Getting Paid After a Car Accident
If you have suffered injuries in a car crash because of another driver’s negligence, you have a legal right to pursue and recover various damages. You can retrieve this compensation by filing a car accident claim—usually with the at-fault driver’s insurance company—or a lawsuit against the responsible driver.
One of the most critical steps to take after a car crash is to retain a knowledgeable car accident lawyer to represent you. If you pursue a car accident claim without legal representation, the insurance company will take advantage of you and try to settle your claim for as little money as possible. On the other hand, a lawyer will work hard on your behalf to obtain the highest compensation possible.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will know how to negotiate effectively with the insurance company adjuster to get you the money you deserve following your collision. If the insurance company does not offer you fair monetary compensation, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in the court system and litigate your case to a conclusion. If your case goes to trial, a jury will decide the issue of damages, while at binding arbitration, the arbitrator will determine the final damage award.
Potential Car Accident Injuries
Many car accidents leave their victims seriously injured and debilitated. The injuries that a car accident victim will suffer often depend upon the type of accident, the force of the collision, and how the accident victim’s body moved inside the vehicle. The power of some crashes is so forceful that a part of the accident victim’s body strikes something in the vehicle, like the steering wheel, headrest, or window, leading to a severe injury.
Typical car accident injuries include traumatic brain damage, bone fractures, soft tissue injuries, internal injuries, and spinal cord damage. These injuries often require extensive medical treatment and leave the accident victim in tremendous pain.
As soon as possible after your car crash, you should seek medical attention at a local urgent care center or hospital emergency room. If you fail to seek same-day medical treatment, it can hurt your car accident case. Specifically, the insurance company adjuster handling the claim might believe that your injuries were minor or that you did not give your medical treatment the highest priority. You should also attend treatment continuously for your injuries and wait for a healthcare provider to formally discharge you—rather than discharging yourself from treatment.
As you continue your medical treatment, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can begin the claims-filing process on your behalf. Your lawyer will start obtaining your medical records, lost wage documentation, police reports, eyewitness statements, and other vital paperwork to send to the insurance company. Once your treatment is over, the adjuster can evaluate all of these documents, and your lawyer can begin negotiating a favourable settlement on your behalf.
What Are Common Causes of Car Crashes?
Many car crashes happen because of driver error. However, driver negligence is not the only cause. Crashes often occur when drivers violate the rules of the road, such as by failing to yield the right-of-way, speeding, tailgating, and engaging in other forms of aggressive driving like road rage.
Car accidents also happen when drivers ignore the road. The driver might be looking at a GPS or other electronic device, roughhousing with passengers in the car, or listening to loud music, instead of watching the road. These distractions can divert a driver’s attention away from the road and prevent them from seeing an oncoming vehicle.
Finally, some car crashes happen when drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These substances can alter a driver’s focus and slow down their reaction time. Consequently, an intoxicated driver might be unable to stop their vehicle before a crash occurs. They might also suffer various physical impairments, such as blurry vision, that can prevent them from driving safely.
When a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent, the law considers them intoxicated. However, even if they have a lower BAC, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are fit to drive. Lower legal limits also apply to commercial drivers, as well as to minors who are under 21 years of age.
In addition to the criminal penalties associated with a drunk driving conviction, an intoxicated driver who causes an accident is civilly responsible for the accident consequences.
When a negligent driver operates their vehicle within the scope of employment, their employer can also share responsibility for the accident.
Not all car accidents result from driver negligence. These crashes sometimes occur because of defective vehicle parts and negligent repair work. Manufacturers of car parts, including seatbelts, airbags, tires, steering wheels, and braking systems, must manufacture and design safe products.
They must also take the necessary precautions and thoroughly test their products before making them available to the public. The accident victim can legally hold the manufacturer or distributor responsible when a manufacturing or design defect causes or contributes to a car crash.
Similarly, car repair facilities must perform their work reasonably and carefully. If negligent repair work causes a vehicle to malfunction on the road, leading to an accident, the accident victim can hold the repair facility liable. To establish that a repair facility’s negligence caused or contributed to a car accident, the accident victim will typically need to introduce testimony from an expert witness to support that conclusion.
