Despite what insurance company representatives say in their advertisements, insurers never advocate for you in a car accident claim. In fact, if you file a claim with an insurance company—even your own insurance company—they suddenly become your direct adversary. Some insurance company adjusters will withhold information and confuse you and make your life more difficult. Is the insurance adjuster not working for you?
After all, these adjusters represent large corporations and are trying to save them as much money as possible. Insurance companies make their money by collecting premiums from their insureds. They don’t like paying out insurance claims and settlements.
Since you are operating in an unequal power relationship with insurance company adjusters, it is essential that you have a knowledgeable car accident lawyer advocating for you throughout your personal injury claim. Your lawyer can help you file a claim and aggressively negotiate with settlement adjusters on your behalf.
Suppose the insurance company refuses to take your case seriously and does not offer you the compensation you deserve. In that case, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion. Moreover, your lawyer can safeguard your legal rights and ensure they remain protected during your pending claim or lawsuit.
When Can You File a Car Accident Claim?
You can file a car accident claim if you suffered injuries in an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence. Driver negligence can take many forms, but it usually involves the at-fault driver acting unreasonably under the circumstances. A negligent driver typically does something that a hypothetical “reasonable driver” would not do under similar circumstances. Alternatively, a driver is negligent when they refrain from doing something that a reasonable driver would do in the same situation.
Some of the most common forms of negligent driving include road rule violations, distracted driving, road rage, and intoxicated driving.
When drivers violate common road rules, they significantly increase their chances of causing an accident. Road rule violations that lead to severe accidents include speeding, failing to yield the right-of-way, tailgating, and failing to use turn signals at the proper times.
In addition to violating road rules, drivers become distracted when they fail to watch the road. Distracted driving also takes several forms, including playing with a cellular phone or another electronic device in the vehicle, listening to loud music in the car, or roughhousing with vehicle passengers. When a driver diverts their attention from the road, even for one or two seconds, that may be sufficient time for them to cause an accident and injure another driver or pedestrian.
Road rage is a driver’s overreaction to a perceived or actual situation that arises on the road. For example, one driver may become enraged with another driver when they drive too slowly. In response, the enraged driver might tailgate the other driver, weave in and out of traffic aggressively, or engage in other reckless driving maneuvers, inadvertently causing an accident.
Finally, some traffic accidents happen when drivers are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol, in particular, significantly impairs a driver’s ability to operate their vehicle safely, causes them to lose focus, and delays their reaction time.
The law considers a driver intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. Commercial truck drivers and minors under 21 years of age must follow stricter standards. Alberta imposes administrative sanctions if the driver’s BAC is 0.05 percent or higher. If an individual sustains a DUI conviction, they may incur criminal penalties, including jail time and fines. If they cause an accident while intoxicated, and one or more individuals suffer injuries, the responsible driver and their insurance company can incur civil penalties and have to pay damages.
Types of Accidents and Injuries that Negligent Drivers Cause
When drivers operate their vehicles recklessly, they can cause several types of accidents, including rear-end crashes, head-on collisions, sideswipe accidents, and T-bone accidents.
A rear-end accident happens when the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle. These accidents usually result from extreme tailgating and aggressive driving. On the other hand, head-on collisions typically happen on dual-lane highways with one travel lane in each direction. When a driver becomes distracted or intoxicated, they might negligently cause their vehicle to cross the dividing line or median strip, striking another vehicle head-on and causing severe injuries or fatalities.
Sideswipe accidents happen when the sides of two vehicles strike one another while traveling in the same direction. These accidents typically occur on multi-lane highways where a driver negligently causes their vehicle to drift into another travel lane. Finally, T-bone accidents, or broadside collisions, usually happen at traffic intersections where a driver runs a red light or stop sign.
When a driver negligently causes an accident, the driver and passengers in the other vehicle may sustain serious injuries. The injuries that an accident victim suffers will usually depend upon the severity of the impact—and the way in which their body moves in the vehicle during the crash. In some instances, a driver might suffer a whiplash injury if the impact force thrusts their body forward and backward abruptly.
Alternatively, if a part of the accident victim’s body strikes something in their vehicle, like the headrest, dashboard, steering wheel, or door frame, they might sustain a traumatic brain injury or bone fracture. At other times, accident victims might suffer internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, paralysis injuries, or death.
After your accident, you should seek medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. This step is crucial because it prevents your injuries from becoming worse over time. In addition, if you wait too long to treat your injuries, the insurance company handling your personal injury claim will likely become skeptical. Insurance adjusters typically assume that drivers who wait too long to treat do not suffer severe injuries in the first place. When adjusters take that view, they are unlikely to compensate accident victims fairly and reasonably for their injuries.
If you go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility right after your accident, a medical provider on duty can examine you and order the necessary imaging studies, including MRIs and X-rays, to render an accurate medical diagnosis. The provider can also recommend follow-up treatment with a primary care physician, orthopedist, neurologist, or another specialist. The provider may also refer you to a physical therapy facility.
