Car accidents leave many individuals severely injured and needing ongoing medical treatment. They may also experience pain and other symptoms that last a lifetime.
Car crash victims only have two years from their accident date to file a claim or lawsuit seeking damages. If they fail to file their claim on time, the statute of limitations bars them from recovering monetary compensation for their lost earnings, suffering, pain, inconvenience, and other related damages.
Given the extremely short statute of limitations for car accident cases, accident victims must retain experienced legal counsel as early on in the process as possible.
When to hire a lawyer after a car accident? As soon as possible after your car crash, you should reach out to a knowledgeable car accident lawyer who can investigate your accident’s circumstances, file an insurance claim on your behalf, and begin settlement negotiations. Suppose the insurance company is unwilling to offer you the monetary damages you deserve. In that case, your Edmonton car accident lawyer can help you file a lawsuit well within the statutory timeframe and work to maximize the compensation you recover.
Potential Car Accident Injuries
The injuries that a car crash victim will suffer depend upon the type of accident that occurs, the force of the crash, and how their body moves in the car at the time of the crash.
Common car accidents include rear-end accidents, where the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another, and sideswipe collisions, where the sides of two vehicles travelling in the same direction collide.
Other common accident types include broadside collisions, where the front of one vehicle strikes the side of a vehicle on an adjacent roadway, and head-on crashes, where the fronts of two vehicles collide while moving in opposite directions.
In any of these accidents, the crash force may be severe. As a result, the accident victim’s body may move rapidly inside their vehicle, either from side to side or frontward and backward, causing severe injuries. The collision force may also cause a part of the accident victim’s body to strike something in their vehicle, like the headrest, door frame, window, steering wheel, or dashboard, leading to severe injuries.
Typical injuries that a car crash victim may suffer can include:
- Traumatic head and brain damage, including from a concussion
- Cuts and bruises
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
Immediately after a car crash, you should follow up at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center for treatment. Moreover, you should undergo this same-day medical care even if you are unsure about the extent of your injuries. After all, even relatively minor injuries can worsen as time goes on, and your pain levels may increase significantly.
While at the ER facility, the medical provider can order the necessary CAT scans, MRIs, and X-rays, to accurately diagnose your medical condition. Moreover, the doctor can recommend future care if your symptoms become worse. For instance, you may need to follow up with your primary care physician or with a medical specialist, such as a neurologist or orthopedic doctor.
While you continue treating your injuries and focus your attention on getting better, an experienced car accident lawyer in your area can start advocating for your legal interests. Your lawyer can start gathering up your medical documentation, lost wage records, police reports, and other potential evidence to use in your case.
Once you finish your medical care, your lawyer can submit these documents to the insurance company and begin negotiating a favourable monetary award that fairly compensates you for your injuries and other damages.
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Common Car Accident Causes
In most cases, car crashes happen when drivers behave negligently under the circumstances. A driver is negligent when they deviate from the standard of care and act unreasonably. In some instances, this might mean doing something that a hypothetical reasonable driver should not have done under the same or similar circumstances.
At other times, it might mean failing to take action when a reasonable driver should have taken action under the same circumstances. Some of the most common types of driver negligence include road rage, road rule violations, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving.
Drivers engage in road rage when they react inappropriately to circumstances that arise on the road. For instance, the driver might tailgate the vehicle in front of them, fail to use a turn signal, or exhibit other aggressive driving maneuvers, such as overzealously weaving in and out of busy highway traffic. Under these circumstances, the enraged driver may inadvertently cause a severe crash with another vehicle, resulting in various injuries.
At other times, car crashes happen when drivers violate the rules of the road. Common road rule violations that cause traffic accidents include failing to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate time, speeding, and failing to use turn signals.
Distracted driving is another common cause of car accidents. Drivers become distracted when they fail to observe the road. In some instances, drivers become distracted when they listen to loud music in their vehicle or roughhouse with vehicle passengers.
At other times, electronic devices in the vehicle, such as GPS navigation systems, tablets, and cellular phones, distract drivers from their primary responsibility. When a driver focuses on something other than their driving, they may look down or turn their head to the side, preventing them from seeing a vehicle or pedestrian in the vicinity. Consequently, they may cause serious traffic accidents.
Finally, some traffic accidents happen when drivers operate their vehicles while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Alcohol, in particular, can significantly affect a driver’s ability to drive safely. Alcohol is a depressant, significantly slowing down a driver’s central nervous system and preventing it from functioning properly.
Alcohol consumption before driving may also cause a driver’s vision to become blurry and limit concentration. It may also significantly delay their reaction time, preventing them from stopping their vehicle just prior to a crash.
