Car accidents can lead to ongoing injuries and medical treatment for drivers and passengers. Car crashes often happen when other people drive carelessly or recklessly. In those situations, the accident victim can file a claim or a lawsuit in court, seeking monetary damages.
The victim's lawyer will file a legal complaint to begin a car accident lawsuit. The parties may also take part in a process known as discovery. If the case does not resolve during the litigation process, the parties can take their case to a jury trial or binding arbitration hearing for a resolution.
One of the most important steps you can take following a car accident is to retain skilled legal counsel to represent you at every stage of the proceedings. Your car accident lawyer can first file a claim on your behalf and work with the insurance company to pursue favorable settlement compensation.
However, if the insurance company balks, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and litigate your case to an efficient resolution. In addition, your attorney can represent you at all legal proceedings, including your discovery deposition, jury trial, mediation hearing, or binding arbitration proceeding.
What Causes Car Accidents?
In many situations, car crashes directly result from another driver's negligence or recklessness. Driver negligence can take on many forms, but it usually involves a driver violating one or more traffic laws.
Some of the most common traffic law violations that lead to car crashes include failing to use turn signals at the proper times, failing to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle when appropriate, and exceeding the speed limit. In general, the more traffic law violations a driver commits, the more likely they will cause an accident leading to debilitating injuries.
Another common cause of traffic accidents is distracted driving. Most drivers become distracted when they take their eyes off the road to look at an electronic device, such as a tablet, cellular phone, or GPS navigation system. Vehicle passengers may also prove distracting for many drivers, especially when they engage in horseplay. Even if a driver only takes their eyes off the road for a few seconds, that may be sufficient time for a traffic accident.
Next, some motor vehicle crashes result from road rage and other aggressive driving maneuvers. A driver might exhibit road rage when angry with another driver – usually because they are not traveling fast enough. An enraged driver might recklessly speed, weave around traffic, fail to use their turn signals, or tailgate other vehicles, bringing about a severe accident.
Finally, some traffic accidents directly result from driving under the influence, or DUI. A driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that reaches 0.08 percent or more.
However, drivers under 21 and commercial drivers must follow stricter BAC limits. Drunk driving is hazardous because it often affects a driver's concentration, reflexes, and reaction time. Alcohol intoxication may also lead to blurred vision and other symptoms, preventing a driver from noticing another vehicle or a nearby pedestrian.
Finally, some car crashes happen when drivers fail to use their mirrors, backup cameras, and other vehicle technology while driving or pulling out of parking spaces.
If you or someone you care about recently sustained injuries in a car accident that another driver negligently caused, you should speak with knowledgeable legal counsel immediately.
Your attorney can go over your legal options with you and can help you claim monetary compensation and damages. If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can litigate your case and help you pursue the best possible result.
How Can Your Lawyer Prove the Elements of Your Car Accident Claim?
In any personal injury claim or lawsuit that stems from a motor vehicle crash, the accident victim has the burden of proving the necessary legal elements in their case.
Otherwise, they cannot recover any monetary compensation for their accident-related injuries and losses. First, an accident victim must establish that the other driver owed them a legal duty of care. Specifically, drivers must follow all traffic regulations on the books and drive carefully and safely at all times.
Next, the car accident victim must establish that the other driver violated their legal duty of care, such as by engaging in road rage or driving while under the influence of alcohol.
In addition, the accident victim has to show that this duty-of-care violation was both the actual and the foreseeable cause of the subject auto accident. Finally, the accident victim must prove that as a direct and proximate result of the auto accident, they sustained at least one physical injury.
To establish these legal elements as part of a personal injury claim or lawsuit, a car accident lawyer can retain several experts to testify on your behalf. For example, if the insurance company is disputing fault or liability for the car accident, your attorney can appoint an expert accident reconstructionist who can visit the accident scene, speak with witnesses, and decide how the auto accident likely happened. The expert reconstructionist can also testify at a discovery deposition – or at trial – on your behalf.
Next, your attorney can retain a medical expert to testify in your case. Medical experts can be helpful by causally relating the accident victim's injuries to the subject auto accident. A medical expert can also testify in court, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury that is unlikely to get better – even with the passage of sufficient time.
