Car accidents can lead to injuries, medical treatment, and permanent pain and suffering. However, accident victims have a limited amount of time to take legal action and file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. For example, in the states of Indiana and Illinois, an accident victim only has two years from their accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit, according to the statutes of limitations on the books in those jurisdictions.
In almost all situations, the time clock starts to run on the accident date and ends precisely two years later. If a car crash victim has not filed a lawsuit within two years of the accident date, they forever waive their right to recover monetary damages for their injuries. In fact, if they try to file a lawsuit after the deadline expires, a court will quickly dismiss their lawsuit.
Indiana and Illinois have two of the shortest statute of limitations time periods in the country. Therefore, if you suffered injuries in a recent car crash that occurred in one of these states, you should seek out legal representation for yourself right away. Otherwise, you might inadvertently waive your legal right to recover the monetary damages you deserve for your injuries.
A skilled car accident attorney in your area can review your legal options with you quickly and help you file a personal injury lawsuit in a timely manner. Your attorney can then begin negotiating a fair settlement offer for your car accident losses or, if necessary, pursue litigation in the court system to a prompt conclusion.
Car Crashes That Lead to Personal Injury Claims and Lawsuits
Car crashes that result from another driver’s negligent activity can lead to a personal injury claim or lawsuit. A driver behaves negligently when they fail to act reasonably under the circumstances or otherwise deviate from the prevailing standard of care. In many situations, a car accident occurs when one or more drivers violate common traffic laws.
For example, the at-fault driver might have exceeded the speed limit, failed to yield the right-of-way to another driver at the appropriate time, tailgated another vehicle, or failed to signal when making a turn or executing a lane change on a multi-lane road.
At other times, the at-fault driver may have been under the illegal influence of alcohol or drugs while operating a vehicle. Alcohol intoxication is especially problematic because drunk drivers cannot pay careful attention to the road or concentrate on their driving abilities. Alcohol may also cause their vision to become blurry and may delay their reflexes and reaction time. Consequently, they may not step on the brake in time to avoid a severe car crash or pedestrian accident.
Other car accidents happen when drivers fail to use their mirrors, including both side view and rearview mirrors, as well as electronic backup systems. When drivers fail to use these devices while driving—and while backing out of parking spaces—they may inadvertently hit an oncoming vehicle, causing the vehicle occupants to suffer serious injuries.
Similarly, some car accidents result from distracted driving. Now more than ever, electronic devices in vehicles—like tablets, cellular phones, and GPS navigation systems—may distract a driver and divert their attention away from the road. When a driver turns their head, even for a small amount of time, they may fail to notice or appreciate an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian in the vicinity, causing a violent crash.
Finally, some car crashes result from aggressive driving and road rage. A driver exhibits road rage when they become impatient or angry with other drivers and exhibit overzealous driving maneuvers. For example, they might negligently cut other drivers off in traffic, fail to use their turn signals at the appropriate times, exceed the speed limit, or tailgate other drivers. All of these reckless maneuvers may lead to serious car crashes, which leave other drivers and passengers with severe injuries.
When drivers exhibit one or more of these types of negligence, they may cause serious traffic accidents, including:
- Rear-end collisions
- Direct, head-on collisions
- Sideswipe accidents
- Vehicle overturn accidents
- Broadside collisions, or T-bone accidents
Arguably, the most severe crashes are head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles hit one another. When these accidents happen at high rates of speed, permanent injuries and fatalities may occur.
If you sustained injuries in one of these types of car accidents that occurred due to driver error, a skilled car crash attorney in your area can explore all of your legal options with you and help you develop a plan to take action in your case. Your attorney can also help you file a timely personal injury claim or lawsuit in court, seeking the full monetary recovery you need for your accident-related losses.
Common Injuries in Car Crashes
Car accident victims often suffer serious injuries that affect every area of their life. In addition to experiencing extreme pain and suffering, they may need to attend medical appointments and spend significantly less time with their family members and friends. They might also have to refrain from participating in social and recreational activities they once enjoyed with others, such as team sports or other organizations.
