What To Expect After a Car Accident

October 3, 2023 | By DJC Law Attorneys
What To Expect After a Car Accident

Car accidents can lead to debilitating injuries that leave a driver or passenger incapacitated for a long time. In addition to following through with your medical treatment regimen, one of the most important steps you can take after a motor vehicle crash is to retain an experienced car accident lawyer to represent you throughout your case.

Your attorney can answer all your legal questions, address your concerns, and advise what to expect in your car accident case, including settlement negotiations and possibly litigation. If your case proceeds to litigation, your lawyer can represent you at all legal proceedings and prepare you to testify at a discovery deposition, civil jury trial, or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceeding.

Throughout the process, your lawyer will aggressively advocate for your legal rights and interests. They will do everything possible to maximize your total monetary award via a favorable settlement offer or litigation result.

Common Causes of Local Car Accidents

Local car accidents are usually the result of driver error. When a driver violates a traffic law and deviates from the standard of care, they can cause an accident that results in severe injuries.

One common cause of local car accidents is traffic law violations. For example, a driver may speed excessively, fail to use their turn signal when switching lanes, fail to use their mirrors, or fail to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle at the appropriate time.

In addition, many local car crashes happen because of road rage or aggressive driving. When some drivers hurry to reach their final destination, they will resort to almost any activity, from speeding and tailgating to aggressively weaving in and out of traffic without using their turn signals.

They may also cut off other vehicles at highway merge lanes and similar locations. As a result of an aggressive driver's reckless driving maneuvers, serious accidents may happen involving numerous other cars.

Distracted driving is also a leading cause of crashes, especially since the rise of cell phones, smartwatches, GPS, and other devices. Even if a driver believes they can safely look away from the road for a moment to read a text or check on a child in the back seat, that is easily enough time to crash into another car or pedestrian.

Too many car accidents result from intoxicated driving. Drivers are legally drunk if their blood alcohol concentration measures at least 0.08 percent. However, minors who are under twenty-one years of age, as well as commercial truck drivers, must follow stricter standards.

Alcohol intoxication is extremely dangerous and is likely to cause a severe car crash. This is because alcohol is a depressant, and it slows down the central nervous system's ability to function correctly. In addition, alcohol intoxication may lead to various physical symptoms, including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision.

When a driver experiences blurred vision, they might not even see an approaching vehicle. An intoxicated driver may also experience limited concentration, delayed reflexes, and slowed reaction time. Therefore, even if the drunk driver observes an approaching vehicle, they may not hit their brakes in time to avoid a collision.

If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle crash resulting from one of these driver errors, you are not alone. A skilled car accident attorney in your area can review your legal options with you after reviewing the facts and circumstances of your accident case.

Your lawyer can create a plan of action for pursuing the maximum monetary compensation available to you in your case.

Categories of Local Car Crashes

When drivers behave carelessly and negligently while behind the wheel, they may cause several types of car crashes.

Those crashes may include:

  • Rear-end or tailgate accidents, where a driver negligently causes the front of their vehicle to hit the back of another car, usually because they are speeding
  • Head-on collisions, where a driver negligently causes the front of their vehicle to hit the front of an oncoming car in an opposing travel lane
  • T-bone or broadside accidents, where a driver negligently fails to yield the right of way to intersecting traffic, causing the front of their vehicle to hit the side of another vehicle
  • Sideswipe accidents, where a driver negligently causes their vehicle to drift into another travel lane, striking the side of an adjacent car

If you sustained injuries in one of these accidents that resulted from driver error, your car accident attorney can handle every step of your personal injury claim or lawsuit.

Specifically, your lawyer can review the police report in your case or retain an accident reconstructionist to investigate the accident circumstances. Your lawyer can then pursue a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company.

Injuries in Car Accidents

Many car accidents lead to debilitating injuries. If you suffered one or more severe injuries in your car crash, you should anticipate a medical treatment regimen that the emergency room doctor or your primary care physician recommends. The injuries you sustain in your accident will depend on various factors, including the speeds of the involved vehicle, the type of accident that occurs, the collision force, and your bodily movements inside the car when the crash occurs.

If a part of your body strikes something inside the vehicle, such as the door frame, steering wheel, window, or headrest, you may suffer a severe head injury, including a traumatic brain injury or broken bone.

If your body moves forward and backward abruptly, you may suffer a soft tissue whiplash injury to your neck and back. Other potential injuries that you may suffer in a violent car crash include rib fractures, bruises, open lacerations, mouth and teeth injuries, eye injuries, spinal cord damage, and complete and incomplete paralysis injuries.

If your medical provider prescribes a treatment regimen for you, you should anticipate completing all your treatment until the medical provider discharges you from care. Removing yourself from a medical facility can have serious consequences.

