Who pays when you sue in a car accident? If you suffer injuries in a car crash that resulted from another person’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. However, the at-fault driver does not pay your damages in most instances. Instead, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays them.
In some instances, the at-fault driver may be completely uninsured, or they may flee the accident scene before you can obtain their license plate number or contact information. When that happens, you can turn to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC) for compensation.
In addition to seeking the medical treatment you need following a car crash, you must talk with an experienced Edmonton car accident lawyer in your area right away. Your lawyer can help you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company and, if necessary, a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In either instance, your lawyer can help you negotiate favourable settlement compensation from the insurance company. However, if the insurance company adjuster will not offer you the damages you deserve, your lawyer can file suit and litigate your case to an efficient resolution in the civil court system.
How Do Car Crashes Happen?
In most circumstances, car accidents occur when people drive their vehicles recklessly or carelessly. Negligent driving can take many forms, but it typically involves violating a rule of the road, exhibiting road rage, or engaging in distracted or intoxicated driving.
When a driver gets behind the wheel, they are responsible for following all road rules to the best of their ability. This includes using turn signals at the appropriate times, yielding the right-of-way at traffic intersections when it’s reasonable to do so, and following all posted roadway signs and speed limits. When drivers violate these laws, they increase their chances of causing an accident. This is especially true if they speed or repeatedly engage in aggressive driving maneuvers.
At other times, car crashes happen when a driver exhibits road rage. Many drivers are in a hurry to arrive at their final destination. As a result, they will resort to just about anything to get ahead of other vehicles. When other drivers drive too slowly for their liking, they may aggressively weave in and out of heavy traffic, fail to use their turn signals, or tailgate other vehicles. In many instances, these aggressive driving maneuvers lead to severe crashes that come with debilitating injuries.
Car crashes also happen when drivers become distracted while behind the wheel. Distracted drivers are drivers who fail to observe the road. Instead of watching the road, they may listen to loud music in the car or roughhouse with vehicle passengers. At other times, drivers become distracted when they text and drive, fiddle with a GPS navigation system, or use other electronic devices instead of watching the road. When a driver fails to look straight ahead and use their rearview and side view mirrors, they may not see an approaching vehicle or pedestrian and inadvertently cause a crash.
Finally, some car accidents happen when drivers operate their vehicles while drugged or intoxicated. Alcohol, in particular, may impair a driver’s ability to concentrate and react to roadway emergencies that arise. Consequently, an intoxicated driver may be unable to see an oncoming vehicle, let alone stop their own vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for passenger vehicle drivers is 0.08 percent. However, commercial vehicle drivers and underage drivers may not have any alcohol in their system while behind the wheel. Even when a driver’s BAC falls below the legal limit, their driving abilities may still suffer impairment, and they may still cause a severe accident due to their physical limitations. Alberta imposes administrative penalties when the BAC is 0.05 percent and higher.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that resulted from one of these types of driver negligence, you are not alone. In fact, you may have several legal options to recover monetary compensation for your injuries and other damages.
A skilled car accident lawyer in your area can meet with you to discuss your accident circumstances and, if necessary, investigate the accident’s cause. If you are eligible to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for damages, your lawyer can assist you throughout the process and help you negotiate a settlement offer with the insurance company adjuster.
What Are Some Common Car Accident Types?
When drivers operate their vehicles recklessly and carelessly, they may cause different types of accidents. The accident that ultimately happens will depend upon various factors, including the location, the geography of the accident scene, and the positions of the involved vehicles.
Some of the most common car accidents that result from driver error include:
- Rear-end crashes, where the front of one car strikes the back of another car
- T-bone collisions, or broadside accidents, where the front of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle
- Sideswipe accidents, where the sides of two vehicles strike one another while travelling forward in the same direction
- Head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles collide, usually on a dual-lane road with a single travel lane proceeding in each direction
If you suffered injuries in any of these car crashes that resulted from another driver’s error, your lawyer can contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company and begin pursuing personal injury compensation on your behalf. Moreover, if the at-fault driver was completely uninsured—or if they fled the accident scene—your lawyer can explain other possible options and develop a plan for moving forward with your claim or lawsuit.
Injuries in Car Crashes
There is no disputing that car crashes can lead to severe injuries which require medical treatment—and in some cases, ongoing rehabilitation. The injuries that a car accident victim sustains will depend upon numerous factors, including the way that their body moves in the car during the accident, the force of the collision, and whether a part of their body struck something in their vehicles—such as the headrest, steering wheel, window, or doorframe.