The injuries that a car crash victim suffers will vary greatly, depending upon the size and scope of the car accident, the number of vehicles involved, the speeds of the vehicles, and the exact accident circumstances.
Some common car accident injuries include:
- Soft tissue back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Full and partial paralysis
- Bone fractures
- Rib fractures
- Traumatic brain and head injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Deep cuts and lacerations
- Bruises from airbag deployment
Before calling a car accident attorney after your crash, you should get the medical treatment that you need. Even after you hire a lawyer, you must continue with your treatment regimen until it is complete. After that point, your car accident lawyer can file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf and begin negotiating with insurance company settlement adjusters for the fair and reasonable monetary damages you deserve.
Filing a Timely Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit in Your Case
Car accident victims have two years from their accident date to file a personal injury claim for monetary damages. In most instances, an accident victim’s lawyer will file this claim with the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
The law calls them third-party claims. However, in some instances, your lawyer can file a first-party claim with your own insurance company, such as if the other driver fled the scene of the accident and did not stop to exchange insurance information.
Alternatively, your lawyer can file an underinsured motorist claim with your insurance company if the at-fault driver did not have adequate insurance coverage available to compensate you for all of your accident-related injuries and losses.
In both first-party and third-party personal injury claims, an accident victim’s lawyer will submit various documents to the insurance company adjuster for review. Those documents may include copies of all medical treatment records and bills, police reports and investigations, eyewitness statements, expert reports, photographs of injuries, pictures of property damage, and photographs of the accident scene. The insurance company adjuster handling the claim can then review all of this information, and if they accept fault for the accident, settlement negotiations between the parties may start.
During settlement negotiations, you should have a skilled car accident lawyer advocating for you every step of the way. This is because insurance companies, including your own insurance company, may take advantage of an unrepresented accident victim. Insurance companies and their adjusters frequently believe that unrepresented individuals lack the necessary legal knowledge and skills to negotiate an effective settlement out of court.
These adjusters also believe that unrepresented accident victims do not have the skills necessary to effectively represent themselves if their case should end up in court. Therefore, insurance company adjusters are unlikely to offer unrepresented car accident victims a fair and reasonable settlement amount to resolve their claims.
On the other hand, a car accident attorney can negotiate with the adjuster and threaten them with litigation if they are unwilling to compensate you reasonably for your accident-related losses. Your attorney can also file a lawsuit in the court system as a means of enticing the adjuster to increase their settlement offer significantly. If that does not happen, your lawyer can pursue litigation through the court system and, if necessary, take your case to a civil jury trial for resolution.
Effectively Litigating a Car Accident Lawsuit Through the Court System
Car accident litigation is not necessary in every case. However, it does become essential if the insurance company disputes liability for the accident—or if the adjuster simply refuses to offer you fair monetary damages for the injuries you suffered.
Litigation begins when a car crash lawyer files a lawsuit in court, and a defense attorney files a formal answer to that lawsuit. The parties may then engage in ongoing discovery, and the defense attorney may take the accident victim’s discovery deposition. During litigation, the case may still resolve at any time out of court.
However, if the parties do not resolve their differences, they may take their case to a civil jury trial, where a jury will make the final decision on all disputed issues in the case—including the issue of monetary compensation. In addition, the parties may consider alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or binding arbitration, as a way to resolve their case effectively and efficiently.
The right car accident attorney near you can help you decide which option is best, given the facts and circumstances of your car accident case.
Speak to a Knowledgeable Car Accident Attorney about Your Legal Matter Right Away
If you recently suffered injuries in a car crash, you should involve a car accident attorney right away. Since accident victims only have two years from the date of their car crash to file a personal injury lawsuit, time is of the essence. Therefore, the sooner you involve legal counsel in your case, the higher your chances of recovering monetary compensation for all of your injuries and other losses. Sometimes, people think that their case is simple and can therefore negotiate with the insurance company on their own. This is nearly always a mistake. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.
A skilled car accident lawyer in your area can promptly investigate your accident circumstances, explore your legal options, and file a timely claim or lawsuit on your behalf. Your lawyer can also field ongoing settlement offers from insurance company adjusters and work to maximize the overall monetary award you receive—via settlement or litigation—in your case.