for the accident claims that they suffer from a mental disorder, even something like ADHD, will that affect the claim for the injured party? The answer should be no.

There are so many kids and young adults being diagnosed with ADHD now, more so than ever. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) defines ADHD as “a neurobiological disorder, a mental illness that can affect your ability to concentrate, regulate behavior, pick up on subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) social cues, focus on work in a timely manner, organize materials and complete tasks.”

If a parent is willing to risk putting their child, who has been diagnosed with ADHD, behind the wheel of a car, and the child’s lack of self-regulation and impulsiveness causes an accident in which you are involved and hurt, you should not hesitate to go about getting compensated.

Understanding An Insurance Policy

An insurance policy is a contract between a buyer and insurance provider. This contract states that for a specific amount of money (Cost of Policy) the insurance company will provide specific insurance benefits. Any conditions to receiving these benefits would be disclosed by both parties at the time of purchase. If at that time both parties find everything acceptable, a contract is formed.

If the driver of the vehicle has a mental illness and does not disclose it to the insurance company, and the insurance company would not have provided the policy if they would have known, it is fraud. This is a separate case for the insurance company to pursue against the person who owns the policy. While they may wish to claim the policy as null and void and not pay the injured party, any personal injury attorney would be able to overturn this and require the insurer to pay the injured party.

The injured party should not be concerned if whether or not the purchaser committed fraud when buying the policy, only if there was a policy in place that will pay for their injuries. As one Charleston South Carolina personal injury lawyer cautions, “Do not trust your insurance company to treat you fairly.”

Understanding Compensation Claims

When someone has been injured, they have the right to file a claim for compensation for those injuries. In most cases, the injured party sues the insurance company of the at-fault driver and receives just and fair compensation. In some events, if the at-fault driver is underinsured, the injured party may have to sue the person individually for any additional compensation.

The defense attorney for the at-fault driver may plead with the Court that the driver was mentally impaired and should not be held responsible for his or her actions. Depending on the circumstances and the degree of mental impairment, the Court may find that the compensation received from the insurance company is all that the injured party is entitled to at that time. However, it is very rare for the Court or jury to find in favor of the at-fault party.

What To Do If You Are Injured

In the end, regardless of who was driving the car that hit you, when you are involved in an accident you should hire a personal injury attorney that specializes in vehicular events. Because so many different twists and turns may occur during the time you are making your request for compensation, you will find that having someone familiar with the law on your side is very beneficial. An expert will know if the defendant’s claim of mental illness is valid or not and guide you through the legal process.

Many parents today use their child’s diagnosis of ADHD to get them extra accommodations in school, extra time for taking tests, or a lesser workload of work and assignments. Driving a car is a privilege, not a right and teens should be made aware of this. If a teen causes you to be hurt and his or her parents come back with a not guilty plea because of mental illness, you don’t have to accept that. Work closely with your personal injury lawyer to fight for all the compensation you are entitled.

Debbie Nguyen is a designer and blogger in the greater Atlanta area. In researching, she has found that Charleston South Carolina personal injury lawyer group, Howell and Christmas, LLC, has been assisting injured parties successfully recover costs and compensations for medical bills and lost wages.

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