While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your lawyer can start handling the legal components of your case. Specifically, they can gather up your medical treatment records to date, as well as lost wage statements from your employer, and begin assembling a settlement demand package for you. Once you finish all of your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit the demand package to the adjuster and start negotiating a claim settlement.
Common Misinformation that Some Insurance Adjusters Tell
When it comes time to deal with insurance company adjusters, you want to make sure that you have experienced legal representation on your side. Some adjusters spread misinformatio about personal injury claims and an accident victim’s legal rights.
After a car crash, you will usually deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You also need to deal with your own insurance company for your accident benefits and in the rare case where there is insufficient coverage by the Alberta Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund to cover your losses.
Some of the most common misinformation that some insurance company adjusters spread include:
- That you have to provide a recorded statement to the at-fault insurance company. In many instances, insurance company adjusters will tell accident victims that they must give a recorded statement. This is not true. In fact, a recorded statement is never a requirement for filing a claim or pursuing monetary compensation for your accident-related injuries. Insurance companies typically request recorded statements when there is a liability or fault issue in your case. Moreover, the insurance company’s only reason for taking your recorded statement is to see if they can “trip you up” and get you to say something damaging to your case. They will try and catch you off guard in an attempt to avoid paying you the compensation
- you deserve. You should never, under any circumstances, provide a recorded statement to the insurance company without having a lawyer present with you in person—or over the telephone or at least getting your lawyer’s permission to do so. Note that you do have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. However, if there is a request for a recorded statement from your own insurance company you should immediately discuss this with your lawyer.
- That a particular settlement offer is their “top” offer. If you negotiate with an insurance company adjuster long enough, they may get to a point where they tell you that a particular settlement offer is their “top” number. In almost all cases, this is not true, particularly when they’re dealing with you as a layperson. In fact, many insurance companies and their adjusters will not take a personal injury case seriously until the accident victim retains a lawyer or files a lawsuit in court. After that, they may increase their settlement offer significantly. Even when an adjuster indicates that a particular offer is their “top and final,” they usually have more money on the table.
- That your pre-existing injuries are a bar to your monetary recovery. When you claim injuries following a car accident, the insurance company will request not only your current medical treatment records but also past medical records for treatment you received previously. They will also look at X-rays and other imaging studies for degenerative findings and changes. In some instances, the insurance company may allege that your pre-existing injury or medical condition, rather than the subject car accident, is the actual cause of your current symptoms. They may even indicate that you are not eligible to recover monetary compensation for specific injuries. Oftentimes, however, this is not true, and you may recover damages when a car accident exacerbates your pre-existing injuries or medical condition or when there is a long enough break between when you last reported symptoms and complications and the accident.
- That you don’t need a lawyer to represent you. Especially in more minor claims, insurance company adjusters may indicate that you do not need a lawyer to represent you. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, the insurance company and their adjusters are your direct adversaries and will do everything possible to undervalue your claim and avoid paying you full compensation. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer is on your side and advocating for you and your legal interests. At a minimum, you should get an opinion from a lawyer to see if you really need to retain a lawyer.
Deadline to File a Car Accident Claim
Car accident victims have a limited period of time in which to file a lawsuit seeking monetary damages. Specifically, they have two years from their accident date to file suit in court. If they file their lawsuit even one day late, they waive their right to recover monetary damages for their injuries.
Given this short timeframe, it’s essential that you have a knowledgeable car accident lawyer advocating for you as early on in the process as possible. Your lawyer can promptly file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and immediately work towards recovering the monetary damages you deserve.
Recoverable Damages in Car Accident Insurance Claims
As part of a car accident claim, you may be eligible to recover various damages. The amount of compensation you recover will depend upon the severity of your injuries, the length of time you sought medical treatment, and whether or not you sustained a permanent injury in your auto crash.
To establish that a particular injury is permanent, a medical provider must state in a medical record, at a deposition, or at trial that your injury is unlikely to improve over time. Car accident victims who suffer permanent injuries may also experience ongoing symptoms for the rest of their life.
If an accident victim had to miss time from work to recover from their injuries and seek medical treatment, they might be eligible to recover their lost wages. In support of this claim, an accident victim will need to introduce records from their employer which establish the number of days they missed from work—and the amount of money they lost each day.
If they had to take a pay cut and switch to light-duty work, or a totally different job, they might be eligible to make a successful loss of earning capacity claim.
In addition to lost wage compensation, car accident victims can pursue damages for their mental distress, emotional anguish, permanent disability, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of use of a body part, and loss of life enjoyment.
An experienced car accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your accident and medical treatment with you and pursue the total amount of damages you deserve. If the insurance company does not compensate you fairly, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and, if necessary, take your case to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Near You Today
If you suffer injuries in a car accident that resulted from someone else’s negligence, you should never deal with the insurance company on your own. Doing so almost guarantees that you will receive far less money for your case than you deserve.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can advocate for you at every stage of your claim, from initial filing up through the end of litigation. Your lawyer will aggressively negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf and work to obtain fair and total compensation for your injuries. If the insurance company refuses to compensate you appropriately, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and litigate your case to a conclusion.
Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.