Some common injuries that car accident victims routinely suffer include:
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Cuts, bruises, abrasions
- Soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Paralysis injuries
In most instances, you will be unable to file a personal injury claim with an insurance company—or file a lawsuit in the court system—until you complete your medical treatment. This is actually a good thing because you want the insurance company to have an accurate assessment of your damages before you accept a settlement offer from them.
In any instance, your medical treatment after a car crash should start as soon as possible. On the same day as the accident, you should follow up at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center for medical treatment. While you are there, the medical provider on duty can take X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans, to diagnose your medical condition accurately.
If you need additional treatment, the doctor can make the appropriate recommendations. After you leave the ER facility, you should be sure to follow up with recommended treatment providers if your medical condition gets worse.
While you focus your attention on getting better, your lawyer can start to handle the legal components of your claim. First, they can draft a settlement demand letter on your behalf and forward it to the insurance company adjuster after you finish your treatment. Next, your lawyer can begin gathering your medical records, lost wage documents, earnings statements, photographs of your injuries, and property damage photographs. Once your medical treatment is complete, these documents may become substantial evidence in your claim or lawsuit.
Filing a Claim With the At-fault Driver’s Insurer for Monetary Damages
Following most car crashes, an accident victim’s lawyer can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. As part of the claims-filing process, your lawyer will submit your medical records and other essential documents to the adjuster handling the claim.
If the adjuster accepts liability for the accident, they may place an introductory settlement offer on the table. However, in most instances, these initial offers are often meagre and not worth accepting. It will usually take several rounds of settlement negotiations between your lawyer and the insurance company adjuster to reach a favourable number. If that does not happen, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court on your behalf, and your case will proceed through the court system.
Even after filing a lawsuit, your case may still settle. In fact, it is not uncommon for car crash cases to settle long before the trial date. If your case remains unresolved by the end of litigation, your lawyer can take your case to a civil jury trial. At trial, the jury will decide what, if any, damages to award you.
If the insurance company agrees, you can also consider alternative dispute resolution options, like binding arbitration or mediation, as a means of resolving your injury case. Your lawyer can help you decide the best possible way to proceed to get you the maximum monetary compensation you deserve.
What Happens if the At-fault Driver Had No Auto Insurance Whatsoever?
Even though drivers are supposed to carry motor vehicle insurance coverage, many drivers do not. Moreover, in some accident scenarios, the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident. This is called a “phantom vehicle” accident scenario.
In either of these instances, you can turn to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC). To qualify, you must reside in Alberta, your accident must have occurred in Alberta, and only the uninsured vehicle driver—or phantom vehicle driver—must have caused the accident.
Under the MVAC program, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive monetary compensation for the injuries you suffered, along with other damages. After filing a lawsuit, the case proceeds in much the same way as if the at-fault driver’s insurer was involved.
Accident victims may recover a maximum of $200,000 worth of compensation. However, if the accident in question injured more than one victim, then the victims must divide up the payment based upon a pro-rata split. You may need to access your SEF 44 endorsement under your own policy to be fully compensated. A personal injury lawyer can explain how that works.
A car crash lawyer in your area can determine if you qualify to participate in the MVAC program and if so, can file the necessary lawsuit for monetary damages on your behalf. Please note that there are strict timelines for the MVAC and as such, you should speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights.
Types of Monetary Damages You May Recover
Car accidents can lead to debilitating physical injuries, mental distress, and pain. If you can establish the legal elements of your claim, you may be eligible to recover various damages from the at-fault driver’s insurer—or via the MVAC program.
Available damages in car accident claims and lawsuits depend upon various factors, including the accident victim’s injuries, their symptoms, and whether they missed any work time after their accident.
Potential damages that car crash victims may recover include compensation for their:
- Lost earnings
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental distress
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Past and future pain, suffering, and inconvenience
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
A car accident lawyer in your area can review your case with you and determine your eligibility for recovering damages in your case. Your lawyer can then aggressively fight for your right to monetary compensation during the settlement negotiation process—or at a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing.
Call an Experienced Car Crash Lawyer Near You Today
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a recent car accident, a knowledgeable Edmonton personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable help. After meeting with you to discuss your accident circumstances, your lawyer can identify the appropriate insurance company and file a timely claim.
Your lawyer can do all this while you focus on the most vital thing, recovering from your injuries. If fair settlement compensation is not forthcoming, your lawyer can then file a lawsuit, litigate your case in the court system, and work to obtain the highest possible monetary award for you.