First, your injury symptoms may resurface, causing you to experience severe pain and suffering. Additionally, if the at-fault driver's insurance company sees that you discharged yourself from medical treatment, they may become skeptical of your claimed injuries.

Specifically, they may contend that your injuries are not severe or that you did not prioritize medical treatment after your accident. Therefore, you must complete all the necessary medical care following your accident.

During this time, your car accident attorney can begin gathering essential documents in your case, including police reports, witness statements, medical treatment records, medical bills, and lost income documents from your employer. Your lawyer can assemble these documents into a settlement demand package and forward that package to the insurance company once your medical treatment concludes.

Recovering Monetary Damages for Car Accident Injuries

If you can satisfy the required burden of proof in your car accident claim, you can anticipate recovering various damages, depending upon the severity of the accident, the severity of your injuries, the medical treatment that you undergo, and the total cost of that medical treatment.

To be eligible for monetary compensation, you must satisfy several legal elements. First, you must demonstrate that the other driver violated one or more traffic laws, thereby causing your car accident. Additionally, you must show that you suffered at least one physical injury in your car accident and that that injury directly resulted from the car accident.

To prove medical causation in your car accident claim or lawsuit, your lawyer can retain an expert medical provider to draft a report or testify at a deposition or other legal proceeding in your case.

Specifically, a medical provider must be willing to state on the record and to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the injury or injuries you claim directly resulted from the car accident. If you suffered a permanent injury in your car crash, the medical expert can also state that fact on the record.

Your attorney can retain experts and gather the necessary documents to prove each legal element of your car accident claim or lawsuit.

How Car Accident Cases Usually Proceed

Once you involve a car accident attorney in your case, you should anticipate several specific stages.

First, your lawyer will prepare a settlement demand package and forward that information to the appropriate insurance company adjuster for review. Once the adjuster accepts fault for the car accident, you should anticipate settlement negotiations and possibly litigation.

Settlement Negotiations

In general, negotiations are a back-and-forth process between a car accident victim's attorney and the insurance company adjuster handling the case for the at-fault driver.

To start the negotiations, the personal injury lawyer will typically submit a settlement demand letter, stating the monetary settlement you seek within the at-fault driver's insurance policy coverage limits. The adjuster will then typically come back with a much lower offer. Insurance companies often take this approach for two reasons — to settle cases quickly and cheaply.

Despite what insurance companies often say, they are not interested in offering you fair or full monetary compensation for your car accident injuries. Rather, they want to resolve the case as quickly and cheaply as possible. The more that the insurance company has to pay out in your car accident claim, the less they can keep in-house for themselves.

Therefore, the insurance company will do everything possible to minimize the monetary compensation it owes you. Insurance companies might even try to argue that you somehow caused or contributed to your own accident or the injuries you suffered. They might also contend that one or more of your injuries are preexisting and unrelated to the car crash.

Your car accident lawyer can handle all communications with insurance company adjusters and work to obtain a fair settlement offer in your case. Your lawyer can point out the various strengths of your case, including medical records, injury photographs, photographs of the accident scene, and property damage photographs.

If the insurance company still refuses to increase its offer significantly, your lawyer can file a lawsuit in your case and pursue litigation in the court. Your attorney can also advise whether a particular offer is worth accepting, given the facts and circumstances of your case as well as the injuries you suffered in your accident.

Car Accident Litigation

If the insurance company refuses to offer you fair settlement compensation, then you should anticipate that litigation will occur. Litigation begins when a personal injury attorney files a lawsuit on behalf of an accident victim in the state court system. However, filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean the case will proceed to a civil jury trial. In fact, given the high costs of litigation, most car accident claims settle at some point out of court.

During litigation, you should expect:

  • Answering written interrogatories from the defense attorney
  • Testifying at a discovery deposition that the defense attorney takes
  • Attending one or more settlement conferences with the court

If your case does not settle during litigation, it will likely proceed to a civil jury trial. The jury will decide the outcome of all disputed issues at the trial, including monetary compensation.

Instead of taking your case to trial, your lawyer can recommend one or more alternative dispute resolution (ADR) proceedings, such as mediation or arbitration. Your lawyer can help you decide whether litigation is the right option for your car accident case and, if so, can represent you in all legal proceedings.

Speak with a Car Accident Attorney Near You Today

Dan Christensen, Car Accident Lawyer
Dan Christensen, Car Accident Attorney

If you recently suffered injuries in a local car accident, time is of the essence. This is because accident victims have only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking monetary recovery.

If an accident victim does not file a lawsuit on time, the court will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages for their accident-related losses. Therefore, your best bet is to retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you in your case as quickly as possible.

A car accident attorney can handle every aspect of your case, from gathering documents to negotiating settlements with insurance company adjusters to representing you at your civil jury trial or ADR proceeding. Your lawyer will aggressively advocate for you and pursue maximum monetary damages for your injuries every step of the way.