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When to Hire an Attorney after a Car Accident

When to Hire an Attorney after a Car Accident

If you recently sustained injuries in a car accident, retain legal counsel to represent you as quickly as possible. If you wait too long to find legal representation in your case, you may run afoul of the statute of limitations. Most states only allow car accident victims two years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit for monetary damages, and some allow less.

Aside from a few exceptions, if they file their lawsuit even one day after the statutory deadline expires, they cannot recover any monetary damages for their accident-related injuries, property damage, and other losses.

The sooner you retain legal counsel to represent you in your case, the higher your chances of success.

An attorney can enter an appearance on your behalf immediately and begin securing the monetary recovery you deserve by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or pursuing litigation in the court system.

Your car accident lawyer can also attend all legal proceedings with you, including discovery depositions, jury trials, and binding arbitration hearings. Your attorney will do everything they can to safeguard your legal rights at every stage of the proceedings and pursue the highest amount of monetary recovery available to you in your case.

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Categories of Car Accidents

Car accidents come in all shapes and sizes, and the nature and extent of an accident victim’s injuries typically vary from case to case. First, head-on crashes happen when the fronts of two vehicles traveling in opposite directions hit one another.

The at-fault driver might not be observing the road, or they may be under the influence of alcohol, causing them to veer across the centerline or median strip and hit another vehicle.

In contrast, sideswipe accidents usually happen when vehicles traveling in the same direction but in adjacent travel lanes brush against one another. In some cases, the force of a sideswipe accident may be so severe that the vehicle on the receiving end winds up in another travel lane or off the road entirely.

A rear-end accident happens when the front of one vehicle abruptly strikes the back of another, usually because the negligent driver is speeding or not observing the road.

Finally, a T-bone or broadside accident happens when the front of a vehicle strikes the side of a car traveling on an intersecting road. These accidents may also occur when a driver negligently backs out of a parking space at a parking lot or parking garage, fails to use their mirrors or backup camera, and hits the side of an oncoming vehicle.

If you sustained injuries in one of these car crashes that occurred because of another driver’s negligence, you should immediately seek the legal help you need. A car accident attorney in your area can evaluate your claim and help you take the legal action necessary to pursue monetary recovery in your case.

Injuries that Car Accident Victims May Experience

Drivers and passengers in car crashes may suffer severe injuries that leave them hospitalized and under extensive medical care. The injuries that a car crash victim ultimately experiences will depend largely upon where they sat in the vehicle, the force of the collision, the number of collisions, and how their body moved inside their car during the crash.

Accident victims may need to consult with a primary care doctor, attend physical therapy appointments, or meet with a medical specialist, such as an orthopedic doctor or neurologist, following their accident.

Some of the most common car accident injuries that require medical treatment include:

  • Open lacerations that require stitches
  • Internal bleeding and organ damage
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Full and partial paralysis
  • Fractures
  • Broken ribs
  • Traumatic head and brain injuries, such as concussions and comas

While you follow through with your prescribed medical treatment regimen, a car accident attorney in your area can begin working on your case and helping you recover the monetary damages you need. For example, your lawyer can start gathering the necessary medical records and assembling a settlement demand package or lawsuit to file in your case.

How Do Most Car Accidents Happen?

Dangerous car accidents are, unfortunately, an all-too-common occurrence nationwide. In many situations, these accidents happen when other drivers commit traffic law violations or otherwise drive recklessly and carelessly. When drivers excessively violate traffic laws, they highly increase their chances of causing a motor vehicle crash that causes injuries to other drivers and passengers.

One of the most common causes of motor vehicle crashes is road rage. Road rage occurs when a driver resorts to various reckless and dangerous driving maneuvers in an attempt to get ahead of other traffic.

For example, an angry driver might regularly exceed the posted speed limit, fail to yield the right-of-way to other vehicles, tailgate other cars, fail to use their turn signal, or attempt to cut other vehicles off in traffic. Unfortunately, these negligent driving maneuvers may inadvertently cause an accident and injuries.

Next, some motor vehicle crashes happen when drivers become distracted while behind the wheel. Distracted driving occurs when individuals fail to watch the road in front and behind them attentively.

Instead of watching the road and using their mirrors and other safety features, distracted drivers might text on a mobile device, program a GPS navigation system, read an email, or adjust their stereo system while attempting to drive.

Moreover, vehicle passengers may cause distractions for drivers and divert their attention away from the road. When this happens, a driver can quickly lose focus and may not see an approaching vehicle or pedestrian, causing an accident.

Excessive traffic law violations are another unfortunate cause of traffic accidents. Some drivers do not yield the right-of-way to other vehicles at the appropriate times or may exceed the speed limit, especially in busy highway traffic. A driver may also fail to use their rearview and side view mirrors while driving or parking.

Finally, some motor vehicle crashes directly result from intoxicated and drugged driving. Under state law, a driver is legally intoxicated by alcohol if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) meets or exceeds 0.08 percent. This threshold applies to passenger vehicle drivers, but drivers under 21 and commercial vehicle drivers (including truck drivers) must follow stricter standards.

Drivers who sustain a conviction in criminal court may incur various penalties, including monetary fines, jail time, or probation. In addition, if a drunk driver causes an accident that leads to physical injuries, they may need to pay the accident victim monetary compensation, through their insurance company, as part of a civil claim.

