Traffic accidents, including those involving cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians, and motorcycles, can lead to devastating injuries. Most of the time, these accidents directly result from another driver's negligence and recklessness. However, accident victims have a limited time to file a personal injury claim seeking monetary compensation and damages.
Each state has different deadlines for lawsuits called statutes of limitations. These periods vary from one year to six years, though most states fall within the two to three-year range.
For example, in Illinois, accident victims only have two years from their accident date to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit for monetary recovery. If an accident victim files their claim or lawsuit belatedly, the court will dismiss the case and they will not recover any monetary damages.
Although there are some very limited exceptions to statutes of limitations, you should treat the two-year deadline as a hard-and-fast deadline and assume that it applies to the facts and circumstances of your case. Never assume you qualify for an exception without hearing it from a car accident attorney in your area.
To prevent the statute of limitations from running in your case, you should speak with experienced legal counsel as quickly as possible after your accident. A skilled accident and injury attorney in your area can file a claim or lawsuit in your case right away, ensuring that you remain eligible to collect monetary damages for your accident-related losses.
Your attorney can also assist you throughout the claims-filing process by negotiating with insurance company representatives on your behalf and pursuing a favorable monetary settlement.
In addition, if the insurance company does not compensate you fairly, your attorney can file a lawsuit and litigate your case in the court system for an efficient resolution.
How Do These Accidents Happen?
Car and truck accidents, along with accidents that involve motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians, usually occur when people drive negligently. Sometimes, negligent driving means distracted driving, where an individual fails to observe the road.
For example, a distracted driver might be looking at a cellular device, programming a GPS, or fiddling with a stereo system rather than watching the road and their mirrors. If drivers fail to watch the road attentively, they significantly increase their chances of causing an accident.
Another common cause of motor vehicle crashes is traffic law violations. Some of the most common violations that lead to traffic crashes include:
- Failing to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle or pedestrian at the appropriate time
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Aggressively weaving in and out of traffic
- Failing to use turn signals
Another violation that can cause serious crashes and injuries is road rage, where a driver loses their temper because of a real or imagined circumstance that arises while driving. Typical indicators of road rage include speeding, cutting other drivers off in traffic, and failing to use turn signals.
Unfortunately, an enraged driver may not watch the road attentively or may intentionally cause a severe traffic crash.
Some traffic crashes directly result from intoxicated driving. While minor drivers under 21 years old and commercial vehicle drivers must follow stricter standards, most passenger vehicle drivers are legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent.
A driver who sustains a criminal conviction for DUI (or some other drunk driving offense) may receive administrative and criminal penalties, including monetary fines, probation, and even jail time. Moreover, if the drunk driver causes a traffic accident, they may be civilly liable to the accident victim through their insurance company.
Drunk driving is extremely dangerous and is very likely to cause vehicle accidents. This is because drunk drivers often lack concentration and inattentiveness to the road. They may also drive erratically, experience blurred vision, or suffer delayed reflexes and reaction time. Consequently, an intoxicated driver might be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash.
If you suffered injuries in a recent motor vehicle accident because of another driver's negligence, you should immediately learn your legal options.
A knowledgeable car accident attorney in your area can review your accident circumstances, review your options with you, and help you embark on a course of action to pursue the financial recovery you deserve.
Some of the most common types of vehicle crashes that result from negligent driving include:
- Pedestrian accidents, where a negligent driver causes their vehicle to strike a pedestrian on the sidewalk, at an intersection crosswalk, or in a parking lot or parking garage, where the pedestrian has the right-of-way
- Rear-end accidents, where the front of one vehicle hits the back of another car, often because of excessive speeding or inattentiveness to the road
- Head-on accidents, where the front of one vehicle hits the front of another vehicle while traveling in opposing lanes – usually because the at-fault driver is distracted or intoxicated
- Overturn accidents, where a negligent driver speeds around a sharp curve or drives too fast for the prevailing weather or traffic conditions, causing their vehicle to overturn and bringing about a multi-vehicle pile-up
- Sideswipe accidents, where the sides of two vehicles that are traveling in the same direction strike one another, usually on a multi-lane highway
- T-bone, or broadside accidents, where the front of one vehicle hits the side of another car, resembling the shape of the letter T
If you suffered injuries during one of these accidents resulting from another driver’s recklessness, a skilled car and truck accident attorney can immediately assist you.
Your lawyer can then help you file a timely claim with the responsible driver's insurance company and begin pursuing the monetary damages you deserve for your accident-related losses.
