Should I Call My Insurance if an Accident is Not My Fault?
If you suffered injuries in a car crash you didn’t cause, limit your contact with insurance companies—both your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurer. Instead, first speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer who can make the necessary calls on your behalf. Once your lawyer notifies the appropriate insurers and opens a claim, they can deal with the insurance companies directly, file a personal injury claim on your behalf, and work to obtain favorable settlement compensation for you.
You should never agree to provide a recorded statement following a car accident—even to your insurance company—without having a lawyer present to guide you. The only purpose for requesting a recorded statement is for the insurance company to try to obtain damaging evidence against you. They want to see if they can catch you off guard and limit the settlement compensation they pay you.
In addition to standing by you during your statement, your lawyer can assist you throughout the remainder of your car accident case and represent you during all court hearings during the litigation stage of your case.
At-Fault Drivers in Car Accidents
Many car accidents are the other driver’s fault, which means the other driver behaved negligently under the circumstances.
The most common types of driver negligence that lead to a car crash include violating road rules, aggressive driving, distracted vehicle operation, and intoxicated driving.
- Violating the law – Legal violations can lead to serious accidents. Some drivers willfully violate road rules, while other drivers sometimes break these laws inadvertently. Common road rule violations that cause car crashes include failing to yield the right-of-way or speeding.
- Aggressive driving – When exhibit road rage, they react inappropriately to a perceived or real circumstance that arises while driving. They might become impatient with another driver driving too slow or stopping at a yellow light at a traffic intersection. When drivers become upset while behind the wheel, they sometimes make bad decisions. They might aggressively weave in and out of highway traffic or tailgate other vehicles, increasing their chances of causing a rear-end crash.
- Distracted driving – A driver can become distracted under varying circumstances, such as when listening to loud music in their vehicle or disciplining young children in the back of the car. A driver also becomes distracted when they fiddle with a GPS or other electronic device while on the road. A distracted driver who fails to pay sufficient attention to the road can cause an accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian walking or running in the vicinity.
- Intoxicated driving – Criminal intoxication refers to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, and there can be administrative sanctions for a BAC of 0.05. A driver with a lower BAC can still experience the negative symptoms of alcohol impairment, even if they do not face criminal penalties. Those symptoms often include blurred vision, an inability to focus, and delayed reaction time while driving. Therefore, an impaired or intoxicated driver might not stop their vehicle in time to avoid impacting another vehicle or pedestrian.
If a car crash injured you due to someone else’s negligence, your lawyer can help you file a claim for damages with the appropriate insurance company and, if necessary, litigate your claim in the civil court system.
What Injuries that Victims of Car Crashes Suffer?
Victims of car accidents often suffer extremely serious injuries that cause intense suffering, pain, and inconvenience, lasting for many weeks or months. Following a car crash, accident victims should seek same-day medical treatment at a hospital emergency room so that a medical provider can thoroughly examine them and administer the necessary X-rays, MRIs, brain scans, and other imaging studies.
If an accident victim’s injuries go untreated for a significant time, their injuries can worsen. Moreover, if the accident victim does not receive care right away, the insurance company might later question the validity of their car accident claim.
Car accident victims may suffer brain damage, bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, internal injuries, back injuries, abrasions, lacerations, and paralysis injuries.
While you focus your attention on making a full recovery from your accident-related injuries, your lawyer can focus on handling the legal aspects of your car accident claim. Your lawyer will already be in touch with the appropriate insurance company and know which adjuster handles your claim. Your lawyer can gather the necessary documents to assemble a demand package for the adjuster’s review, including copies of your medical treatment records, investigation reports, lost wage documents, photographs, and victim impact statement.
Once you complete your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit all of these documents, along with a settlement demand letter, to the appropriate insurance company for review. Assuming the insurance company accepts liability for the accident, your lawyer can begin negotiating a favorable settlement on your behalf.
When it comes time to settle your car accident case, you have the final authority. Consequently, you—and not your attorney—make the final decision about whether to accept or reject a pending settlement offer from the insurance company’s adjuster. If the settlement offer does not fairly compensate you for your injuries and other consequences of the car accident, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and pursue your case to an efficient resolution.
Third-Party Insurance Claims
In most car accident claims, the accident victim’s lawyer will deal exclusively with the insurance company for the at-fault driver. This is called the third-party insurer. To prove that you are eligible for third-party recovery in your car accident claim, you must establish that another driver behaved unreasonably under the circumstances and that your accident happened as a result. Furthermore, you must demonstrate that you suffered at least one injury in your car accident and that your injury directly resulted from your car accident.
