In any personal injury claim arising from a car accident, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. To recover monetary damages, the accident victim must establish several legal elements by introducing evidence throughout their case.
Accident victims may introduce witness testimony, police investigation reports, injury photographs, property damage photographs, and medical treatment records as evidence.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can help you obtain the evidence you need to legally prove your case and recover the fair monetary damages you deserve. Your lawyer can then introduce this evidence at the proper time and pursue the highest monetary award available to you in your car accident claim or lawsuit.
Car Accidents and Their Causes
Most car crashes occur when people drive carelessly or without paying attention to the road. Instead of watching the road attentively, a driver might be looking at a cell phone or GPS navigation system.
Alternatively, they might be eating, drinking, grooming themselves in the rearview mirror, or reaching for something across the car. Any of these activities may take a driver’s attention off the road, causing them to miss seeing another vehicle or pedestrian nearby.
Car accidents can also happen when people drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These substances may cause drivers to lose focus, limit their reflexes, and delay their reaction time. Consequently, when a driver is under the influence, they may be unable to hit their brakes fast enough to avoid striking another vehicle or pedestrian.
Passenger vehicle drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent are legally intoxicated. Commercial drivers have much less leeway, as their legal limit is 0.04 percent BAC. Underage drivers must not have any alcohol in their system while behind the wheel.
A driver who violates DUI laws and obtains a conviction in court may incur criminal penalties, including monetary fines and jail time. In addition, they may have to pay civil damages through their insurance company if they cause an accident that leads to another driver or passenger’s injuries.
Car accidents also happen when reckless drivers exhibit various types of road rage. Road rage is a driver’s inappropriate reaction to a roadway situation. For example, an enraged driver may become upset with another driver for moving too slowly. As a result, the irate driver might tailgate the other driver, fail to use their turn signals, or aggressively weave around traffic to get ahead. However, these aggressive driving maneuvers sometimes lead to serious traffic accidents, which may involve multiple collisions or pile-ups.
Traffic accidents may also happen when drivers fail to use their mirrors and backup cameras at the proper times. Drivers should always look into their rearview and side view mirrors when backing out of a parking space and while driving and switching lanes. When drivers fail to use their mirrors at the appropriate times, they may fail to see a pedestrian or another vehicle, bringing about a severe crash.
Finally, some car accidents result from other traffic law violations, such as speeding and failing to yield the right-of-way to other drivers – including motorcyclists and bicyclists – in certain circumstances.
- Head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles hit one another
- Sideswipe accidents, where the sides of two vehicles travelling alongside one another collide
- T-bone or broadside accidents, where one vehicle hits the side of another car, such as at a traffic intersection where the at-fault driver runs a red light, stop sign, or yield sign
- Rear-end accidents, where the front of one vehicle hits the rear of another car.
If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents because another driver violated the law, you may have legal options that you can consider. A car accident lawyer can go over these options with you, help you decide on the best course of action to follow in your case and prepare a claim to file with the appropriate insurance company.
After filing a claim, your lawyer can begin settlement negotiations on your behalf and pursue the maximum monetary award you deserve to recover in your case.
Injuries that Frequently Result from Car Crashes
Irresponsible drivers often cause car crashes that lead to debilitating and permanent injuries for other drivers and their passengers. Since every car accident’s circumstances differ, the injuries an accident victim sustains will usually differ as well. In general, the more vehicles involved and the stronger the force, the more likely an accident victim will sustain permanent injuries in their accident.
A victim might also hit various parts of the interior of their vehicle during the crash, even with seat belts and airbags. For example, the force of a collision may cause an accident victim’s head to strike the window, steering wheel, or headrest, causing a concussion or other traumatic head injury.
Additional injuries that car crash victims may suffer include internal organ injuries, internal bleeding, bruises, open lacerations, soft tissue neck and back injuries, knee injuries, shoulder injuries, spinal cord damage, and full or partial paralysis.
One of the best ways to ensure that you fully recover from your injuries is to seek prompt medical treatment and follow an ongoing treatment plan. Therefore, you should attend all your medical appointments and avoid significant treatment gaps. Otherwise, the insurance company handling your claim may become skeptical of your injuries and determine that your claim does not warrant substantial monetary compensation.
While you focus your attention on treating your injuries, your lawyer can begin handling the legal business in your case and recovering the documents and other evidence you need to satisfy your legal burden of proof. For example, your lawyer can begin gathering police reports, witness statements, and medical treatment records and start assembling a settlement demand package to forward to the insurance company on your behalf.
What Must I Prove to Collect Damages?
In every personal injury claim or lawsuit involving a car crash, the victim has the legal burden of proof. Therefore, they must establish several legal elements to recover monetary damages in their case. First, they must demonstrate that the at-fault driver owed them a legal duty of care. In most car accident scenarios, this element is a given since all drivers have a duty to follow traffic laws and regulations that are on the books.
Next, an injured car crash victim must establish that the other driver violated a traffic law or otherwise behaved negligently or recklessly. For example, the other driver might have broken the speed limit or driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash.
In addition, the accident victim must demonstrate that as a direct result of the other driver’s negligence, the accident occurred, and they suffered one or more physical injuries. Property damage alone is insufficient to prove a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
To establish these legal elements, a car accident lawyer can help you gather and introduce the necessary evidence in your case. If your case goes to trial or binding arbitration, your lawyer can submit that evidence at the appropriate time and help you pursue a favourable result in your case.
Taking a Car Accident Case to Trial
Most car accident claims resolve at some point before a jury trial or arbitration proceeding. However, if the insurance company refuses to take the case seriously and will not offer an accident victim the monetary compensation they deserve, the accident victim’s lawyer may have no choice but to take the case to a civil jury trial.
At a jury trial, the jury will listen to all of the evidence that the parties and their lawyers present and will decide the outcome of all disputed issues in the case, such as liability and monetary damages.
In most instances, both sides still dispute monetary damages at the time of a jury trial.
During deliberation, the jury will decide what, if any, financial compensation to award the accident victim for their injuries and other losses.
As an alternative to a jury trial, the parties may consider alternative dispute resolution or ADR.
For example, the parties can use a mediator to help facilitate settlement discussions in their case and bring them closer to a settlement agreement.
They may also pursue binding arbitration in their case rather than a jury trial. Binding arbitration removes some of the uncertainty associated with a jury trial and allows a neutral, third-party arbitrator to decide monetary compensation in the case.
Recovering Monetary Damages in a Car Accident Case
Accident victims who suffer injuries due to another driver’s negligence may receive monetary damages. Generally, the more serious an accident victim’s injuries, the more likely they will recover significant monetary damages in their case.
Other factors that influence a damage award in a car accident claim include the specific accident circumstances, the number of collisions, and the amount of force involved in the accident.
Car accident victims may receive monetary damages for all of their:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
A car accident lawyer will do everything they can to help you maximize your total damages, either through a favourable monetary settlement or litigation result.
An insurance company might tell you what your claim is worth, but you should never take their word. Insurers want you to accept as little as possible, so they will often grossly undervalue your losses. Never accept a settlement offer without having a car accident lawyer review it and advise you whether it is fair.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer Right Away
Following a severe car accident, the last thing an accident victim wants to worry about is the legal components of their case. Fortunately, that is where a lawyer can help.
A car accident lawyer in Edmonton can begin investigating the circumstances of your accident right away and start gathering the evidence necessary to prove your claim or lawsuit.
Your lawyer can then assist you during all settlement negotiations or, if necessary, take your case to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
At those proceedings, your personal injury lawyer in Edmonton may introduce evidence and help you pursue the highest monetary award possible in your case.