Though many of us drive or ride in cars every day, we often disregard just how dangerous these vehicles can be. The safety features may be better than they used to be, but despite our best efforts, car accidents still happen every day. Some of these accidents are minor, and thankfully do not cause a lot of damage or injuries. Others, however, cause severe pain and even death to those involved. The latter is more common than you may think, with 33,244 fatal car accidents in the U.S. in 2019 alone.
This information is often shocking, and almost always disheartening. After all, many people don’t have viable alternatives to driving and must face this danger every day. Though we can try to drive carefully and do our best to avoid accidents, they can still happen. Fortunately, we can take solace in knowing that we can take legal action if we are injured during a car accident.
Personal injury laws encompass car accidents. This means that you can seek compensation if you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault. With a personal injury attorney by your side, you can help to hold the guilty party responsible. These cases simply ask that the person responsible pay for the medical bills and damages associated with their actions, rather than making the victim pay when they haven’t done anything wrong.
Many times, a personal injury settlement following a car crash can be the difference between fully recovering and facing medical bills for years to come. With the right attorney at your side, you can focus on rest and recuperation, and remain confident in your family’s finances.
When you have been in an accident, you are in a vulnerable place. Collisions are traumatic and can have severe consequences for your physical and mental health. While you build your case, you will simultaneously have to heal your mind and body from what has happened. Because of this, you need an attorney who is sympathetic to your situation and knows how to navigate the vulnerability and pain that follows a car accident.
Here at Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we specialize in car accident cases because we are deeply passionate about the safety and wellbeing of our clients. We know how traumatic a car accident can be, and we make it our mission to be here for you in the aftermath. For years, we have been defending our clients against predatory insurance companies and making sure that they receive the compensation that they deserve following an accident.
Though you likely understand what it means to get into a car accident, the legal portion of a car accident is foreign to many people. Car accident cases are created when a collision happens that is the fault of one driver alone. The other driver may sustain injuries and damage to their vehicle as a result of the collision. To be held financially responsible for the accident when you had nothing to do with the cause of the accident is unjust. These cases help to ensure that the right person is held financially responsible.
For a car accident to be a personal injury case, there needs to have been injuries, and one party needs to have been acting either maliciously or negligently.
Examples of negligence while driving include:
Each of these things is against the law. When we get our licenses, we agree to follow certain laws to be allowed to drive on the roads. When we break this agreement, we are neglecting our duty as drivers. When a driver does this and causes an accident, the accident is caused by negligence.
Malice is a bit different when it comes to driving. These cases are more rare but still can cause significant damage.
Examples of malicious actions while driving include:
When you get into a car accident, many people wonder why an attorney is necessary. They believe that, since car accidents are so common, they can handle the legal ramifications on their own. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Though car accidents are common, the legal process is still very serious. There are many ways that the case can go wrong, and you can lose your settlement.
When you seek a settlement, you will be fighting against the perpetrator and their insurance company. Both are extremely likely to have an attorney. Though the case may seem obvious to you, their attorney can easily infuse reasonable doubt into the situation and cause you to lose your financial support.
One of the most important factors, however, is your health. When you are healing from the traumatic and serious injuries that are often incurred in these accidents, you need to rest and recover. Building a case for yourself requires significant time and effort, both of which only stand to aggravate your injury. Stress often reverses the healing process, making it more difficult to recover. If you lose your case, which is highly likely, you will have the added stress of financial responsibility for your injury.
Perhaps the most essential service that your Charlotte car accident attorney can provide is protection from insurance companies. This may seem counterintuitive, as most of us have been led to believe that insurance is available to help us. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Insurance companies are businesses first, so they will do anything to avoid paying for expensive medical bills and damages. They have many predatory tactics that they use to get out of paying.
Many times, they will call victims very soon after the accident to confirm the injuries. It’s important to note that sometimes the full extent of an injury does not appear until later. What’s more, the pain may grow worse over time. If they get you to admit that you are doing alright, they will argue that any further claims you try to make were the result of a different event, and they shouldn’t be responsible. Sometimes, they harass you and make you believe that you need to give an immediate statement, when, in reality, you do not.
Perhaps the most startling tactic that they use is private investigators. In some cases, they hire a PI to follow victims and ensure that their activities are in line with their injuries. For example, if you have a back injury and they see you take the garbage out, they will use this as “proof” that you do not have a back injury, even if that is not true.
When you have an attorney on your side, we interact with the insurance companies on your behalf. We know how to communicate with them in ways that won’t jeopardize your case. We can protect you from harassment and take all of the communication with insurance companies off of your to-do list.
Again, these are all illegal maneuvers that can result in injury. If an individual insists on engaging in one of these, they need to be held responsible for the consequences.
One of the most essential parts of a car accident claim is proving that one driver, rather than both, is at fault for what happened. Sometimes, the other driver will implicate themselves by apologizing or explaining what went wrong. If you are able to document this, fault can be more easily established. However, many people have been warned not to apologize following a car accident precisely so they can’t be blamed. In most cases, your attorney will have to establish fault in a different way.
One of the biggest tools at your attorney’s disposal is evidence. In the case of a car accident, this usually means photos of the damage, medical reports, and photos of injuries, police reports, traffic signs, and surveillance footage. An attorney will assemble all of these in an attempt to create a clear picture of what occurred. The hope is that when the court sees what happened, it will be clear who was at fault.
Another key aspect of proving fault is asking for eyewitness statements. Your attorney will conduct interviews with eyewitnesses and may even ask them to testify in court if it’s necessary. These statements help to complete the picture by presenting an unbiased perspective of what happened. While statements from the drivers and passengers are likely to be skewed in favor of their own position, witnesses provide factual and unbiased information.
