Car accident victims who suffer injuries due to another driver’s negligence may be eligible to recover monetary compensation through a personal injury settlement or a lawsuit. A car accident attorney may file a lawsuit if the at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to compensate the accident victim fairly for their injuries and other losses. However, even after filing a lawsuit, the case may still reach a resolution. In other words, there is no guarantee that a case will automatically go to trial because it is in litigation.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that was someone else’s fault, you should retain skilled legal representation as quickly as possible. Your car accident lawyer can explain all of your options in clear terms and help you file a personal injury lawsuit seeking monetary damages for your injuries. Moreover, if your case ultimately goes to trial, your attorney can represent you at all legal proceedings in the courtroom and aggressively advocate for your legal interests at every stage of your case.
Negligent Actions (and Inactions) That Lead to Car Crashes
Car accidents typically occur when other drivers commit negligent actions and inactions. A driver is negligent when they fail to act reasonably under the circumstances. In some situations, a driver behaves negligently when they violate one or more traffic laws.
For example, they might exceed the speed limit, tailgate another driver, or otherwise drive recklessly or carelessly. Additionally, the at-fault driver might fail to use their turn signal appropriately or fail to yield the right-of-way to another driver.
At other times, traffic accidents occur when drivers engage in road rage. Road rage refers to a driver’s inappropriate reaction to an adverse roadway situation. For example, an enraged driver might aggressively weave in and out of traffic, speed, or tailgate other motorists, inadvertently causing an accident in the process.
Next, traffic accidents sometimes happen when drivers fail to use their rearview and side view mirrors while driving. Alternatively, they might forget to look behind them when backing out of a parking space in a parking lot or garage. As a result, they might negligently cause their vehicle to hit a pedestrian, cyclist, or other vehicle.
In addition, some car accidents happen when people drive while distracted. For example, they might be using a mobile device, programming a GPS navigation system, or even roughhousing with vehicle passengers instead of safely watching the road and paying attention to their surroundings. If a driver takes their eyes off the road, they may not see an approaching vehicle or pedestrian, bringing about a traffic accident, serious injuries, and other complications.
Finally, some car crashes result from drunk and intoxicated driving. Controlled substances, as well as alcohol, may alter a driver’s mindset, limit their concentration, and delay their reflexes and reaction time. As a result, an impaired driver may be unable to step on the brakes in time to avoid a severe accident.
Passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. If a drunk driver sustains a criminal conviction for DUI, they may have to pay criminal penalties. Moreover, if they cause a traffic accident that results from their intoxication, they may have to pay civil damages as well through their insurance company.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that occurred because of another driver’s negligence, a skilled car accident attorney in your area can review all of your legal options with you and help you file a claim with the appropriate insurance company. Your attorney can then handle settlement negotiations with insurance company representatives on your behalf or file a lawsuit and litigate your case to a conclusion.
Injuries That Result From Car Accidents
Depending upon the specific accident circumstances, car crashes can lead to debilitating injuries that cause intense pain and complicated medical treatment. In some situations, an injured driver or passenger might need to undergo hospitalization or a surgical procedure. At other times, they might need to endure physical therapy on an outpatient basis.
The size and scope of a car accident victim’s injuries typically depend upon the type of accident that occurs, the circumstances surrounding the accident, the number of vehicles involved in the crash, the vehicles’ speeds, and other factors.
Some of the most common injuries related to traffic accidents include:
- Soft tissue neck and back injuries
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Rib fractures
- Other broken bones
- Spinal cord damage
- Full and partial paralysis
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Bruises resulting from airbag deployment
- Open cuts and lacerations
Seeking ongoing medical treatment after your car crash is one of the most important steps you can take in terms of your personal injury claim or lawsuit. In many situations, significant gaps in medical treatment—or significantly delayed medical treatment—are a red flag for insurance company adjusters. While you finish your medical treatment, a car accident attorney in your area can start gathering the necessary documents to prove your personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Prerequisites to Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
There are several prerequisites to filing a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident. In most circumstances, an accident victim must complete all of their medical treatment before filing a personal injury claim with the insurance company. Once the accident victim has completed the majority of their treatment, a skilled car accident attorney can assist you with filing your claim.
First, your attorney may submit all related medical documentation, including medical records and bills, to the insurance company adjuster handling your claim. Your lawyer can also gather and submit police reports, witness statements, photographs of property damage, injury photographs, and other documents to support your claim.
