Car accident victims often sustain serious injuries that incur high medical bills. Since drivers must carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, they must first turn to their own insurance company for medical compensation. Their insurer may also pay damages for lost wages, such as when an accident victim’s injuries prevent them from working for a period of time after their accident.
But what happens if the car accident victim sustains a permanent injury, disfiguring injury, or high medical costs that exceed their PIP coverage? Under those circumstances, the accident victim can turn to the at-fault driver’s insurance company for payment of medical expenses and other damages including their pain and suffering.
In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment after your car accident, you should retain an experienced car accident attorney to represent you throughout your claim or lawsuit. First, your lawyer can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your car accident and determine your eligibility for various damages. Your lawyer can then file a prompt personal injury claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf. Finally, your lawyer can assist during settlement negotiations and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in the court system and pursue litigation on your behalf.
Personal injury lawyers only represent injured accident victims not big insurance companies and their interests. Therefore, your lawyer will be your advocate throughout your case and answer all of your legal questions. Your attorney will work hard to
How do Car Accidents Usually Happen?
Car accidents usually occur when drivers operate their vehicles recklessly or carelessly under the circumstances. Some accidents result from intoxicated driving, while others happen when drivers become distracted behind the wheel. At other times, car accidents occur when drivers violate road rules or exhibit road rage.
A driver is intoxicated when breathalyzer evidence or other chemical testing reveals that they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent.
Commercial vehicle drivers, including tractor-trailer operators, must follow stricter legal standards. The law considers these drivers intoxicated with a BAC of 0.04 percent or greater. Finally, minor drivers under 21 years of age may not have any alcohol in their system while driving.
When a driver has alcohol in their system, they cannot react in time to avoid a motor vehicle crash. They also experience limited concentration, as well as physical symptoms like blurred vision. When a drunk driver causes a car accident that leads to severe and permanent injuries, the driver and their insurance company may be responsible for the resulting injuries and damages.
In addition to intoxicated driving, some car accidents result from distracted driving. Drivers become distracted when they fail to observe the road. Some drivers are too busy texting or talking on their cell phones to notice an approaching vehicle or pedestrian. At other times, drivers become distracted when they listen to loud music in their vehicle or discipline a young child sitting in the backseat.
Any distraction no matter how short can divert a driver’s attention away from the road, causing them to look down or to the side. Consequently, the driver may cause a severe accident with a nearby vehicle, resulting in serious injuries.
Another common cause of traffic accidents is moving violations. Drivers violate the rules of the road when they speed, fail to use their turn signals, fail to obey traffic signs, and fail to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate times.
Finally, some car crashes result from road rage, which is a driver’s overly aggressive response to a roadway situation that arises. For example, an enraged driver might angrily honk their horn, tailgate the vehicle in front of them, or weave in and out of busy highway traffic without using a turn signal, causing a severe accident.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash resulting from one of these types of driver negligence, you have legal options available. Your lawyer can discuss those options with you, safeguard your legal rights, and help you decide on the best course of action for your case. Your lawyer can also help you file the necessary claim or lawsuit to recover favorable monetary damages.
Common Types of Car Crashes
When drivers operate their vehicles negligently, they may cause various accidents, leaving other drivers and passengers severely injured.
Some of the most common car accidents that result from driver negligence include:
- Sideswipe accidents, where a distracted driver negligently crosses into another travel lane on a multi-lane roadway, forcing another vehicle into a different lane or off the road entirely.
- Broadside accidents, or T-bone collisions, where the front of one vehicle impacts the side of an adjacent vehicle, frequently causing the second vehicle to spin around rapidly or overturn
- Rear-end accidents, where the front of a vehicle strikes the back of another vehicle, usually because of distracted or intoxicated driving
- Head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles collide, usually leading to severe injuries and fatalities if the vehicles are moving at high speeds
If you suffered injuries in one of these traffic accidents, your car accident attorney can help you maximize the monetary damages you recover by filing the appropriate claim or lawsuit on your behalf.
Car Accident Injuries That Require Prompt Medical Treatment
Car accident victims routinely suffer serious injuries that require prompt medical treatment, hospital stays, and physical therapy visits. The injuries that an accident victim sustains usually depend upon the severity of the impact and how their body moves in the car at the time of impact.
For example, if the accident victim’s body moves forward and backward abruptly, they may suffer a soft tissue whiplash injury or bone fracture. If a part of their body strikes something in the driver or passenger compartment, like the steering wheel or headrest, they may suffer a traumatic head or brain injury, such as a concussion.