While commercial vehicle drivers and minor drivers under 21 years old must follow stricter standards, a passenger vehicle driver is intoxicated if a breathalyzer device measures their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.08 percent or higher. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher.
You have legal options available if you suffered injuries in a car crash resulting from someone else’s negligence. A skilled car accident lawyer in your area can promptly review the circumstances of your accident, discuss your injuries, and determine what your legal options are. Your lawyer can then help you file the claim or lawsuit you need to recover the monetary compensation you deserve.
Retaining an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer to Represent You
Retaining a knowledgeable car accident lawyer to represent you as soon as possible after your accident is vital. However, not all lawyers are the same. If you suffered injuries in a car crash, you want a lawyer on your side who has a good track record of success—both with settling car accident claims and successfully litigating cases in court.
An experienced lawyer can help you investigate your car accident circumstances, file a claim with the insurance company, negotiate with settlement adjusters, litigate your case, and pursue the total damages that you deserve to recover.
Investigating Your Car Accident Circumstances
One of the first things your car accident lawyer can do is help you investigate the circumstances of your accident. In some car crash scenarios, it can be challenging—if not impossible—to tell how your accident occurred and who caused it.
Your lawyer can hire an accident reconstructionist who can piece together the accident circumstances after reviewing police reports and speaking with eyewitnesses to the occurrence. The accident reconstructionist can then prepare a thorough report and authenticate their report at a discovery deposition or jury trial.
A knowledgeable car crash lawyer in your area can help you retain the necessary experts to prove the legal elements of your claim and help you recover the monetary damages you deserve.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
In addition to investigating your accident circumstances, your lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim with the insurance company for damages. The claims-filing process begins when your lawyer submits a settlement demand package—along with a demand letter—to the insurance company adjuster handling your claim.
The settlement demand package will include various documents which may later serve as evidence in your case, including:
- Medical reports
- Lost wage statements
- Earnings statements
- Photographs of injuries
- Photographs of property damage
- Police reports
- Investigation reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Victim personal statements
The demand package will also include a settlement demand letter in which your lawyer makes a monetary demand for settlement from the insurance company.
Handling Settlement Negotiations
Once the adjuster reviews all of this information, they might make an initial settlement offer to settle your case quickly. Although many car crash victims are anxious to settle, initial offers rarely compensate victims fairly. After all, insurance companies and their adjusters are going to try and save themselves as much money as possible.
A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can negotiate back and forth with the settlement adjuster and try to convince them to increase their offer significantly. If the offer does not go up, your lawyer may threaten litigation and, if necessary, actually file a lawsuit in court on your behalf. However, just because your lawyer files a lawsuit does not necessarily mean your case will go to trial. Most car crash cases settle at some point out of court. Post-suit, your lawyer may continue their settlement negotiations with the adjuster and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Litigating Your Case in Court
During litigation, the court will typically issue a scheduling order establishing various deadlines for your case. The court may also schedule a pre-trial or settlement conference, along with a jury trial date.
Also, during litigation, the parties will engage in a process known as discovery. This offers the parties an opportunity to learn more about the other side’s version of the car accident case. During discovery, the parties will answer written questions, called interrogatories, and take part in discovery depositions.
Once discovery ends, the parties can decide whether to resolve their case through settlement or take it to a jury trial or alternative dispute resolution proceeding. If the case goes to trial, a jury will decide what, if any, damages to award the accident victim. If the parties pursue mediation, a neutral mediator will help them facilitate their ongoing settlement discussions. Finally, if the parties choose arbitration, a neutral arbitrator—whom the parties pre-select—will decide the amount of monetary compensation to award the car accident victim.
Your lawyer can assist you throughout the litigation process and represent you in all courtroom proceedings in your case.
Pursuing the Damages You Deserve
In addition to litigating a personal injury case on your behalf, your lawyer can help you maximize the monetary recovery you receive for your injuries.
The damages that car crash victims recover in a claim or lawsuit depend upon various factors, including the type of car crash that occurs and the extent of their injuries.
Potential damages include compensation for:
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Loss of use of a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Humiliation and embarrassment
Call an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, the sooner you have a knowledgeable car accident lawyer on your side representing you, the better off you will be. It is never a good idea to try to take on an insurance company, let alone a courtroom, by yourself.
Once you retain a lawyer to represent you, they can start advocating for your legal interests and pursuing the monetary damages you need. When this happens, you can focus on the essential thing, recovering from your injuries. While you do that, your lawyer will do everything they can to highlight the strengths of your case while downplaying any weaknesses and pursuing the maximum compensation available.