Next, the at-fault driver’s insurance company must ordinarily accept fault, or liability, for the subject accident. If that happens, settlement negotiations may occur. These negotiations typically happen before a car crash attorney files a lawsuit on the accident victim’s behalf.
When settlement negotiations take place, the accident victim should always have skilled legal counsel on their side advocating for them. Otherwise, the insurance company adjuster handling the claim will almost certainly take advantage of the situation. Adjusters tend to assume that unrepresented car accident victims lack the necessary legal skills and knowledge to secure a favorable settlement or trial result in their case. Consequently, if an adjuster sees that an accident victim is unrepresented, they will likely offer very little monetary compensation to resolve the claim.
A car crash attorney, on the other hand, can aggressively negotiate with the insurance company adjuster and, if necessary, threaten the adjuster with personal injury litigation in the court system. If the insurance company refuses to adequately compensate the car crash victim, the victim’s attorney can file a lawsuit well within the statute of limitations deadline.
A car accident attorney in your area can help you satisfy these prerequisites to litigation and help you pursue a favorable settlement offer from the insurance company adjuster.
Car Accident Lawsuits
The litigation stage of a car accident case begins when an accident victim files a lawsuit seeking monetary recovery. However, even at this stage, the case may still resolve, via settlement, at any point up until the time of trial.
During litigation, the parties will engage in a discovery process, and they can find out more information about the other side’s version of the case. Both parties and their attorneys will answer written questions, called Interrogatories, and will exchange documents related to the case, including medical records and bills, as well as pertinent photographs.
Documents that the parties exchange during the discovery phase of litigation may come into evidence if the matter proceeds to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration proceeding.
Also, during the discovery stage, the defense attorney may take the accident victim’s deposition. At a deposition, the defense lawyer will likely ask the accident victim various questions about how the accident occurred, the injuries they suffered, the medical treatment they underwent, and the overall effects that the accident has had on their well-being. A car accident attorney can help you prepare for your deposition so you will testify in a persuasive and confident manner.
After a deposition occurs, the defense lawyer will typically report back to the insurance company about how the deposition went. The insurance company may then increase its most recent settlement offer to resolve the case. The parties may also have an additional opportunity to settle their pending case at a pre-trial or settlement conference that the court schedules.
If the case does not resolve during litigation, the parties may proceed to a civil jury trial. At a trial, the parties, through their lawyers, will present both written evidence and verbal testimony. The accident victim may testify on the witness stand directly, along with medical experts who can prove that the accident victim’s injuries are directly related to the accident. A medical provider may also testify in court that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury that is unlikely to get better over time.
At the conclusion of a car accident jury trial, the jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues. They may also decide the types and amounts of monetary compensation to award the accident victim.
As an alternative to a civil jury trial, the parties to a car accident case may pursue alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings, such as mediation or binding arbitration. A car accident attorney in your area can help you decide whether you should accept a pending settlement offer from the insurance company or litigate your case. Your attorney can further advise you in your choice between a civil jury trial, mediation hearing, or binding arbitration option.
Recovering Monetary Damages for Car Accident Losses
Car accidents can lead not only to financial losses, such as from medical expenses and lost earnings, but also intangible losses, including significant pain, suffering, and inconvenience. Fortunately, accident victims may be eligible to recover various types of monetary damages, depending upon the specific circumstances of their accident.
Generally, accident victims who suffer severe or permanent injuries are likely to recover higher monetary amounts than accident victims who suffered less-severe injuries. Other factors that weigh into an accident victim’s final economic damage award include the severity of the accident itself, as well as the cost of the medical treatment that the accident victim underwent.
Potential types of monetary compensation that car crash victims may recover include monetary damages for:
- Related past and future medical expenses
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost income
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent scarring
- Past and future pain and suffering
A skilled car accident lawyer in your area can help you ascertain which of these damages you are likely to recover in your case and pursue the highest monetary damage award available to you.
Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney About Your Situation Today
If you recently sustained injuries in a car crash that someone else caused, filing a timely personal injury claim or a lawsuit is a must. In fact, if you fail to file your claim or lawsuit in a timely manner, the court will prevent you from recovering any monetary compensation and damages for your accident-related losses. In general, the sooner you retain skilled legal counsel to represent you in your case, the higher your chances of success at settlement or litigation.
A car accident attorney in your area can begin representing you right away. In addition to assisting during settlement negotiations, your personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf, represent you at all legal proceedings that occur during litigation, and fight for your right to recover fair monetary damages in your case.