If you have suffered injuries in a car crash caused by another person or entity’s carelessness, you have legal options. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can bring a claim or file a lawsuit against all potentially responsible parties, helping you to recover the money you deserve for your injuries.
Filing a Claim With the At-fault Driver’s Insurer
The first step to getting paid after a car crash is filing a claim with the appropriate insurance company. If you suffered injuries in an accident that resulted from another driver’s negligence, your lawyer will usually file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
If that driver did not have insurance at the time of the accident, or if they did not have adequate insurance, you can pursue an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. However, in most instances, your lawyer will first deal with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
The claims-filing process begins when your lawyer submits a settlement demand letter and a demand package on your behalf. The letter will make a specific demand for a monetary settlement within the available insurance coverage limits.
Your lawyer will send various documents as part of the settlement demand package, including a demand letter. These documents typically include copies of your medical reports, wage loss statements, police reports, eyewitness statements, victim impact statements, injuries, and property damage photographs.
Once the insurance company adjuster reviews these documents, they will decide on liability. In other words, they will decide whether to accept fault for the accident. If they do, the settlement negotiation process can begin. Your lawyer will pursue the maximum compensation available for you and work so you obtain a fair recovery for your injuries.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
In some instances, insurance companies refuse to offer car accident victims the damages they deserve in their car accident cases. When you think about it, insurance companies want to settle these cases cheaply. After all, they are big businesses and do not make money by paying out large car accident settlements, arbitration awards, or jury verdicts.
Instead, they make money by collecting premiums from their insureds and keeping as much of that money in-house as possible. The insurance company has no incentive to compensate you fairly, and they will take advantage of you if you do not have legal representation.
Your lawyer can aggressively negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. If the adjuster refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court. Even after filing suit, your lawyer can still negotiate a settlement if you decide to accept it. Otherwise, the case will proceed to the settlement conference and trial date. If the case goes to trial, the jury will decide the damages issue—including the compensation amount to award you for your injuries.
As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties might agree to alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration. Your lawyer can help you decide whether you should accept a settlement, litigate your case in court, or pursue alternative dispute resolution.
What Are Time Deadlines in a Car Accident Case?
Victims of car crashes do not have unlimited time to file a lawsuit. In places like Alberta, car accident victims only have two years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit, absent exceptional circumstances. Since those exceptions rarely apply, you should assume that two years is the hard-and-fast deadline.
If you fail to file a lawsuit within that deadline, you will be unable to pursue monetary compensation at any later time. Therefore, the sooner you get an experienced car accident lawyer on board in your case, the better off you will be. Your lawyer can file a timely lawsuit in the court system for you, protecting your right to recover monetary compensation for your car accident injuries.
Potential Damages in Car Accident Cases
All car accident cases are different, and the damages that an accident victim recovers will vary from one case to another. Damages typically depend on the severity of the accident victim’s injuries and whether or not they are permanent.
To be eligible for damages, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof in their case. Therefore, they have to establish all of the legal elements, including fault on another driver’s part. They must also show, through medical testimony, that their injuries directly resulted from the accident. Once they establish these elements, they are eligible to recover damages for their injuries and other accident consequences.
First, if the accident victim had to miss time from work to seek medical treatment, they can bring a claim for lost wages. To prove lost wages, accident victims typically need documentation from their employer showing how many days they missed from work and the amount they made per day or week. They may also need to show documents from a healthcare provider that required them to take off work.
Some car accident victims suffer such severe injuries that they cannot return to the same job after their accident. They may need to switch to light-duty work or switch careers altogether, often at a lower pay rate. When that happens, the accident victim can bring a claim for loss of earning capacity.
In addition, car accident victims can pursue monetary recovery for their pain, suffering, inconvenience, emotional anguish, and mental distress stemming from their injuries. If the injury paralyzes them or causes another permanent impairment, they can bring a claim for loss of the ability to use a body part. Finally, if their activity levels decreased following the accident, they can bring a claim for loss of life enjoyment.
An experienced car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident with you and help you maximize the compensation that you recover.
Talk With an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
Car accidents can leave many people injured, confused, and unsure of where to turn next. A skilled car accident lawyer can answer your legal questions and explore all of your options. Your lawyer can then help you obtain the monetary compensation you deserve through settlement or litigation, so do not wait to begin the process. Contact a personal injury lawyer today to get your consultation.