There are ways you can help with the evidence process. Depending on your situation following the accident, you may be able to assemble essential information that can help your attorney to build your case. If you are able to move safely after your accident, follow these steps:
These steps help to both preserve your case and build evidence for your attorney. This evidence will be used later to determine fault.
Please note that if you are severely injured, or have signs of serious injuries, do not move until medical help has arrived. Your safety is the top priority.
Negligence and fault are slightly different matters. Though someone’s negligence can put them at fault, fault does not always imply negligence. It is best if your attorney can prove both.
Proving negligence is similar to proving fault, but perhaps a bit more specific. Your attorney may use the following to establish negligence:
Negligence can be a bit more difficult to prove but can still be done. Proving negligence strengthens your case and increases the likelihood that you will receive a settlement.
Every state has different parameters when it comes to negligence. Here in North Carolina, a contributory negligence law is in effect. This means that you cannot have been at all negligent if you want to receive a settlement after an accident.
For example, let’s say that you had a beer at happy hour with some coworkers. Afterward, you drive home. Though you are not over the legal limit to drive, there is still alcohol in your system. You are stopped at a stop sign and a car rear-ends you, causing whiplash. The other driver argues in court that your BAC was not zero, and the court agrees. This means that, even though the other person caused the accident, you were not free of negligence because you drove after having alcohol. You will not receive a settlement in this case.
Another example would be this: you are stopped at a stoplight waiting for it to turn green. When it does, you proceed into the intersection. A car coming from your right fails to stop at the red light and hits you, causing you to break your arm and some ribs. The other driver argues that you did not check both ways before you began to drive, and therefore are not innocent in the situation. If the court agrees that you should have looked both ways before proceeding through the intersection, you are not free of negligence and will not receive a settlement.
There are many ways that victims can be injured in a car accident. Most of it depends on the specific circumstances, as well as the individual’s stature and genetic makeup. However, due to the nature of car accidents, there are some injuries that are more common than others. These include:
Each of these conditions can be serious and deserve prompt and thorough medical attention. Be aware that symptoms don’t always appear immediately. Pay close attention to your body in the days and weeks following your accident.
There will likely also be damage to your car. Of course, the damage depends on the details. In some cases, an accident can cause serious damage to the driver or passengers and minimal damage to the cars. In other cases, both the car and the passengers are severely hurt.
A mechanic should look at your car following the accident. They may be able to fix your car, or it may be totaled. In the case of the latter, your insurance company should pay you the price of your car. If they won’t, or if they try to avoid payments, your attorney can help you to fight for what you deserve.
Different attorneys will approach your case in different ways. It is important to find one that you feel confident about. Your attorney should be well-versed in car accident cases and should have a strong history of winning them for their clients. Past cases are a very good indication of whether an attorney is the right fit. It is not sufficient for your attorney to simply have experience in personal injury law. Instead, they must have a history of winning car accident cases specifically. In the world of personal injury law, success does not necessarily translate from one topic to another.
As part of their job, you can expect that your attorney will assemble all necessary evidence for your case. Though they may ask you for your own statement or for evidence you collected at the scene, they are in charge of assembling any evidence that you don’t have. You should not have to worry about obtaining video footage, eyewitness statements, police reports, or any of those things. Your job is to rest, while your attorney builds your case.
On a more emotional or personal note, there are certain traits that you can expect your Charlotte car accident attorney to have. Remember, you will need to be vulnerable with your attorney to give a complete picture of what happened. It is important that you feel safe to do so. You should expect that your attorney is:
You can also look for an attorney who shares any values that are important to you. Some people also look for an attorney of their same gender, as it makes them feel safe. No matter what, you should expect to feel comfortable around your lawyer.
Finally, you should expect clear communication from your attorney. Sometimes, there are roadblocks or pauses in cases while the court determines scheduling or processes paperwork. Your attorney should still be communicating with you during this time. You should never feel in the dark about your case. You should also know how to expect communication. Some attorneys prefer to call or meet in person, while others may send updates via email. Feel free to ask your attorney during your consultation how they plan to communicate.
Sometimes, car accident cases go to court. Litigation is the most commonly understood method of settling cases, as it is the topic of many books and tv shows. However, in reality, there is another way to settle your case. Settlement is a wonderful resource for cases that are fairly straightforward. If your opponent sees that they will surely lose their argument, they may decide to strike a deal outside of court. Your lawyer and the opposing lawyer will work to come to a settlement compromise.
In some cases, settlements are slightly less than you originally asked for. This is part of the compromise. If this is the case, be reassured by the fact that litigation is expensive. Any money you sacrifice for a settlement is more than worth avoiding court. However, sometimes the settlement amount is equal to what you would get via litigation.
It’s important to understand that, although settlement is a great resource, it is also not ideal in every case. If your attorney believes you can win a larger sum via litigation, then they may refuse to settle outside of court. Do not avoid litigation simply because it costs money. In some situations, it is well worth the additional time and effort.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of negligent or malicious driving, it is important that you have someone to turn to. Our team wins car accident cases all the time, and we are ready and eager to help you win yours. We strongly believe that you should not have to suffer financially after already suffering physically at the hands of another person. We fight diligently to make sure you get what is owed to you, and you have the support that you need to heal properly.
Though we are experts at car accident cases, we practice personal injury law of all kinds. Whether you have been hurt in a car, at work, at the hands of a medical professional, by a dog, or in any other scenario, we are here to provide professional, honest legal advice.
If you need legal representation or are ready to meet with us for a consultation, please contact us on our website.
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