After The Crash: How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Protect Your Rights
At Morgan & Morgan, the attorneys in our offices understand the difficulties that can arise after a car accident. We have witnessed the injuries and damage that can result from a crash and understand the struggle some victims may face in trying to recover compensation for their losses.
There are specific rules and regulations that can complicate insurance claims and the recovery of additional damages, such as for pain and suffering, in cases of severe injury or death. In order to have a chance at receiving full compensation for your losses, contact an attorney who is well-versed in laws regarding auto accident claims.
At Morgan & Morgan, our car accident attorneys have handled automobile accident cases in several states and can help ensure that your rights are protected.
If you’ve been in a car accident and are unsure of your next step, please fill out our free case review form. Our firm will review your claim for free and determine if our car accident lawyers may be able to help.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
An attorney can help ensure you receive full benefits from the insurance company and determine whether you can file a claim for additional damages against the party at fault for the crash. If you have suffered a serious injury, we can help you file a lawsuit to claim compensation beyond that which is provided through insurance claims.
To be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit, the victim of the crash must have died or sustained a significant injury such as:
- Brain damage
- A significant head injury
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Broken bones
Once you’ve exhausted your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits and decide you want to take legal action against the driver at fault for the crash, our attorneys can begin preparing your claim by:
- Collecting police and accident scene reports
- Questioning witnesses
- Reconstructing the accident scene
- Taking photographs of the scene, damage, and injuries
- Analyzing medical reports
- Contacting expert witnesses to review evidence
- Speaking with the insurance providers on your behalf
The insurance company or negligent party from which you are attempting to collect compensation will work to categorize your injury as temporary, rather than permanent. Your attorney can collect and organize evidence on your behalf to rebut the defendant’s claims.
Seeking Additional Damages
The strength and success of your claim will likely hinge on the ability of your attorney to collect, analyze, and present evidence.
If you are seeking additional damages, your attorney will approach the negligent party’s insurance company in an attempt to recover compensation to cover your remaining costs. Your claim will be submitted for approval to the insurance company, which will have conducted an investigation of its own. The strength and success of your claim will likely hinge on the ability of your attorney to collect, analyze, and present evidence. The opposing insurance company will want to minimize their payout. Providing your attorney with as much information as possible can help strengthen your claim. If your attorney and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement, the case may proceed to trial.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Accidents
After exhausting PIP coverage, if the other driver has no other insurance or an amount of coverage that is insufficient to cover the costs related to your injury, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may cover the damage caused by the negligent party. If the negligent party was underinsured, your insurance will cover the difference between your losses and the amount you received from the other party’s insurance company. If you do not have this coverage, you should contact an attorney to obtain compensation for injuries resulting from the accident. An attorney may be able to seek damages from the negligent party’s homeowners’ insurance, your own insurance carrier or your health insurance provider.
Attempting to collect compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage can be complicated and will likely require the assistance of an experienced attorney. Your insurance company will likely try to limit your payout amount, based on their own investigation of the accident and how much they believe your claim is worth. If you receive an amount that you believe does not properly cover your losses, your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against your insurance company in an attempt to recover additional compensation.
Lawsuits for Additional Personal Injury Compensation
“No-fault” insurance law attempts to limit the number of lawsuits filed over minor car accidents. Civil suits to recover additional compensation for personal injury damages are only permitted under certain circumstances.
Types of Car Accident Claims
Most car accidents rely on the concept of negligence, or the party’s failure to exercise a certain level of caution while operating a vehicle or using common roads. The attorney, and your insurance company, will conduct a preliminary investigation to identify whether you were, in fact, not responsible for the accident.
To have the best chances of receiving compensation, the attorney must prove that the defendant failed to meet a reasonable standard of care and that his or her negligence caused the accident. Some examples of defendants are negligent drivers, reckless drivers, intoxicated drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
If your vehicle, or the other party’s vehicle, had a defect contributed to the accident, the injured party may have a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or one of its parts. If the car had a faulty design, or a manufacturing and labeling issue, the manufacturer can be held responsible regardless of who was actually at fault for the accident.