Intoxicated driving limits a driver’s focus, as well as their reflexes and reaction time. It may also blur a driver’s vision and prevent them from seeing another vehicle and responding appropriately.

If you sustained injuries in a car accident resulting from one of these types of negligence, you should immediately consult legal counsel. Your attorney can discuss your options and embark on a course of action to pursue the monetary recovery you deserve.

How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help With My Case?

One of the most critical steps following a car accident is to retain a skilled lawyer to represent you at every stage of the proceedings. Having a lawyer on board can streamline the process and ensure that you maximize the monetary compensation you recover for your accident-related injuries.

Gathering Documents on Your Behalf

First, a good car accident lawyer can help you gather the documents necessary to prove your car accident claim. Specifically, your attorney can obtain copies of the police report, lost income documents, medical records, medical bills, injury photographs, photographs of the accident scene, property damage photographs, and eyewitness statements.

Your lawyer can then assemble all these documents into a settlement demand package for the insurance company adjuster to review after you complete your medical treatment.

Upon review, the insurance company adjuster will determine whether to accept fault for your case. If that happens, the adjuster may make an opening offer to resolve your case through a personal injury settlement.

Investigating Your Accident Circumstances

In some cases, insurance companies dispute fault for an auto accident. After all, insurance companies have a strong incentive to resolve car accident claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. The more money an insurance company has to pay out as part of a personal injury settlement, the less it can keep in-house.

One of the ways that insurance companies limit their liability is by denying fault for car accidents. If that happens in your case, your attorney can help you retain an expert accident reconstructionist to investigate your accident circumstances, visit the scene, speak with witnesses, and talk with you about what happened.

The accident reconstructionist can then draft a report detailing how the accident occurred, the events leading up to the accident, and who caused the accident. An accident reconstructionist can also testify at a discovery deposition or jury trial to support your case.

Filing a Claim and Negotiating With Insurance Company Representatives

If the insurance company adjuster accepts liability in your auto accident case, your attorney can begin pursuing settlement compensation for you. Negotiating with insurance company adjusters is often an uphill battle, and it may take several weeks or months before the parties reach an amicable settlement.

During settlement negotiations, the accident victim’s lawyer will start with a settlement demand letter, to which the insurance company will respond. The accident victim’s lawyer might gradually decrease their settlement demand amount while the adjuster gradually increases their settlement offer amount.

These negotiations may continue until the parties come to a resolution. Alternatively, the parties may not agree, and the accident victim’s attorney might need to file a lawsuit in court.

Filing a Lawsuit

The litigation process officially begins when the accident victim’s attorney files suit. During this time, the parties will exchange relevant documents and answer written questions, called Interrogatories, about how the accident occurred and the injuries and medical treatment the victim experienced. In addition, the defense attorney for the insurance company may take the accident victim’s discovery deposition and ask them additional questions in more detail.

Following the deposition, the defense lawyer will typically submit a report to the adjuster about how the deposition went and how the accident victim testified. The adjuster may then decide to increase their settlement offer. If the case does not settle during litigation, the parties can pursue a result in the court system or turn to alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Taking a Case to Court

If the parties cannot resolve their case out of court, they can pursue a result at a civil jury trial. During the trial, the lawyers will make opening statements and closing arguments.

They will also introduce evidence on behalf of their clients. For example, the accident victim’s attorney may present direct testimony from the accident victim and testimony from expert witnesses, such as medical experts.

The parties may also introduce relevant medical documents and bills, such as expert reports from treating medical providers. After the jury trial, the jury will review all this evidence and decide the outcome of all disputed issues. For example, the jury will typically decide on monetary compensation to award the accident victim.

Instead of taking a case to trial, the parties may consider one or more types of ADR. For example, they can pursue mediation with a third-party mediator who can help them focus their settlement discussions. Also, instead of a jury trial, they can pursue binding arbitration when an arbitrator hears the evidence and decides the issue of monetary damages in the case.

Recovering Monetary Damages for Accident-related Losses

The ultimate monetary damages that a car crash victim recovers in a personal injury case usually depend on the severity of the accident victim’s injuries, the cost of their medical treatment, the specific circumstances surrounding their auto accident, and other accident-related factors.

Every car crash case is different, so the monetary compensation that one accident victim recovers may be significantly higher or lower than the compensation other accident victims recover.

Types of monetary damages that an accident victim can pursue include compensation for all related:

  • Lost earnings
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Past and anticipated medical costs
  • Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Lifetime care costs
  • Pain and suffering, both past and future
  • Loss of the ability to use a body part, such as from a paralysis injury
  • Loss of life enjoyment

Your car accident attorney can introduce the evidence necessary to help you maximize your monetary damages. Moreover, your lawyer will aggressively negotiate with insurance company representatives on your behalf to secure the best possible result in your case.

Speak With a Local Car Crash Attorney Today

Greg Bentley & Keith More - Experienced Car Crash cases lawyer in Newport Beach, CA

Greg Bentley & Keith More Car Crash Attorney in Newport Beach, CA

In any car accident claim or lawsuit, time is always of the essence. This is because accident victims only have a limited amount of time after their crash to seek monetary recovery for their injuries. Therefore, involve skilled legal counsel to represent you as quickly as possible in your case.

Your personal injury attorney in Orange County can file a timely personal injury claim, file a lawsuit on your behalf, and litigate your case to an efficient resolution in court.

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