Victims of car accidents have the discretion to represent themselves in a personal injury car accident claim. However, that is not advisable under most circumstances. Insurance companies are big businesses, and they will not do you any favours when it comes to evaluating your case and awarding you monetary compensation.
Rather, insurance companies and their adjusters will do everything to poke holes into your case and limit the compensation they pay you. After all, they don’t make money by paying out personal injury claims.
Moreover, suppose the insurance company sees that you do not have legal representation in a personal injury claim. In that case, the adjuster is more likely to take advantage of you and significantly undervalue your case.
The adjuster will also assume that you do not have the necessary legal skills to represent yourself during settlement negotiations or trial. In most car accident claims, the sooner you involve legal counsel, the better off you and your case will be.
An experienced car accident lawyer can be an invaluable help to you and your personal injury case. Your lawyer can first file a claim on your behalf and work to negotiate a favourable settlement for you. Your lawyer can also advise whether a particular settlement offer is a good offer or a bad offer and explain the benefits and risks of litigation.
If the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation you need, your lawyer can file a lawsuit for you and, if necessary, litigate your car accident case.
Finally, if the case goes to a jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding, your lawyer can zealously advocate for your legal interests and work to get you all of the compensation you deserve.
Types of Car Accidents That Occur and Common Causes
Car accidents that result from driver error and negligence can lead to an accident victim’s incapacity. The injuries that a car accident victim will suffer depend upon the extent of the accident, the type of accident, how the accident occurs, and the force of the collision.
Common car accidents that lead to injuries include rear-end accidents, where the front of a vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle, and broadside collisions at intersections, where the front of the at-fault vehicle strikes the side of a vehicle that is traveling on an adjacent roadway.
Sideswipe accidents occur when two vehicles moving in the same direction collide. Finally, head-on car accidents can happen when a vehicle crosses a median strip or double line and strikes the front of an oncoming vehicle in the opposite travel lane. Although all of these accidents can lead to severe injuries, head-on collisions are the most likely to cause permanent injuries and, in some cases, fatalities.
When any of these car accidents result from driver negligence or error, the accident victim might be in a position to file a personal injury claim. The accident victim can file their claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company in most cases.
Some common types of negligence that can lead to a personal injury claim include:
- Distracted Driving – Distracted driving occurs when a driver fails to pay attention to the road but instead pays attention to something else. For example, a distracted driver might be busy programming a GPS device or sending a text message on a cellular phone or tablet rather than paying attention to the road. Even when a driver turns their head away from the road for one or two seconds, that can be sufficient time for a collision to occur.
- Intoxicated Driving – Motor vehicle drivers who operate their vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher are per se intoxicated. Even when a driver has a lower BAC, a police officer can still arrest them for impaired motor vehicle operation. Alcohol can significantly impair a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle carefully and safely. Specifically, a drunk driver might experience delayed reaction time or blurred vision, causing them to bring about a collision with another vehicle or with a pedestrian.
- Violating Traffic Laws – Negligent motor vehicle drivers also cause accidents when they violate traffic regulations and laws. For example, a negligent driver might speed or fail to yield the right-of-way at a traffic intersection red light or stop sign, causing a motor vehicle collision.
If you have suffered injuries in one of these types of accidents resulting from driver negligence, you might be in a position to file a personal injury claim. A knowledgeable car accident personal injury lawyer can help you.
Common Injuries in Car Accidents
Car accidents can lead to severe injuries that require significant medical treatment and rehabilitation. When a car accident victim suffers injuries in a collision caused by someone else’s negligence, they can file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages.
The injuries that victims of car accidents suffer depend on the force of the impact, the type of accident, and how the accident moves their body.
Generally speaking, forceful collisions cause more severe injuries than light-impact accidents.
In some instances, the force of the collision is so strong that the accident victim’s body moves around inside the vehicle, and a part of the accident victim’s body might strike something in the vehicle. For example, the accident victim’s head might strike the window, steering wheel, or headrest at the time of impact. Whenever this happens, the accident victim can sustain serious injuries.
Some of the most common injuries that victims of car accidents suffer include soft tissue injuries, broken bones, traumatic head and brain injuries, internal injuries, cuts and abrasions, and even death.
Following a motor vehicle crash, an accident victim may need to follow up at a hospital emergency room, urgent care center, another medical facility, or with a family care doctor. In addition, the accident victim might need to undergo surgery or other medical procedure and attend physical therapy sessions at regular intervals.
While the accident victim completes their medical treatment, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can gather all of the treatment medical records and bills, lost wage statements, and other essential documents.
While you focus your attention on making a full recovery from your injuries, your lawyer can begin assembling all of these documents into a settlement demand package and pursuing the monetary compensation that you deserve to recover for your injuries.
