Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Auto Accident Lawsuits and Finding a Car Accident Lawyer
The National Highway Traffic Administration reports that a car crash occurs every minute of every day in America. That amounts to 1,440 crashes every day, 10,080 every week and 524,600 every year. Not surprisingly, this many crashes lead to many injuries and death. The National Safety Council reports that in 2019 alone, 38,404 people died in car crashes and 4.4 million people suffered serious injuries.
Unfortunately, statistics show that you likely will be in three or four auto accidents during your lifetime. This, in turn, means that you stand a very good chance of having to file an auto accident lawsuit more than once. Learn about how a local car accident lawyer can help you after you’re injured in a crash.
Car Accident Lawsuit Basics
If you’ve been fortunate enough to avoid car crash injuries so far, you probably have not given much thought to personal injury lawsuits, what they entail and how they proceed.
Essentially, when you file a car accident lawsuit, you sue the person, usually another driver, who caused the accident and your consequent injuries. This is a civil suit, meaning that you’re seeking monetary damages from the defendant to compensate you for your injuries.
You can engage the services of a car accident attorney to file your suit in the appropriate court. You’ll then enter into negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company, assuming they had auto insurance. It should come as no surprise to you that insurance companies don’t like to pay claims. Therefore, accident attorneys have their work cut out for them from the very beginning. While the insurance company’s lawyers tries their best to pay you as little as possible, your attorney can aggressively advocates on your behalf for the largest possible settlement amount. These negotiations often take months and ultimately may come to naught. If so, your attorney then proceeds to try your case before a jury.
Statutes of Limitation
Each state has its own laws setting forth the time period in which you must file your lawsuit after your accident. Generally, these statutes of limitation provide for a two- or three-year period. The time may be less, however, if the person you’re suing was a government employee driving a work vehicle at the time of your accident. Again, this is one of the biggest reasons why you need an experienced local car accident attorney. They will know which of your state’s statutes of limitations applies to your situation.
Virtually all car accident lawyers base their suits on negligence. This means that you’re alleging that something the other driver did or failed to do caused the accident.
For a car accident attorney to win a negligence lawsuit, you must prove the following four elements:
- That the defendant owed you a duty of care
- That they breached that duty
- That his or her breach caused the accident
- That you suffered damages which the defendant should compensate you for
Duty of Care and Breach of Duty
The first and second elements go together. Since every driver owes every other driver the duty of operating his or her vehicle in such a manner so as not to cause accidents and injuries, proving the first element is fairly easy. The fact that the defendant’s vehicle hit your vehicle, assuming that this is what happened, shows that they were not exercising the reasonable care your state’s statutes require of drivers.
Additional evidence of the defendant’s breach of his or her duty could be any of the following, especially if they received a citation for it:
- Texting while driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Weaving into your traffic lane
- Rear-ending you while you were stopped at a red light or stop sign
The third negligence element is that of causation. For this you must prove that the defendant’s action was the proximate cause of the accident. Proximate cause is a legal term meaning an action that produces foreseeable consequences without anyone else’s intervention. Something a car accident lawyer can help you prove. Another way to look at proximate cause is the “but for” analysis, i.e, but for the defendant’s action, the accident would not have occurred.
The fourth negligence element requires you to prove that the injuries you received in the accident resulted in your sustaining costs and the amount thereof. This will cover everything from medical costs for a shoulder injury, or wage compensation from lost work.
With regard to all four elements, your burden of proof is that of a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, for a car accident lawyer to win your lawsuit, you must present evidence sufficient to convince the jury that the facts your alleging are more likely true than false. Some people call this the “51% rule” since for all practical purposes your evidence must make the jury 51% sure that they should rule in your favor.
You claim two types of damages with your car accident lawyer in a car accident lawsuit: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages consist of such things as:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medication bills
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Loss of income
- Household expenses caused by your injuries
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses
All of the above include not only the amount you’ve paid to date but also the reasonable amount you expect to pay in the future.
Noneconomic damages refer to the subjective costs of your injuries and consist of such things as:
- The physical pain and suffering you endure
- The mental and psychological anguish you experience
- The distress you feel about the scars and disfigurement your injuries leave
- The physical impairment you must now deal with
- The depression you undergo as a result of knowing that your life may never be the same
- The decrease in your enjoyment of life brought about by all of the above
How We Can Help
We at Request Legal Help know how difficult it is for you to find the legal help you need, especially if this is your first experience with a car accident lawyer or lawsuits. Our mission is to make your search easier by connecting you with a local car accident lawyer who will strenuously advocate for you. We have lawyers across the country who are experienced in over 20 legal categories, including personal injury. Furthermore, we never charge you for our connection services.