What can a lawyer do for you after a car accident? If you suffered injuries in a car crash, you must have a knowledgeable car accident lawyer on your side advocating for you. If you handle your personal injury claim on your own—and without legal representation—the at-fault driver’s insurance company will almost certainly take advantage of you.
The insurance company adjuster will assume that you do not have the necessary skills to negotiate a favorable settlement, file a lawsuit, or litigate your case in the court system if that becomes necessary. Consequently, the adjuster will likely offer you far less than your car accident claim is worth.
Generally speaking, the earlier you retain a car accident lawyer to represent you, the better off you will be. Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your car accident and determine who caused it.
If the at-fault driver’s insurer accepts fault for the accident, your lawyer can file a claim and negotiate a fair settlement offer on your behalf. If the insurance company does not compensate you fully and fairly for your car accident injuries, your lawyer can file a lawsuit, litigate your case in the court system, and bring it to an efficient resolution.
How do Car Accidents Happen?
In most instances, car accidents happen because of another driver’s negligence. Some of the most common causes of car crashes include road rule violations, intoxicated driving, distracted driving, and road rage.
When drivers violate traffic regulations, they increase their chances of causing an accident.
Common violations that cause crashes include:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate time.
- Driving too fast for weather and traffic conditions.
- Breaking the speed limit.
- Failing to use turn signals.
- Tailgating other motorists.
At other times, car accidents happen when drivers operate their vehicles while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and slows down the central nervous system’s ability to function. Consequently, the intoxicated driver may experience physical symptoms that prevent them from driving safely, such as delayed reaction time.
If a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, they are legally intoxicated. Alberta imposes administrative sanctions if a driver’s BAC is 0.05 percent or higher. Commercial truck drivers and minors who are under 21 years old must follow stricter standards. If a driver sustains a conviction for DUI, they may face criminal penalties, including monetary fines and jail time. Moreover, if they cause a traffic accident that leads to others suffering injuries, they and their insurance companies may be responsible for paying damages.
Distracted driving is another common cause of car accidents. A driver is distracted when they fail to observe the road. The driver might be programming a GPS device, listening to loud music in their vehicle, or reading a text message on their phone or tablet. When a driver turns their head away from the road and starts focusing on something else, they might miss a pedestrian or vehicle in the vicinity, causing a serious crash.
Finally, some car accidents happen because of road rage. Road rage is a driver’s response to a real or perceived circumstance that arises on the road. Many drivers are in a hurry to get to their final destination. Consequently, they resort to speeding, tailgating, and other aggressive driving maneuvers. When that happens, the driver might inadvertently cause a collision with another vehicle, resulting in serious injuries.
When drivers operate their vehicles negligently, they may cause a rear-end accident, head-on collision, T-bone crash, or sideswipe accident.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that a reckless or negligent driver caused, you have legal options you can pursue. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can help you pursue an investigation and file a claim or lawsuit that seeks the monetary damages you deserve.
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Common Injuries That Car Crash Victims Suffer
Car crash injuries often require significant medical treatment and may impact an accident victim for the remainder of their life. The injuries that a crash victim will suffer depend upon both the impact force—and the way in which the accident victim’s body moves in the car. The impact force might thrust the accident victim’s body backward and forward or from side to side, causing whiplash and other soft tissue contusions.
Alternatively, a part of the accident victim’s body might strike something in their vehicle, such as the headrest, door frame, dashboard, window, or steering wheel, causing a broken bone or traumatic head and brain injury. Finally, the impact force may be so strong that it ejects the accident victim’s body from the car, causing them to suffer cuts, bruises, spinal cord injuries, paralysis injuries, and even death.
As soon as possible after a car accident, you should seek medical treatment at a local urgent care facility or hospital emergency room. The medical provider on duty can review your symptoms with you, order imaging studies, and make a complete medical diagnosis. If you require future treatment, such as a surgical procedure or physical therapy, your provider can make those recommendations to you. You must also be sure to attend all follow-up treatment appointments.
If you delay your medical treatment, fail to treat continuously for your injuries, or self-discharge from medical care, the insurance company adjuster handling your claim will become skeptical. Most adjusters assume that accident victims who fail to seek prompt medical treatment did not suffer serious injuries in their crashes. Consequently, they will limit the monetary compensation they offer you to settle your personal injury case.
While you concentrate on treating and recovering from your injuries, a car accident lawyer in your area can start handling the preliminary aspects of your claim, including gathering your medical reports and lost wage documents, assembling a settlement demand package, and drafting a demand letter for the insurance company adjuster’s review and evaluation.
