Serious car wrecks can lead to debilitating injuries and extensive medical treatment for drivers and passengers alike. However, accident victims must take swift legal action as quickly as possible after their car accident. This is due to the statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for filing personal injury claims and lawsuits against at-fault drivers.
Failing to take proper legal action in your case may jeopardize your right to recover any monetary compensation for your injuries.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area will understand the statute of limitations and be aware of the expiration date applicable to your specific case. Your lawyer can promptly file a lawsuit for you and immediately begin pursuing the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries.
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What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations serves as a time deadline by when an accident victim must file a lawsuit in a particular type of case. The statute of limitations deadline will depend upon the type of case that you are filing.
Car accidents fall under the umbrella of personal injury law. A car accident victim who suffers injuries in a crash resulting from someone else’s negligence has two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages. Although your lawyer will file this lawsuit against the at-fault driver, the other driver’s insurance company will likely cover the monetary compensation.
The two-year statute of limitations deadline for personal injury cases is strict. The statute will expire precisely two years after the accident date outside exceptional circumstances. If a car crash victim tries to file a lawsuit for monetary damages after the expiration date, the courts will dismiss their claim. As a result, the accident victim will no longer be eligible to recover monetary compensation and damages for their car wreck injuries.
Several exceptions apply to this two-year deadline, including:
- Where the car accident victim is a child at the time of the accident, in which case the statute does not begin running until the child reaches 18
- Where the accident victim suffers from a disability at the time of injury
A shorter time limit applies if the accident resulted from an unknown motorist. In that instance, the accident victim must notify the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund within 90 days.
Given the extremely short statute of limitations, you should retain skilled legal counsel to represent you in your case as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can immediately file a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf, especially if the statute of limitations is about to run out.
Your lawyer can then assist you throughout the litigation process and help you obtain favorable settlement compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If that does not happen, your lawyer can assist you with litigation in court.
What Are Some Common Car Accident Injuries?
Car crashes come in various shapes and sizes. While some car accident victims suffer only minor injuries, like cuts and scratches, others may wind up in wheelchairs or a long-term care facility for the rest of their life.
Generally speaking, the more forceful a car wreck, the more serious the injuries that vehicle occupants will suffer. In addition, when a violent collision happens, the accident victim’s body may strike something in the vehicle, like the window, headrest, or steering wheel, leading to debilitating injuries.
Some car accident injuries are permanent, meaning that a medical provider determines they are unlikely to get better with time. Drivers and passengers who suffer permanent injuries in their car accidents may experience ongoing pain, suffering, and other symptoms for the rest of their life.
Common injuries that car accident victims may suffer include cuts, bruises, road rash, soft tissue contusions, whiplash, internal organ damage, bone fractures, rib fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic head injuries, paralysis, and death.
One of the best ways to prevent injuries from becoming worse is to seek immediate medical treatment after your car accident. Seeking prompt medical treatment also demonstrates the seriousness of your injuries to the insurance company handling your case. In other words, the insurance company is more likely to take your case seriously and offer you significant monetary compensation if they believe your medical treatment was warranted, given your injuries.
In addition to seeking medical treatment early on, you should retain skilled legal counsel to represent you as quickly as possible in your case. While you attend medical appointments and focus on getting better, your lawyer can request your medical records, obtain copies of police reports and other investigative documents, and gather necessary lost wage documentation from your employer.
The settlement process can begin once you complete your medical treatment and the insurance company accepts fault for your accident.
How do Car Accidents Happen?
Car crashes have several potential causes. However, in most circumstances, driver negligence plays a part in the accident.
Drivers have a duty to drive in a prudent, careful, and safe manner at all times. Consequently, they must obey all traffic regulations, including turn signal laws, right-of-way laws, and speed limits, to ensure they drive as safely as possible. When drivers deviate from their legal duty of care, they become more likely to cause a traffic accident that seriously injures other drivers and passengers.
Besides traffic law violations, some traffic accidents happen when drivers exhibit road rage. Road rage is a driver’s inappropriate response to a set of roadway circumstances, some of which may even be imaginary. Drivers often experience road rage when they are in a hurry and another driver is moving slower than they want to drive.
Enraged drivers might honk horns, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, and perform other aggressive driving maneuvers to get ahead of other traffic. Often in the process, however, they end up striking another vehicle and causing the occupants to suffer injuries.
Traffic accidents also sometimes occur when drivers fail to watch the road. This failure is frequently called distracted driving or inattentive driving. A driver is inattentive when they take their eyes off the road or look down, even for a short period. Some drivers become distracted when they roughhouse with vehicle passengers, listen to loud music in their vehicle, adjust the stereo, or send a text message on their cellular device.
