Car accidents can lead to serious injuries and can leave accident victims debilitated—and in many cases traumatized—for a long time. If you have suffered injuries in a car crash, always safeguard your right to compensation by speaking with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer.
You want a lawyer familiar with all of Alberta’s laws regarding car accidents, such as the Alberta Insurance Act, the Standard Automobile Policy, and section B benefits. Once you retain a lawyer to represent you in your car accident case, they can begin gathering documents and can prepare to file a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company on your behalf.
Your car accident lawyer can then work to help you maximize the monetary compensation you recover for the injuries you suffered in the accident.
Call Emergency Personnel to the Scene
After a motor vehicle crash, call emergency services to the scene if you are injured. In addition to summoning the police, emergency services may send a fire truck and ambulance. Once emergency services arrive, speak with the responding police officer. If the police officer or paramedics ask how you are feeling, you should describe your symptoms at that time.
When you speak with the police officer about the accident, you should provide a complete description of how the accident occurred and exactly what you remember. That way, the police officer can prepare a report regarding the accident. In the police report, the officer will typically include the positions of the vehicles, along with a narrative description of how the accident occurred.
Moreover, the police officer can assess possible fault and indicate whether or not they need to issue tickets to one or more of the involved drivers. This police report can become extremely important when it comes time to determine fault for the accident in a personal injury case. You should request a copy of any police report that the officer prepares following the accident.
Obtain Information From the Other Drivers Who Were Involved in the Collision
In addition to calling emergency services and speaking with the responding police officer, speak with the other driver or drivers in the motor vehicle collision. Specifically, obtain their contact and insurance information. If you have a smartphone or another electronic device with you, take a screenshot of the other drivers’ insurance cards.
Most importantly, when discussing the collision with other involved drivers, you should never admit fault or even say that you contributed to the accident. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will use this against you later. Do not apologize for the accident or indicate what you may have done immediately beforehand.
Take Pictures at the Collision Scene
In addition to speaking with the responding police officer and other involved drivers at the collision scene, you or someone on your behalf should photograph the scene and property damage. Take photographs of any property damage to your vehicle, as well as to the other vehicles. Capture the vehicle positions in case a dispute later arises as to exactly how the collision occurred.
If you sustain any visible injuries, take pictures of them. These include scratches, bruises, and open cuts/lacerations that you may have sustained. Often, drivers and passengers suffer bruises because of seatbelts or airbags that deploy at the point of impact. Take photographs of those injuries also.
Speak With Eyewitnesses
It is also essential that you speak with any eyewitnesses who may have observed the crash and seen exactly what occurred. An eyewitness, for example, might establish that a driver was speeding or that they failed to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate time, such as by running a red light or stop sign.
Eyewitnesses can be extremely helpful at trial and can provide important testimony when an insurance company disputes liability or fault for the accident. Therefore, speak with eyewitnesses and obtain their contact information.
Seek Emergency Medical Treatment Following the Collision
Finally, after a motor vehicle accident, seek emergency medical treatment. Often, paramedics will come to the accident scene and will ask you how you are doing. You should give a detailed description of your symptoms at the time and be careful not to leave anything out.
Moreover, go in the ambulance and visit the hospital emergency room even if your injuries appear minor so that a healthcare provider can review your symptoms and take the necessary imaging studies. If you do not want to go by ambulance, you should have someone drive you directly to the hospital emergency room or an urgent care center.
At the hospital ER, you might need to undergo an X-ray, MRI, brain scan, or other emergency treatment at the hospital. Moreover, the healthcare provider on duty at the hospital can render emergency treatment, if necessary, and make recommendations for follow-up treatment. For example, if you suffered a broken bone or another serious injury, you might need to follow up with a family doctor or an orthopedic surgeon. On the other hand, if you suffered a serious head injury in your accident, you might need to follow up with a neurologist.
