How long after a car accident can you claim injury? Victims of car accidents that result from negligence often suffer severe injuries. However, accident victims do not have unlimited time to file a claim or lawsuit. Delayed filing can be fatal to their case—and it may prevent them from recovering monetary compensation for their injuries. For more information, please reach out to a car accident lawyer.
The best way to avoid a statute of limitations problem in your car accident case is to involve an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can file a personal injury claim or lawsuit on your behalf—and promptly.
Afterward, your lawyer can negotiate the claim and work to obtain favourable settlement compensation for you. After negotiating, If the insurance company still refuses to compensate you appropriately, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court.
Reasons Why Car Accidents Happen
Car crashes usually happen when drivers negligently operate their vehicles. Negligent driving means doing something that a hypothetical reasonable driver will not do under the same circumstances or failing to do something that a reasonable driver will do under the same circumstances. The most common types of negligence that can lead to a car accident include reckless driving, distracted driving, road rule violations, and intoxicated driving.
Reckless driving – Reckless driving means operating a motor vehicle exceptionally carelessly. Common examples of reckless driving include road rage or aggressively weaving in and out of busy highway traffic. Cutting off a car, such as at a highway entrance, is another common reckless driving maneuver that can lead to a crash.
Distracted driving – Distracted driving means failing to give adequate care and attention to the road while behind the wheel of a car. Distracted drivers are usually looking down or have their heads turned for one reason or another. For instance, the driver might be looking down to send a text message on a cellular device. The driver may also be programming a GPS or have their head turned to discipline a child sitting in the backseat. Finally, a distracted driver might be listening to loud music in the vehicle and not paying attention to the road. Whenever a driver is distracted, even for a few seconds, that can be enough time for a severe crash to occur.
Violating road rules – When drivers disregard the rules of the road, they are far more likely to cause serious accidents.
Common road rule violations that lead to traffic collisions include:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way, such as at a stop sign or intersection traffic light.
- Taking other reckless actions while they are behind the wheel.
Intoxicated driving – Like road rule violations, drunken driving is another common cause of serious accidents—especially when the involved vehicles are traveling at high speeds. A driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Even if they have a lower BAC, they might still suffer the effects of alcohol impairment. Alberta imposes administrative sanctions from a BAC of 0.05 percent.
For example, they may experience blurred vision that prevents them from driving straight. They might also experience delayed reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicles in time to avoid striking a pedestrian or another vehicle. In addition to criminal penalties for a DUI conviction, an intoxicated driver who causes an accident can be responsible for the consequences.
If you have suffered injuries in one of these car crashes, your lawyer can first meet with you to discuss the circumstances and how best to proceed forward. After you complete your medical treatment, your lawyer can promptly file a personal injury claim on your behalf —usually with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Personal Injuries That Car Accident Victims Suffer
Victims of car accidents in the Alberta region may suffer serious injuries that lead to prolonged medical treatment, suffering, and pain. The injuries that an accident victim suffers depend on the accident, the force of the impact, and how their body moved in the car.
For example, a forceful hit from behind may cause the accident victim’s body to lurch forward and backward quickly, resulting in a soft tissue contusion or whiplash injury. These injuries are widespread in rear-end accidents where the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle. At other times, the force of an impact might cause a part of the accident victim’s body to hit something in the vehicle. For instance, the driver or passenger’s head might strike the headrest, window, door frame, dashboard, or steering wheel, resulting in an injury.
In addition to soft tissue whiplash-type injuries, car accident victims can sustain a broken bone, traumatic head injury, paralysis injury, or internal injury. They might also suffer injuries to the outside of their body, including lacerations and bruises. These injuries are common when the airbags deploy at the time of impact.
Before filing a personal injury claim, a car accident victim should complete the majority of their medical treatment. They should begin this medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident occurs. Waiting too long to seek medical treatment for car accident injuries can negatively impact a subsequent personal injury claim or lawsuit.
If the insurance company believes that the accident victim waited too long to treat, or if they did not treat continuously for their injuries, the adjuster handling the case will become skeptical. They might think that the accident victim’s claimed injuries were not all that serious or that the accident victim did not make their medical treatment a priority.
The best way to avoid this problem is for a car accident victim to go to the hospital emergency room on the day of the accident, obtain any necessary emergency treatment, and follow through with any recommended treatment. This might mean consulting with a specialist, family doctor, or physical therapist. The accident victim should continue treating their injuries until a health care provider or medical facility formally discharges them.
