How to Ensure That You Receive FULL Compensation for Your Car Accident Injuries and Property Damage Claim
Whether you or your loved one are killed in a car accident or you escape with only minor injuries, the dedicated car accident attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP want you to know that you have legal rights that may entitle you to compensation for any expenses, losses, and/or injuries associated with your car wreck.
Our experienced auto accident lawyers want to assist you in obtaining this compensation because we believe that drivers who choose to disregard basic rules of safety and endanger others on the roadway should be held accountable for these decisions when they cause you or your loved one injury.
National Car Accident Statistics
Car crashes occur with frightening regularity in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) publication “Quick Facts 2016”, during the year 2016:
- A total of 34,439 fatality crashes killed a total of 37,461 people;
- These fatality crashes were just as likely to occur in urban areas versus rural areas (a total of 17,656 fatalities occurred in an urban area while 18,590 occurred in a rural setting);
- Over one hundred people died every single day in a traffic-related fatality crash, with 29 of these being alcohol-related;
- In 2015 (the most recent year for which NHTSA statistics are available), 6,693 people were injured every day in traffic crashes – an increase of nearly 300 people injured per day over 2014.
What these numbers do not – indeed, what they cannot – tell is the heartbreaking and unfortunate stories of the victims and surviving family members of some of these crashes. While some car wrecks are mere “fender benders” which do little more than dent a bumper or car door, other crashes are true tragedies that claim the lives of innocent motorists and passengers who are simply trying to go about their daily business.
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The Common Causes of Car Wrecks
The injuries, disabilities, and loss of limbs and even lives that accompany car wrecks are tragic, but what is even more saddening is the realization that many of these wrecks and crashes are not the result of uncontrollable circumstances but are the direct consequence of one or more drivers’ thoughtless or reckless decisions behind the wheel.
There are many examples of such decisions that can support a claim for compensation, including:
- Texting while driving or otherwise being distracted behind the wheel – whether that “other distraction” is another passenger or child in the car, the radio, other traffic, or a roadside distraction;
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, even if the drug or drugs are prescription medications that the driver is legally permitted to consume or over-the-counter medications that are readily available for purchase;
- Driving too fast; that is, either exceeding the speed limit or driving at so great of a speed that the driver is unable to safely brake or control his or her car;
- Failing to observe other traffic laws and unwritten “rules of the road”: failing to properly signal before making a turn, for example, or making an illegal U-turn;
- Driving a car, truck, or other type of vehicle that is in a state of disrepair because its tires, brakes, windshield, or other necessary component are in a defective state;
- Other careless, thoughtless, or reckless behavior.
When a car crash does occur, one of the most important “first steps” that you and your passengers can take is to seek help from emergency medical personnel by either summoning an ambulance crew to your location and/or proceeding to the nearest emergency room for evaluation and treatment. Not only does this help ensure that you and your loved ones’ health is safeguarded, but it also helps protect your car wreck lawsuit from claims that your failure to seek medical care was the cause of your injuries and losses.
The Types of Compensation You May Be Awarded
So long as there is a causal, “but for” connection between an injury, expense, and/or loss and the careless actions of another driver, you will generally be able to obtain a monetary damages award from that other driver to compensate you for that injury, expense, or loss.
This compensation (or “damages”) can help ensure you need not find the resources to pay for:
- Medical bills that are the result of surgeries, treatments, rehabilitative services, and/or therapy sessions that are necessary following your crash to restore your health, mobility, and capabilities;
- Wages that you were not able to earn because you needed to miss work in order to recover from your injuries, attend doctors’ appointments, or were in too much pain to work;
- Any income you will not be able to realize in the future because of your injuries. For example, if you were working at a physically-intensive job and making $35 per hour but your injuries will not permit you to return to this position, you may be able to recover the difference between your prior wage of $35 per hour and the rate of pay of any new position you accept.
- The costs of prescription drugs, medical assistive devices, and/or home health services that may be ordered by your doctor and/or necessary as a matter of course in your case;
- Funeral and burial or cremation costs, if your loved one died as a result of his or her injuries;
- Mental pain, anguish, and suffering that your injuries cause you to experience, including a loss of enjoyment of life because of not being able to participate in the activities you once enjoyed before your accident; and
- Other losses and expenses.