Seek emergency medical treatment following your car crash. If you fail to do this, an insurance company adjuster might later assume that your injuries were not all that serious or that you did not take your medical treatment seriously following the accident. Even if your injuries appear minor, it is still important to obtain a medical opinion and let the hospital or urgent care doctor examine you. Relatively minor injuries that go untreated can become much more serious later on.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer
As soon as possible after your car accident, speak with a knowledgeable car accident lawyer who can file a personal injury claim on your behalf. In many instances, the lawyer will file your claim with the insurance company for the at-fault motor vehicle driver.
You want a car accident lawyer representing you who specializes in motor vehicle accident claims. In addition, you want a lawyer who has experience taking these types of cases to personal injury trials, mediations and arbitrations. A lawyer who has experience in these areas can zealously advocate for your legal interests, both at the settlement negotiation table and in the courtroom.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim with the At-fault Driver’s Insurer
While you seek medical treatment for your car accident injuries, a lawyer can prepare your claim. Specifically, your lawyer can gather all of your medical records, police reports, witness statements, photographs, and other important documentation to prepare a settlement demand package on your behalf.
In addition to this documentation, a settlement demand package will include a demand letter that makes a monetary demand for settlement. The insurance company will then review all of this documentation, and the adjuster handling the claim might make an offer to settle.
In most instances, initial settlement offers are not the top and final authority that the adjuster has on the case. A car accident lawyer can negotiate settlement offers on your behalf and get you the compensation you deserve.
Many car accident claims require several rounds of negotiations between the lawyer and the insurance company before getting to a settlement worth accepting. These negotiations can continue until the parties either resolve the case or reach an impasse. If the parties cannot come to a resolution, the accident victim’s lawyer can litigate the case in the court system.
A lawyer can assist you throughout the litigation process by filing a complaint on your behalf with the courts. Your lawyer can then assist in the discovery process, and if the case still does not resolve, they can take your case to meditation or to trial if necessary.
Car accident victims who attempt to settle their claims without a lawyer usually make mistakes. The insurance company will assume that you do not have the legal skills to handle the case on your own and will take advantage of you.
They will do this by attempting to offer as little money as possible to resolve your claim. By having a knowledgeable car accident lawyer represent you throughout your claim, you increase the chances you will recover full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Pursuing Damages for Your Injuries
One final way that a lawyer can help you throughout your car accident case is by pursuing monetary compensation and damages for your injuries. Victims of car accidents can suffer extremely serious injuries, depending upon how their bodies move in the car at the point of impact, the nature of their recovery as well as the force of the collision.
A forceful collision can cause an accident victim’s body to move around and about inside the vehicle, leading to debilitating injuries. Potential car accident injuries include broken bones, traumatic head injuries, internal injuries, cuts, lacerations, spinal cord injuries, and soft tissue injuries.
As the victim of a car accident, you have the legal burden of proof. You must satisfy all of the legal elements of your claim, including that you are entitled to recover monetary damages. If you can satisfy these elements, you might obtain damages.
First, you can pursue compensation for your economic damages, including your out-of-pocket costs, like lost wages.
In addition to economic damages, you might obtain noneconomic compensation as well. These damages compensate accident victims for their mental distress, pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of the ability to use a body part, and lost quality of life resulting from their injuries.
In some instances, accident victims might even recover punitive damages. The purpose of these damages is to punish the at-fault driver and to discourage other drivers from similar behaviors. These damages while rarely awarded are recoverable, for example, in some drunk driving accident cases, where the at-fault driver behaved in a particularly egregious or reckless manner under the circumstances.
If you have suffered injuries in a car crash that occurred because of someone else’s wrongful act, a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can determine your eligibility for various types of damages.
Your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and work to get you the compensation you deserve through a favorable settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If the insurance company won’t compensate you fairly and fully for your injuries, your lawyer can litigate the case in court to get you the compensation you deserve.
Never wait to learn about your rights after a car accident and start the legal process when possible.