If you have suffered any of these injuries in a car accident, your lawyer can begin advocating for you even while you continue treatment. First, your lawyer can gather up all of your medical records, lost wage statements, injury photographs, and other documentation to prepare a settlement demand package for the insurance company. While your lawyer is handling the legal aspects of your claim, you can focus all of your attention on healing from your injuries.
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Alberta
Car accident victims in Alberta have a very short window of time to file a claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Under the statute of limitations, car accident victims only have two years from the date of their accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
If the accident victim fails to file their lawsuit within that two-year timeframe, they waive their right to recover damages. Moreover, if they or their lawyer file a lawsuit belatedly, the defense lawyer will likely file a motion to dismiss the case, and the court will dismiss the lawsuit in its entirety.
In other words, the accident victim plaintiff will not be eligible to recover any monetary compensation and damages for their injuries. This statute of limitations is a hard-and-fast rule, and there are very few, extremely limited exceptions.
To avoid the problem of late filing, car accident victims should retain a lawyer to represent them as soon as possible after their accident. The sooner that a lawyer becomes involved in their case, the better off it will turn out.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can promptly file a claim or lawsuit. If the statute of limitations is approaching, your lawyer can file a lawsuit to protect the statute from running.
Even after your lawyer files suit, they can still negotiate the personal injury claim on your behalf. If the case settles at some point along the way, it will not need to go to a jury trial in court.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
A car accident lawyer in your area can begin the claims-filing process once you complete the majority of your medical treatment. When your lawyer drafts a settlement demand letter to the insurance company, the filing process begins. The demand letter makes a monetary settlement demand within available insurance coverage limits.
A lawyer will send the demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurer in most instances. However, if the at-fault driver was uninsured at the time of the accident, or if they did not have sufficient coverage, the accident victim can involve their own insurance company—via an uninsured or an underinsured motorist claim.
In addition to submitting a settlement demand letter, a personal injury lawyer will create an entire demand package to send to the appropriate insurance company adjuster. In addition to the demand letter, the demand package will typically include photographs of the accident victim’s injuries, photographs that depict property damage, medical reports, lost wage statements, income tax returns, and a victim impact statement.
The insurance company adjuster will review all of this information and decide whether to accept liability for the accident. If the insurance company accepts fault, then the adjuster might make a settlement offer.
When settling a car accident claim, the insurance company is never advocating for you despite what they say in their advertisements. Instead, the insurance company’s goal is to offer you as little money as possible to resolve your claim. The insurance company wants to keep its money in-house to distribute to shareholders. It can’t do this by paying out a large personal injury settlement or jury verdict to you.
However, having a knowledgeable car accident lawyer on board in your case significantly streamlines the process. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company adjuster quickly and efficiently. When these negotiations produce a favorable settlement offer, and the accident victim decides to accept it, the case ends.
On the other hand, the accident victim’s lawyer can promptly file a lawsuit in court and begin the litigation process if the adjuster is unreasonable. Your lawyer can also help you decide whether you should accept the insurance company’s pre-suit settlement offer or litigate the case to a conclusion.
Recovering Damages for Car Accident Injuries
When a car accident victim files a timely personal injury claim or lawsuit, they become eligible to recover monetary damages. Not all car accidents are the same. Some accidents are more severe than others, and some accident victims sustain more severe injuries than others.
The compensation that an individual can recover in their car accident case will depend upon various factors, including the severity of their injuries, the extent of their medical treatment, the amount that they suffered, and the overall disruption to their life.
When accident victims have to miss time from work to recover from their injuries and seek medical treatment, they can pursue a lost wage claim. In serious car accidents where the accident victim suffers a permanent injury, they may be unable to return to work. Alternatively, they might need to switch careers or turn to light-duty work at a much lower pay rate. Under those circumstances, a car accident victim can file a claim for loss of earning capacity.
Car accident victims who suffer injuries can also file a claim for related pain, suffering, inconvenience, and mental distress. If they lose the use of a body part, such as through paralysis, they can bring a loss of use claim. Similarly, if they cannot enjoy social or recreational activities that they once enjoyed before the accident, they can bring a claim for lost quality of life.
The same is true if they cannot complete daily living tasks or household chores because of their injuries. Finally, car accident victims can bring a claim for loss of spousal companionship or consortium.
Contact a Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, a car accident lawyer can file a timely claim or lawsuit and pursue damages on your behalf. Your lawyer will fight for your right to recover full and fair monetary damages that fully compensate you for your injuries. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.