A successful car crash lawsuit can mean the difference between personal and financial ruin and success for you and your family, so it is imperative that you seek out knowledgeable and experienced legal advice and representation from Parker Waichman LLP as soon as possible following your car crash. We will help guide you through the accident recovery process and assist you in obtaining the maximum amount of compensation possible so you can begin to reassemble your life following your car crash.
Do I Have Grounds for a Car Accident Claim?
Any successful car wreck lawsuit requires evidence showing that one or more other persons engaged in careless (or “negligent”) behavior and that this behavior was the sole or primary cause of your injuries. While proving that certain actions and/or behaviors were negligent may not seem like a heavy burden, it is not always clear whether the line between reasonable and unreasonable behavior has been crossed. In order for a driver’s actions to be considered negligent, the actions he or she took must be so unreasonable that any other reasonable driver would not have chosen to act in the same way. In other words, if a hypothetical, objective and reasonable driver would have behaved in the same or a similar way as the driver in your case acted, then the driver in your case will not likely be found to have acted negligently. If you fail to prove carelessness or negligence in your case, then your claim for compensation will be denied.
Similarly, the other driver’s careless behavior must be the cause of your injuries and financial and physical losses. If there are other “causes” that contributed to the crash – including your own careless behavior (such as not seeking prompt treatment for your injuries) – such causes will be handled according to the laws of the state in which your claim is filed. Some states will deny your claim altogether if your own carelessness played any role whatsoever in your injuries and losses; other states will permit you to recover some compensation so long as you are not the primary cause of either the crash or your resulting injuries. It can take a skilled legal mind and a persuasive presentation of the evidence in order to maximize the amount of your compensation award.
Your claim for compensation may also be weakened if you cannot prove with some certainty the monetary value of your crash-related expenses and losses. While certain losses are not difficult to prove – an invoice or statement from your insurance provider may establish the amount of medical expenses incurred in your case – establishing the dollar-value of your mental pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life can be tricky. Again, skilled legal counsel can give you a decided advantage in pulling together the evidence and testimony you need to prove your economic and noneconomic losses, thereby helping ensure you have the maximum possibility of obtaining a full financial recovery.
You may not have a claim for compensation if you waited too long to file your lawsuit. This is because each jurisdiction has its own statute of limitations. These laws act to prevent a car wreck lawsuit from being pursued if it is filed too long after the wreck occurred. Some states may only give you one or two years from the date of your crash to initiate your claim by filing a lawsuit. Once the statute of limitations expires, a court may dismiss your lawsuit no matter how much harm you suffered or how clear the evidence of the other driver’s carelessness is. Because time is of the essence following a car wreck, contact your car crash injury attorneys as soon as possible.
Process of a Car Crash Injury Case
Although you may not be familiar with the laws and statutes governing car crash lawsuits, learning the steps through which your lawsuit will proceed can help alleviate stress and anxiety you may have about the status of your case. Every car wreck claim for compensation begins with you, the injured motorist, filing your complaint or petition in the appropriate court. This initial document briefly sets forth the facts and law that you believe shows that the other driver involved in your crash acted carelessly and in so doing caused your injuries.
A case will next proceed to discovery in which you and the other parties involved in your dispute will formally and informally exchange evidence, documents, reports, and information about any witnesses you intend to use to support your claim for compensation at trial. This process aims to enable all sides to have a fair opportunity to prepare their cases and encourage parties to settle disputes early if the evidence is clearly not in their favor.
Finally, a case that does not settle or is not resolved through some other means will proceed to trial. At trial, you have a burden to show that the other driver(s) involved in your crash acted in a negligent manner and this behavior caused you to become injured and suffer a loss that can be compensated through a financial award. If you meet this burden, the judge or jury hearing your case will return a verdict in your favor and will decide how much compensation you should receive for your losses. If you fail to meet this burden, no compensation will be awarded to you.
Once the trial is complete and a verdict has been returned by the judge or jury, the losing party may have a right to appeal the verdict to an appellate court. An appellate court will review the proceedings in the trial court for legal errors and flagrant abuses of power and, if any are found, will generally send the case back to the trial court for a new trial or other remedial action. Otherwise, the appellate court will affirm the verdict and the verdict will become final.
Car Crash Injury Claim FAQs
The car wreck injury lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP receive and answer a multitude of questions every single day. This is important: at Parker Waichman LLP we believe it is our duty and obligation to our clients to equip them with the knowledge necessary to understand their rights and make informed decisions about how to protect them. Common questions we regularly receive include:
How long will my car crash lawsuit take to complete?