In forceful impacts, drivers and passengers may also sustain a spinal cord injury which leads to full or partial paralysis. Total paralysis injuries typically prevent accident victims from moving their limbs and from feeling in the affected areas. Partial paralysis injuries, on the other hand, affect only certain parts of the accident victim’s body. In the worst car accident cases, the accident victim may suffer one or more fatal injuries, causing premature death.
As soon as possible after your car accident, you should follow up at a medical treatment facility, such as a hospital emergency room or urgent care center. This step is essential because injury symptoms do not always manifest right away. Therefore, even if you are not feeling badly at the accident scene, you should allow a medical provider to physically examine you and take the necessary imaging studies like MRIs and X-rays to ascertain your medical condition.
A medical provider can also recommend future treatment if your symptoms become worse over time. For example, the ER doctor may instruct you to follow up with your primary care doctor or with a medical specialist if your symptoms persist.
Failing to seek prompt medical treatment after an accident, or failing to follow through on treatment recommendations, can have negative consequences for your personal injury case. Insurance companies and their adjusters often become skeptical when accident victims delay their treatment. This is because lengthy delays suggest that the accident victim’s injuries are not serious or that the accident victim did not prioritize their medical treatment. Therefore, you should seek same-day treatment after your car accident and continue treatment until a medical provider discharges you from their care.
While you focus on getting better, a car accident attorney in your area can begin the claims-filing process on your behalf and pursue the full monetary damages you need to recover in your case.
Filing a Claim With the At-fault Driver’s Insurer
In cases where a car crash victim suffers a permanent or disfiguring injury, they can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. The same is true if the accident victim’s medical bills and other damages exceed the limits of their available PIP insurance coverage.
The claims-filing process begins when a car accident lawyer submits relevant documents to the insurance company, including medical records and bills, and lost wage documents from the accident victim’s employer.
Once the adjuster reviews all of this information, they might make an opening settlement offer on the case. In most instances, however, these initial settlement offers are meager and far below the actual claim value. Therefore, a knowledgeable car accident attorney will need to negotiate the claim and pursue an increased settlement offer from the adjuster.
If the adjuster increases their offer significantly, and the accident victim accepts that offer, the case will end. However, if the case does not resolve, the accident victim’s lawyer can draft a lawsuit and file it with the court. Even after filing suit, the parties may continue their settlement negotiations and resolve the case. However, if that does not happen, the parties will continue through the litigation process, ending in a trial, mediation, or binding arbitration.
Your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept a pending settlement offer or litigate your case in the court system. If your case goes to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, your lawyer can represent you and advocate for your legal interests there.
Recoverable Damages in Car Accident Cases
Different car accident victims may recover different damages in their claims and lawsuits. This is because all car accident cases are different, and the ultimate damages that a victim recovers typically depend upon the seriousness of their injuries, the type of accident, the extent of their medical treatment, and their treatment costs.
In addition, monetary recovery usually depends upon the availability of certain evidence, including good property damage photographs, injury photographs, and a powerful victim impact statement. Finally, car accidents where victims suffer permanent injuries are usually more compensable than accidents where victims suffer only minor injuries.
A permanent injury is unlikely to improve over time. To recover monetary compensation for permanency, a medical provider must state in writing, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the injury is permanent in nature.
In addition to recovering compensation for related medical expenses and lost earnings, a car crash victim may be eligible to recover damages for loss of earning capacity. This is especially true if the accident victim has to switch jobs due to their injuries and take a pay cut. Moreover, car crash victims can recover compensation for their mental distress, emotional anguish, inconvenience, pain, and suffering that they experience.
If the accident victim suffered a permanent injury in their accident, they might be eligible to recover damages for loss of the ability to use a body part, such as with a full or partial paralysis injury. Likewise, if their quality of life declines due to their injuries, they can pursue damages for loss of life enjoyment. Finally, if the accident victim is married and their injuries affect spousal intimacy, they can bring a claim for loss of spousal companionship and consortium.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney in your area can determine which of these damages you may recover in your personal injury case and pursue the compensation you deserve through settlement or litigation.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
Your medical bills can pile up quickly if you suffer injuries in a recent car crash. Therefore, one of the most important steps you can take after an accident is to retain an experienced lawyer to represent you throughout your personal injury case.
Your car accident lawyer can promptly file a claim with the appropriate insurance company and start negotiating a settlement with the adjuster. If the adjuster’s settlement offer is unreasonable, your lawyer can litigate your case to a conclusion in court and represent you in all court proceedings.
Your car accident attorney will be your one-and-only advocate in any personal injury claim or lawsuit you file. Consequently, your personal injury lawyer can help you maximize your damages and ensure that you become whole again after your accident to the greatest extent possible.