As the accident victim, you have the sole legal burden of proof in your case. The at-fault driver does not need to prove anything as part of a third-party claim or lawsuit. Assuming you can prove the legal elements of your third-party claim or lawsuit, you can recover various monetary damages for the injuries you suffered in your car crash.
First-Party Insurance Claims
Although drivers are not supposed to operate their vehicles without insurance, sadly, that does not always happen. When an uninsured driver causes a car crash that leads to injuries, the accident victim will need to turn to their insurance company for compensation—via an uninsured motorist (UM) claim. Accident victims can also file an uninsured motorist claim when the at-fault driver quickly flees the accident scene in a so-called phantom vehicle accident.
Similarly, if the accident victim’s damages exceed the available coverage through the at-fault driver’s policy, the accident victim can turn to their insurance company—via an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim—for the difference. However, before filing a UIM claim with their insurance company, they will first need to exhaust the full limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist claims are examples of first-party claims. In addition to alleging that another driver caused the accident, these claims also allege breach of contract.
More specifically, in a first-party claim, the accident victim alleges that the insurance company breached its contractual obligation to them by failing to step into the at-fault driver’s shoes, so to speak, and pay fair and reasonable compensation to settle the insurance claim.
Otherwise, a UM or UIM claim works the same way as a third-party claim when pursuing and recovering monetary compensation for an accident victim’s injuries.
A skilled car accident lawyer can help you file the appropriate UM or UIM claim, as necessary, to recover the damages you need for your accident-related injuries.
What are the Strict Deadlines for Car Accident Lawsuits?
Timeliness is key when filing a personal injury claim stemming from a car accident due to the statute of limitations. For instance, in Alberta, individuals only have two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit seeking monetary recovery for their injuries. This is a hard and fast deadline under the law, with very few exceptions. If you fail to sue in time, you will automatically waive your right to recover monetary compensation later.
If you wait too long to seek legal help, the insurance company will know the statute of limitations is approaching. The adjuster knows that if you miss the deadline, you cannot pursue a successful lawsuit, so you have no option but to accept a settlement offer. This jeopardizes the potential compensation you might receive from an insurance settlement – yet another reason why you should hire a lawyer at the beginning of the process.
In addition to representing you throughout the insurance claim process, a car accident lawyer can ensure that you file your lawsuit well within the statute of limitations. Even after your lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf in court, they can still negotiate a fair settlement and resolve your case until your jury trial. Few matters get to trial without first settling, though filing on time is critical.
Your lawyer will be your advocate every step of the way and pursue the compensation you deserve, either through settlement negotiations or litigation.
Potential Damages You Might Recover from the Insurance Company in Your Car Accident Claim
Car accident victims can recover various damages when they file a first-party or third-party claim with the appropriate insurance company. The damages that an accident victim recovers will depend upon several factors, including the severity of their injuries, the extent of their medical treatment, and whether or not they had to miss time from work due to their injuries.
When accident victims have to miss work time to attend medical appointments, they can bring a claim for lost wages. They can also pursue compensation if their injuries prevent them from working at the same job, or in the same industry, due to their injuries. In that instance, they can claim a loss of earning capacity if they have to take a pay cut.
Car accident victims can also pursue compensation for all of the pain and suffering that stems from their injuries. If they lost the use of a body part due to paralysis or some other permanent injury, they can bring a loss of use claim for monetary compensation. They may also bring a claim for loss of life enjoyment if their accident-related injuries prevent them from partaking in activities that they once enjoyed, such as sports or spending time with friends and family.
Finally, accident victims can pursue compensation for loss of spousal companionship and family support.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash due to someone’s negligence, you have legal options available to you. A car accident lawyer can help you pursue monetary damages that fully compensate you for your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation you need, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration.
Talk With an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
After a car crash, many accident victims are confused and unsure about where to turn or what to do next. In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment for your car accident injuries, one of the first steps you should take following your car crash is to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Your lawyer can call your insurance company and inform them of the accident. They can also deal with your insurance company on an ongoing basis while your car accident claim is pending—and file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim if one of those becomes necessary. Your lawyer will aggressively advocate on your behalf and work to recover the full amount of monetary compensation that is available to you in your car accident case. Contact a personal injury lawyer to get your free consultation.