The time it will take your lawsuit to resolve is dependent upon factors such as the strength of the evidence in your case, whether you and the other parties involved desire to reach a settlement, and the complexity of the facts leading to the crash. Most lawsuits can be resolved either through a verdict or settlement within several months to a year (approximately). Complex car wrecks may take one or more years before there would be a verdict.
Do all cases settle? Will my car crash lawsuit settle?
While the vast majority of car wreck lawsuits settle (some believe that as many as nine out of every ten cases settle), not all cases will You and the other party or parties involved will ultimately decide whether it makes sense to settle your case. Settlement agreements generally offer you monetary compensation more quickly than had you proceeded to trial, but you often receive less compensation than you would had you won at trial. Moreover, settlement agreements usually require you, the injured victim, to give up certain rights. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to speak with your attorney first before agreeing to any settlement.
Doesn’t insurance pay for my injuries after a car crash? Why would I need to file a lawsuit?
Not all drivers carry insurance with policy limits adequate enough to fully compensate you following a crash. A car wreck lawsuit can help ensure you get the full amount of compensation you need for your losses. In some states, your own automobile insurance carrier is responsible for paying for your expenses and injuries. Even in these “no fault” states, however, you may still be able to file a lawsuit if your injuries are significant.
Should I contact or speak with the other party and/or his or her insurance company directly?
If you retain our services, we will handle all communications with the other parties, their attorneys, and/or their insurance carriers on your behalf. If you choose to handle your case on your own, you will need to communicate with these individuals and entities yourself. We would caution you about making statements to the other parties involved in your case without having first spoken with an attorney yourself. Certain statements made (even those made with the most innocent of motivations) can dramatically and negatively impact the viability of your car wreck lawsuit.
You may have additional questions that are specific to your case. No question is too small or insignificant: Parker Waichman LLP will answer all of your questions in a timely manner so you can rest easy knowing your legal rights and your lawsuit are both in experienced and well-qualified hands.
How Can a Car Crash Injury Lawyer Help Me?
Your car wreck injury lawyer from Parker Waichman LLP is more than a trusted legal counselor and advocate: he or she is a reliable guide who can help you navigate the legal landscape – an environment that can be confusing and be intimidating to those who are not familiar with the language, rules, procedures, and norms of the legal arena. You can expect your attorney to:
Prepare your initial pleadings and subsequent motions.
Legal documents must generally conform to certain formatting requirements. Documents submitted to the court that do not comply with these rules may be rejected by the court without being filed and without any ruling on them. Your attorney is well-versed in these requirements and is able to ensure any necessary documents are properly formatted and timely filed with the court so as to protect your rights and advance your lawsuit.
Help you secure witnesses and evidence.
Your claim for compensation will not be successful if the only evidence you intend to present is your own testimony. Other witnesses (sometimes experts in accident reconstruction or other fields) and evidence like reports, diagrams, and photographs must also be presented in support of your claims and assertions. Your lawyer not only knows the quantity and type of evidence most likely to help your claim prevail but can assist you in locating and securing the attendance of witnesses and the availability of evidence at trial.
Equip you and your family with information so you can make good decisions regarding your case.
There will be several junctures during the pendency of your case where you will need to make decisions regarding the direction of your auto collision case. These are weighty decisions, and your attorney can help you understand the ramifications of choosing one option over another. For example, your attorney can explain the terms of a settlement offer made to you by the other party and help you understand the positive and negative attributes of accepting the offer extended to you.
We believe that our experience and knowledge enable us to provide a real benefit to our clients in and out of the courtroom. With an attorney from Parker Waichman LLP at your side, you are better prepared to successfully resolve your case and address any challenges or obstacles that may prevent or delay you from receiving your compensation award.
Talk with One of Our Car Crash Injury Attorneys Today
When you or a loved one have been hurt in a car wreck caused by another careless driver, you do not need to remain in the role of a “victim”. You can take charge of your life and your future by acting swiftly to protect your legal rights. When another driver chooses to drive in a negligent manner, and you incur medical bills, missed time from work, and other similar expenses, you may be entitled to have these expenses and losses compensated. Whether through a settlement or a successful lawsuit, Parker Waichman can help you obtain a favorable outcome in a timely manner.
Dial 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) as soon as possible to speak with Parker Waichman LLP about your ability to recover monetary damages. We will evaluate your case and, if you retain our services, will devote our resources and talents to your recovery.
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