Recoverable Monetary Damages in Car Accident Claims
If you suffered injuries in a car accident that someone else caused, you might be eligible to recover certain damages in your case. Not all car accidents are the same, and different accident victims will recover various types and amounts of damages. The monetary compensation that a car accident victim recovers typically depends upon the extent of their medical treatment, the extent of their injuries, whether or not they suffered a permanent injury, and whether or not they missed work time.
Compensable damages in car accident claims include:
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of use of a body part
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of spousal support
Your lawyer will work hard to pursue the maximum amount of compensation you need for all of your car accident injuries.
How an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Assist You Throughout Your Claim
In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after your accident, your next step should be to contact a knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area. Having a lawyer on board in your case significantly increases your chances of recovering a favorable settlement or litigation compensation.
Investigating the Circumstances of Your Accident
First, a car accident lawyer in your area can investigate the circumstances of your accident and determine if you are eligible to file a personal injury claim in the first place. Your lawyer can request a copy of the police report and any eyewitness statements. Your lawyer can also speak to eyewitnesses who saw the accident firsthand.
If the insurance company is disputing the fault for your accident, your lawyer can hire an accident reconstructionist or other expert who can review all of the evidence, piece it together, and determine exactly how the car accident occurred—and who caused it.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
Next, your lawyer can file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your lawyer can gather up your lost wage documents and medical treatment records to date, along with photographs of your injuries, property damage photographs, and your victim impact statement. Your lawyer can also draft a settlement demand letter on your behalf.
Once you complete all of your medical treatment, your lawyer can submit the final demand package to the insurance company adjuster. If the adjuster accepts fault for the accident, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations in your case.
Negotiating with the Claims Adjuster
If the adjuster accepts fault for the accident, your lawyer can begin negotiating a favorable settlement on your behalf. In most instances, the first settlement offer that an adjuster puts on the table is far below the actual value of your personal injury claim. Insurance adjusters try to save their insurance companies money by settling their claims for as little money as possible. By making a low first offer, the insurance company adjuster is hoping that the accident victim is in a hurry to settle their claim.
However, an experienced car accident lawyer on your side can aggressively negotiate with the insurance company adjuster on your behalf and pursue an increased offer amount. It typically takes several rounds of negotiations between the adjuster and the accident victim’s lawyer before the adjuster will increase their offer meaningfully. If that does not happen, your lawyer can threaten a lawsuit and, if necessary, actually file the lawsuit in court.
Filing a Lawsuit with the Court
Filing a lawsuit formally begins the litigation process. However, your lawyer may continue negotiating with the insurance company adjuster even after filing suit in your case.
Once the case is in the court system, a defense lawyer will enter their appearance on the at-fault driver’s behalf. The court will also establish dates and deadlines for the case, and the parties will engage in discovery. Discovery is an opportunity for the parties to learn about each other’s respective versions of the case, including the types and amounts of damage that the accident victim claims they deserve.
The defense lawyer will also likely take the accident victim’s discovery deposition. Your lawyer will thoroughly prepare you to testify at an out-of-court deposition, helping you make the best possible presentation. Once discovery is complete, the insurance company will usually re-evaluate the claim and decide if they will increase their most recent settlement offer.
Taking Your Case to Trial
If the case does not resolve during litigation, the parties will take their case to a jury trial. At a trial, the jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues, including the amount of monetary compensation to award the accident victim. Your lawyer will represent you at all court proceedings, including your jury trial, and make the necessary arguments and objections on your behalf.
Pursuing Alternative Dispute Resolution in Your Case
In some instances, the parties may agree to pursue alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration, instead of trial. In some instances, alternative dispute resolution can garner a more favorable result than a jury trial verdict.
During mediation, for example, a neutral mediator meets with the parties and facilitates settlement discussions to try and bring them closer to settling their case. At a binding arbitration hearing, a neutral arbitrator will listen to the evidence that the parties’ lawyers present. They will then decide the types and amounts of damages to award the accident victim. Your lawyer will represent you at all mediation and arbitration hearings in your case and aggressively fight for your legal interests there.
Speak to an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
If you suffered injuries in a car crash, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can be an invaluable asset to your personal injury claim or lawsuit. In addition to investigating the accident circumstances, your lawyer can take on the insurance company directly and help you pursue the full amount of damages you deserve.
If the insurance company refuses to take your personal injury case seriously and offers you fair value, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and litigate it to a conclusion. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize the damages you recover via settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration hearing.
Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.