In many cases, car crash victims who suffer permanent injuries experience painful symptoms and experience other medical complications for the rest of their life. For example, a paralysis injury sufferer may experience limited sensation or an ongoing inability to use a particular body part for the remainder of their life.
What Monetary Damages Can Car Crash Claims and Lawsuits Recover?
In an auto accident claim or lawsuit, accident victims may be eligible to pursue and recover various monetary damages. Every car crash scenario is different, and not all accident victims can recover the same types or amounts of monetary damages.
The total financial award that an auto accident victim receives via settlement or a lawsuit will usually depend upon the severity of their injuries, the nature and extent of their medical treatment, the cost of their medical treatment, the scope of their pain and suffering, and other permanent complications.
First, via a claim or a lawsuit, a car crash victim may be eligible to recover both their past and anticipated medical costs. In addition, if they had to miss time from work to attend medical appointments or physical therapy sessions, they may be eligible to recover their lost earnings. Similarly, if the accident victim had to switch jobs and take a pay cut due to the extent of their injuries, they can bring a claim for loss of earning capacity.
In addition to these economic losses, accident victims may be eligible to recover various non-economic damages for their intangible losses. Those damages frequently compensate auto accident victims for their inconvenience, mental distress, pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, loss of spousal companionship, loss of the ability to use a body part, and permanent disfigurement.
A skilled car accident attorney in your area can help you determine which damages you can recover as part of your car accident lawsuit. Your lawyer can also help you estimate your potential monetary damages, given the injuries you suffered and the facts and circumstances of your case.
What Steps Will a Typical Car Accident Lawsuit Go Through?
The litigation process of an auto accident claim begins when a personal injury lawyer files a lawsuit in the court system on your behalf. That driver's insurance company will retain legal counsel to represent them in the case. The defense attorney will then file an answer to the lawsuit, and the discovery process may begin.
Discovery typically consists of two stages: written discovery and oral discovery. Written discovery may consist of requests for the production of documents and written questions called Interrogatories.
A car accident attorney can help you answer your Interrogatories in the most favorable way possible. These questions typically pertain to how the accident happened, the injuries the accident victim sustained, the medical treatment they underwent, and the overall complications in their life.
During a discovery deposition, the defense attorney can ask the accident victim similar questions and go into more detail about how the accident happened and the injuries and medical treatment the victim underwent.
Your car accident attorney can thoroughly prepare you for your discovery deposition and help you anticipate the questions the defense attorney may ask you.
Following a discovery deposition, the defense attorney will typically speak with the adjuster about how the deposition went – and how the accident victim testified.
At that point, the settlement adjuster may authorize additional monetary compensation in the case.
If the case does not settle, the parties must usually attend a pre-trial or settlement conference with the court. During this proceeding, a retired judge or a settlement officer will work with the parties to facilitate settlement discussions and see if the case may be resolved. If it cannot, the matter will typically need to go to a civil jury trial in the court system.
At a civil jury trial, the parties' attorneys present evidence, and their respective clients typically testify on the witness stand. The jury then decides the outcome of all disputed issues, including the issue of monetary damages (such as how much money to award the accident victim).
As an alternative to a civil jury trial, the parties may agree upon one or more alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings, such as mediation or binding arbitration.
At a mediation session, for example, the parties present their case to a neutral mediator who works with them to facilitate settlement discussions and pursue a favorable resolution. However, at a binding arbitration hearing, the parties present evidence in their case out of court to a neutral arbitrator who then decides the issue of damages.
Your car accident attorney can help you make informed legal decisions throughout your case, increasing your chances of recovering the monetary damages you deserve.
Why Should You Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Right Away?
If you recently suffered injuries in a car crash, time is of the essence. In fact, under the prevailing statute of limitations, car accident victims only have two years from their auto accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit in the court system.
Absent exceptional circumstances, the statute of limitations is a hard-and-fast rule. Therefore, if the accident victim runs afoul of the statute, they forever waive their legal right to recover monetary damages for their accident-related losses. To prevent this action from happening, accident victims must retain a skilled attorney to represent them as quickly as possible.
A personal injury lawyer in Atlanta can help you file a timely claim or lawsuit and can efficiently litigate your case through the court system. Moreover, your attorney will represent you at all legal proceedings, including depositions and civil jury trials, and help you achieve the highest possible result in your case.