How a Lawyer Can Help
Having a knowledgeable and experienced car accident lawyer on board in your case is essential. If you do not have a lawyer advocating for you, the insurance company will likely try to take advantage of you and significantly undervalue your claim.
The insurance company will assume that you do not have the necessary skills to negotiate a favourable settlement offer or take your case to a jury trial or arbitration proceeding. Therefore, the adjuster will offer you the lowest compensation possible if you don’t have a lawyer advocating for you.
There are numerous ways that a personal injury lawyer can assist you with your car accident claim. First of all, after your accident, a lawyer can investigate the circumstances that led to your accident. This is especially helpful in cases where the insurance company is disputing fault or liability for the crash.
Your lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist or other expert investigator who can speak with witnesses, review the police report, and piece together exactly how the motor vehicle collision happened. In addition, if your case goes to trial, the investigator or responding police officer can be a key witness who can help prove that the other driver caused the accident.
In addition to investigating your motor vehicle crash circumstances, a knowledgeable lawyer can help you prove the legal elements of your claim. The accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof in a car accident case.
The at-fault driver does not need to prove anything in the case or even testify at a jury trial. Rather, the sole legal burden of proof rests with the accident victim plaintiff. Specifically, the accident victim will need to show that the other driver violated a rule of the road, which led to the motor vehicle accident.
In addition, the accident victim will need to demonstrate that they suffered an injury in the accident and that the injury directly resulted from the accident. To prove the legal elements of your personal injury claim, a knowledgeable lawyer can retain a medical expert who can causally connect your injuries to the accident. In addition, in writing, the expert can state to a reasonable degree of medical probability that you suffered a permanent injury in your accident.
In addition to helping you prove the legal elements of your personal injury claim, a skilled lawyer can file a claim with the insurance company on your behalf and work to negotiate a favourable settlement offer for you. Specifically, your lawyer can submit the medical records, lost-earning statements, photographs, and victim-impact statements into a settlement demand package.
Your lawyer can include a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement along with the demand package. In most cases, initial offers from insurance company adjusters are extremely low and are far less than the true value of the personal injury claim.
Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf by highlighting the strengths of your case and downplaying any case weaknesses.
After several negotiations, the insurance company adjuster may increase their offer to an acceptable level. If this happens, your lawyer can settle the case on your behalf. At that point, there will be no need for a jury trial or arbitration proceeding.
However, if the insurance company does not offer you the compensation that you deserve, your lawyer can file a lawsuit for you and litigate the case.
For example, your lawyer can draft answers to written questions, called interrogatories, and prepare you for your discovery deposition. At a deposition, the defense lawyer handling your case will ask you questions about the accident, your injuries, and any permanent effects of your injuries. Moreover, if the case must go to trial, your lawyer can zealously advocate for you and work to convince a jury that you deserve to recover compensation.
The parties might agree to binding arbitration as an alternative to a jury trial. At a binding arbitration proceeding, an arbitrator will resolve the case and determine the amount of the damages to award the accident victim plaintiff. Your lawyer can assist you with all of these legal proceedings and work to maximize the compensation you recover for your car accident injuries.
Potential Damages You Could Recover in Your Case
Car accidents can lead to serious injuries, extensive medical treatment, and long periods of pain and suffering. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can help you pursue and recover the monetary damages that you deserve for your injuries.
First of all, if you missed time away from work, your lawyer can help you recover lost wages in your case. Likewise, your lawyer can pursue pain and suffering compensation on your behalf. Pain and suffering damages compensate accident victims for their past and future physical pain and suffering and their emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life stemming from their injuries.
Moreover, if you suffered a permanent injury in your car accident, such as a spinal cord or paralysis injury, your lawyer can file a claim for loss of the ability to use a specific body part. In addition, your lawyer can make a claim for loss of spousal companionship or consortium based upon your accident-related injuries.
A personal injury lawyer can help the accident victim recover punitive damages in some instances. A jury can award damages in cases where an at-fault driver behaved particularly egregious or recklessly given the circumstances.
For example, the driver might have grossly exceeded the speed limit in rush-hour traffic or operated their vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, bringing about a serious collision. The purpose of punitive damages is to discourage other drivers from acting similarly.
Finally, if an accident victim succumbs to their injuries and dies, a personal injury lawyer can help the surviving family members bring a wrongful death claim.
As part of a wrongful death claim, surviving family members or the personal representative of the accident victim’s estate recover compensation for funeral and burial costs and future wages if a family member depends on the accident victim for income.
Finally, the surviving family members can recover compensation for the loss of the deceased individual’s comfort, care, and companionship. Your lawyer will zealously advocate for your legal interests and help you to maximize the compensation that you receive for your car accident claim or lawsuit.