Proving Your Car Accident Claim or Lawsuit
The victims of traffic crashes have the legal burden of proof in any personal injury claim or lawsuit they file. This means that they must establish various legal elements to recover monetary compensation and damages for their accident-related injuries.
First, an injured accident victim must establish that the other driver owed them a legal duty of care. This element of proof is usually a given since drivers have a duty to drive carefully and safely at all times. Drivers also have a duty to follow all traffic laws and regulations while on the road – as well as in parking lots and garages.
Next, the accident victim must show that the other driver deviated from their legal duty of care in some way. For example, the driver might have violated one or more traffic laws, or they may have engaged in distracted or intoxicated driving.
Next, the accident victim must show that as a direct result of the other driver's negligent or reckless act, the subject car crash occurred. Finally, accident victims must demonstrate, through medical testimony, that they suffered at least one physical injury as a direct result of their accident.
To prove the causal relationship between the subject accident and your injuries, you must have a qualified medical provider on board in your case. That provider must generate a medical report – or testify at a deposition or trial – that your injury directly resulted from the subject accident. In addition, a medical provider can establish, based upon a reasonable degree of medical probability, that one or more of your injuries are permanent.
Although most injuries fully recover at some point, a permanent injury is unlikely to get better, even after a significant amount of time passes.
A skilled car accident attorney in your area can help you satisfy the legal burden of proof in your personal injury claim or lawsuit. Your attorney can then work to maximize the monetary compensation you recover through settlement or litigation.
Debilitating Injuries in Car Accidents
The potential injuries that an accident victim might suffer are too numerous to name. However, some car accident injuries are more common than others. The injuries that an accident victim suffers will typically depend on the type of accident, their bodily movements in the vehicle at the time of the crash, the force of the collision, and the number of crashes that occur.
Common injuries typically include:
- Internal bleeding or internal organ damage
- Open cuts and lacerations
- Soft tissue injuries, like whiplash
- Traumatic head and brain injuries, like concussions
- Spinal cord injuries, including full or partial paralysis
Often, when an accident victim seeks post-accident treatment at an urgent care facility or hospital emergency room, the medical provider will give them a treatment plan to follow.
One of the best ways to achieve a favorable monetary result in your personal injury claim is to follow through with your entire medical treatment regimen. That may include consulting with a medical expert, visiting your primary care doctor, or undergoing physical therapy for a period of weeks after your accident.
Moreover, if the insurance company sees that you have followed through with your medical treatment, they are much more likely to offer you the types and amounts of monetary compensation you need. In short, they are more likely to assume that your injuries are severe if you continuously seek treatment and follow through on all medical treatment recommendations.
While you attend your medical appointments and focus on getting better, a car accident lawyer in your area can help you gather the necessary documents to prove your personal injury claim. Specifically, your attorney can collect your medical treatment records and bills to date, along with police reports and other investigatory documents, and begin assembling a settlement demand package for your case.
Once your treatment is complete, your lawyer can submit this demand package to the insurance company adjuster for their review and begin settlement negotiations in your case.
Recoverable Vehicle Accident Damages
The total monetary damages an accident victim may recover depend on various factors, including the severity of their injuries, the extent of their medical treatment, the cost of their medical care, and other accident-related factors. Since every accident and injury case differs, not all accident victims will be eligible to pursue and recover the same amounts and types of monetary damages.
First, accident victims can receive a monetary recovery for their economic losses, including the cost of their medical expenses and lost income, if they have to miss time from work after their car crash.
Additionally, accident victims can recover non-economic damages for their intangible losses, including monetary compensation for all of their:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Extended care costs, such as for residing at a nursing home or assisted living facility
A skilled car accident lawyer in your area can explore your eligibility for these damages and help you file the appropriate claim or lawsuit in a timely manner. Your attorney will represent you at every stage of your case and aggressively advocate for your legal interests at all times.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
If you recently sustained injuries in a vehicle accident, you should take action as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may significantly jeopardize your ability to recover the monetary compensation you deserve for your accident-related losses. Victims who have sought representation from a personal injury law firm in Chicago nearly always receive more compensation than those who have not.
As soon as an attorney enters an appearance on your behalf, they may begin advocating for you. Specifically, your lawyer can help you file a timely claim or lawsuit that seeks favorable monetary recovery in your case.
If your injury case must proceed to litigation, your lawyer can represent you in all legal proceedings, advocate for your interests, and introduce favorable evidence for you.
Your attorney can also represent you at all legal proceedings, including at your civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, and help you achieve the best possible result in your case.