When drivers become distracted while behind the wheel, they might fail to see an approaching pedestrian, bicyclist, or vehicle driver, causing an accident and serious injuries.
Fatigued driving is another common cause of car wrecks. Many drivers, including commercial truck drivers, drive long periods without taking breaks. In the case of commercial truck drivers, trucking companies often push drivers beyond their limits to stay ahead of schedule. When people drive while fatigued, they may experience delayed reaction time or delayed reflexes. They can also fall asleep at the wheel, causing their vehicle to careen out of control and strike another vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian.
Finally, some traffic accidents happen because of DUI or drunk driving. Operating a vehicle while under the illegal influence of alcohol may subject an offending driver to criminal penalties upon conviction. Moreover, the drunk driver or their insurance company may have to pay civil damages if the drunk driver causes an accident that leads to injuries.
Alcohol and drugs can impair a driver’s mindset and concentration. Alcohol, in particular, may affect a driver’s reflexes and reaction time. Consequently, the driver may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to prevent a crash.
If you suffered injuries in a recent car wreck that another driver caused, you should seek legal counsel right away to explain your options. Your lawyer can help you determine the best course of action to pursue in your personal injury claim or lawsuit and execute those options on your behalf. Your lawyer’s primary goal will be to help you maximize the total monetary recovery you receive from your car accident case.
Will I Have to Deal With the Insurance Company after a Car Crash?
One of the main reasons to have motor vehicle insurance coverage in place is that compensation is available for property damage, injuries, and other accident-related losses. If you sustained physical injuries in a car crash that resulted from another driver’s negligence, your lawyer will typically deal with the other driver’s insurance company.
However, if the driver who hit you did not have insurance, or if they did not have sufficient insurance to compensate you for your losses, you can pursue an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. These types of claims are called first-party claims.
Alternatively, you might need to pursue a claim through the Alberta Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC). This program provides up to $200,000 worth of insurance coverage when accident victims sustain injuries in a crash where no insurance coverage is available. For example, if a driver suffers injuries in a phantom vehicle accident, where the responsible driver leaves the accident scene, the accident victim can pursue coverage through MVAC.
However, if you are dealing with an insurance company, such as the at-fault driver’s insurer, a skilled car accident lawyer can handle all dealings with settlement adjusters. Representing yourself in a car accident claim or lawsuit is a serious mistake.
In fact, insurance companies and their adjusters routinely take advantage of self-represented car accident victims, believing them to lack the necessary negotiation and litigation skills. When an insurance company sees that an accident victim is representing themselves in a case, they will usually make lowball offers and try to resolve the case for as little monetary compensation as possible.
A skilled car accident lawyer can negotiate with insurance company adjusters routinely throughout your case, constantly pursuing the maximum amount of monetary compensation that you deserve to recover. If the insurance company does not offer you sufficient monetary damages, your lawyer can prepare a lawsuit and file it with the court system, beginning the litigation process.
Do Most Car Accident Cases Settle?
As with other personal injury cases, the vast majority of car accident claims and lawsuits settle out of court before they proceed to trial. A car accident settlement occurs when the insurance company places a monetary offer on the table that the accident victim chooses to accept.
After accepting the offer, the accident victim will sign a release agreeing that the matter has reached its final resolution. Moreover, they will not be eligible to file another claim or lawsuit for monetary compensation arising out of the same accident.
Car accident claims may not settle for two reasons. First, the insurance company may dispute fault for the case, in which instance the matter will likely proceed to trial. At other times, the insurance company adjuster may refuse to offer the accident victim sufficient monetary compensation. When that happens, the parties may take their case to a civil jury trial.
At a trial, the jury will decide the types and amounts of monetary compensation to award the accident victim. Instead of taking a case to trial, the parties may agree to pursue alternative dispute resolution, like binding arbitration or mediation.
A reasonable monetary award should compensate you for your lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, inconvenience, mental distress, and pain and suffering.
A car crash lawyer in your area can help you decide whether you should settle or litigate your case, depending upon the surrounding circumstances. If you decide to litigate your case in the court system, your lawyer will represent you at every stage of the proceedings and aggressively fight for your right to the monetary damages you deserve.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area for Legal Help Today
If you sustained injuries in a recent car accident, you should take the appropriate legal action as quickly as possible. Waiting too long to file a claim or lawsuit arising from your accident may jeopardize your right to recover monetary damages in your case. Therefore, the sooner you retain skilled legal counsel to represent you, the higher your chances of receiving favorable monetary compensation.
Your lawyer will be well aware of the statute of limitations in your case and can file a lawsuit right away if the statute is about to run. Your personal injury lawyers in Edmonton can then litigate your case and recover the monetary damages you need.