To prevail, your attorney must prove that you were not at fault for the accident as the defect that caused the accident occurred during the manufacturing process. Oftentimes expert testimony and analysis is used as evidence to prove that the defect contributed in some party to the accident. Successful lawsuits will require the plaintiff to show:
- The defective car or part was “unreasonably dangerous”
- The vehicle was being operated as intended
- The vehicle’s performance had not changed since its initial purchase
Claims are usually filed against manufacturers in the case of defective parts such as seatbelts, airbags, accelerators, brakes, and engines.
In some cases, faulty construction, design, or maintenance of roads can contribute to accidents. Some common causes include:
Embankments: When a road curves, the outer edge is set at an incline as a safety precaution. These raised areas serve the purpose of managing traffic so that vehicles can approach the outer edge of the road without driving off it. If the embankment is too steep or not elevated properly, motorists may be in danger.
Barriers and Guard Rails: Barriers, guard rails, speed bumps, medians, and curbs help to influence safe driving. If any of these structures are poorly designed or placed, driver safety may be compromised.
Surfaces: Various alterations in road surface alert drivers of approaching hazards or that they are leaving their lane unexpectedly.
Signage: Signs give drivers prior notice of approaching intersections, sharp turns, animal crossings, etc. They should be positioned in obvious locations and brightly illuminated for maximum visibility.
Traffic Control: Traffic lights, stop and yield signs, lights to warn drivers of intersections and crosswalks, and other devices are utilized to dictate traffic flow. Proper placement and operation of these devices is imperative.
If you have lost a loved one in a car crash, you may have legal recourse through a wrongful death lawsuit. In these cases, the family or survivors of the victim must prove that their loved one was killed as a result of another’s negligence. Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages may be available.
Car Accident Injuries and Compensation
Because each accident is different, the extent of injuries suffered will vary between cases. In many cases, the costs for treatment of the injuries sustained will not be covered by PIP insurance and will require additional litigation or negotiations. Some injuries that we may attempt to collect compensation for include:
- Burns and scars
- Loss of limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Joint, muscle, back, neck, and bone injuries
- Knee damage
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
Economic auto accident damages, also known as compensatory damages, attempt to compensate the injured car crash victim for his or her monetary losses. Common economic damages awarded in car accident lawsuits include:
Medical Expenses: This could include expenses for emergency room visits, hospitalization, emergency surgery, any assistive devices and future appointments with a medical professional.
Future Medical Expenses: If the car accident victim can prove that they will need continued medical care as a result of the crash, they may be able to recover the cost of future medical expenses.
Lost Wages: Car accident victims who have been injured can seek compensation for lost wages from the time of injury to the conclusion of the lawsuit. Even if the victim was unemployed, he or she could receive compensation for lost wages if the attorney can prove that the accident limited his or her earning potential.
Loss of Earning Capacity: If you sustained injuries that prevent you from working, you may be able to receive compensation by proving that your earning capacity was negatively impacted by the incident. In this case, the jury will typically determine the amount the victim could have earned if the car accident had not occurred.
Non-economic car accident damages award the plaintiff for non-financial losses. Car accident damages for non-monetary losses are typically harder to quantify and may include compensation for the following:
Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for the pain and suffering you faced after the accident. In awarding damages for pain and suffering, the jury will examine the extent of your injuries, including how long you are expected to suffer, the nature of the injury, and what financial burdens the incident places on you and your family.
Mental Anguish: You may also be able to attain compensation for the emotional pain you faced after the incident. Mental anguish, for example, can include feelings of fright, nervousness, worry, grief, and any other type of emotional trauma a victim can face after a devastating accident.
Loss of Consortium: If you were the spouse of the car accident victim, you may be able to procure compensation for the unique losses you face such as loss of marital benefits, including companionship, sexual relations, affection, and comfort.
Punitive Damages: If the actions of the defendant were so malicious or egregious, the jury may impose punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Types of Accident Cases Our Attorneys Handle
Morgan & Morgan handles a variety of personal injury cases resulting from car accidents, including those stemming from:
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Rear-end collisions
- Side-impact collisions
- Sideswipe collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Multiple party accidents
If you have been in an automobile accident, you should contact a car accident attorney as soon as you can. There is a limited window in which you can file a claim with an attorney. To get started with your car accident lawsuit, contact us by filling out our free, no-obligation case review form.