Car accidents are jarring, harrowing experiences. Recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally from any car accident takes a long time, and some wounds may never heal. Among the most traumatic and devastating car accidents are those referred to as T-bone accidents.
A T-bone accident occurs when the front of one vehicle strikes, head-on, the side of another vehicle, thus making a T pattern between the vehicles. While passengers in the car hit on its side typically experience the worst injuries in these accidents, fault is not as clear. Understanding how T-bone accidents can come about helps to explain why.
T-bone accidents are also known as side-impact or broadside collisions because the front end of one vehicle hits the side of another. These accidents frequently occur in parking lots and intersections when a driver fails to obey a traffic signal, such as a red light. They also happen when a driver fails to yield to another’s right of way.
T-bone accidents are far more likely to cause serious bodily injury, and the driver of the side-struck car is most at-risk. The side of a car offers far less protection than the front of a car. When a car is struck on its side, all that protects the driver is a three-inch piece of metal and perhaps a side airbag. The front of the car contains the engine, the radiator, and all other machinery necessary to operate the vehicle. The driver simply is farther from the impact when someone hits the car at its front instead of the side.
Thus, the driver in the side-impacted car is at risk of such severe injuries as broken bones, contusions, lacerations, or traumatic brain injuries. In fact, T-bone accidents are far likelier than other accident types to result in severe injuries and death. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in one year, side-impact crashes accounted for 30 percent of deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes.
T-bone Accidents and Fault
Most T-bone accidents occur at intersections because of a distracted or impaired driver, or a driver who fails to obey a traffic signal. Obviously, the driver committing the infraction will be at fault for the accident. However, the at-fault driver might not be the driver who crashed into the side of another car, but instead the other driver. Furthermore, parties besides the drivers may also be liable. For example, if a driver failed to yield at an intersection because of a defective traffic signal, the government agency responsible for the signal’s maintenance could also be liable.
Of course, attributing fault is critical to determining who can be held accountable for compensating whom. An at-fault driver can be held responsible for the damages suffered by the other parties, even if the at-fault driver suffered damages, too. Whoever caused the accident usually doesn’t pay these expenses out of pocket; rather, their insurance company foots the bill.
Can I File a Lawsuit After a T-bone Accident?
In an at-fault state, you can sue those party’s at-fault for a T-bone accident that caused you injury.
Additionally, you may file a lawsuit against entities besides the at-fault driver. Those other than the other driver who could be liable for a T-bone accident include government agencies, the vehicle manufacturer, the vehicle dealership, and even pedestrians.
Plaintiffs bring most car accident lawsuits under a theory of negligence. To bring a successful negligence claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care, violated that duty, that violation caused an injury, and that injury is more than nominal. If the plaintiff can prove each of these elements, they can demand compensation from the party in question.
What Are Damages?
If a T-bone accident victim ends up going to trial and wins in court, the court will grant a financial award known as “damages.
Damages principally serve the purpose of compensating the plaintiff for the expenses and impacts they incurred in the accident because of the defendant’s wrongdoing. They intend to make the plaintiff whole again.
We can divide these compensatory damages into two subcategories: monetary and non-monetary damages. Monetary damages address concrete financial injuries such as medical debt and lost wages. We can easily assign these injuries a monetary value and prove them with formal documents like receipts and paystubs.
Non-monetary damages are more challenging to prove. They cover more abstract claims that are difficult to convert into a monetary sum, such as mental trauma or loss of consortium. Generally, to be granted these damages, the plaintiff must provide testimony from an expert witness like a psychiatrist or medical doctor.
Life-changing injuries may result from a serious T-bone accident. You may sustain broken bones and lacerations that require surgery to mend. If you suffered a concussion or traumatic brain injury, your memory and cognitive function may have suffered.
Financial injuries often follow physical ones. If health insurance doesn’t cover your treatment, you could face a mountain of medical debt. You may never pay off this debt if your injuries make it impossible to work. Knowing negligence or wrongdoing caused your injuries can make the recovery all the more difficult. Compensatory damages address these harms and pay for those damages.
A third damages category that goes beyond what’s necessary to compensate the plaintiff is known as punitive damages. Punitive damages, as the name suggests, punish the defendant for their especially egregious behavior. With punitive damages, the court sends a message, to both the defendant and society at large, that it will not tolerate such behavior.
Generally, to warrant punitive damages, the defendant must have engaged in grossly negligent or wanton and reckless behavior. Punitive damages can often amount to a significant sum, but are rare.
Under any state’s law, T-bone accident victims should seek compensation for their injuries, whether through insurance or in court through an award of damages. The best step to take to start your path to just compensation is contacting an experienced car accident lawyer.
A good car accident lawyer will be more than just a professional in a suit—they will offer candid advice and an empathetic voice in a time of great need. Attorneys can get your claim off the ground, conduct the investigation necessary to prove your case, and take all other steps necessary to recover the compensation you deserve after a T-bone accident.
Managing after a motor vehicle accident in Virginia can be incredibly stressful. Not only is it challenging to deal with devastating injuries and debilitating pain on a physical and emotional level, but treating these injuries also often carries a heavy financial impact, leading to high medical bills from emergency and long-term treatment. Victims of such horrific accidents deserve justice and compensation to help with the financial impacts.
Getting compensation, however, requires filing a claim, and doing so on time. Unfortunately, many car accident victims do not realize that they have a limited amount of time to file their claims, and must take many necessary preliminary steps before they may file. When individuals wait too long to bring a claim, they can lose their opportunity to get the money they deserve.
This post discusses the time limitations for filing a claim for a Virginia car accident, the potential consequences of waiting too long to file, and how victims can make sure they file within the allotted time and preserve their claims.
The Statute of Limitations – What is it?
The statute of limitations is a law that dictates the amount of time you have to file a claim following a given offense. This law varies by offense and from state to state. If you do not file your claim by the deadline, you cannot pursue legal action and collect compensation for your injuries.
Legislatures pass statutes of limitations because the more time passes, the more challenging it becomes to fairly administer justice. Witnesses may disappear or memories of the incident may fade, and vital evidence can disappear. Given these, it could become unduly difficult for a victim to prove their case or the wrongful party to defend themselves.
The law also protects defendants’ due process rights, and that they can achieve what the law refers to as “repose,” or relief from the threat of a lawsuit. Without a statute of limitations, an offense could occur and a plaintiff could sue a defendant for an indeterminate period in the future.
Virginia’s Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Injury Claims
In Virginia, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident injury claim is generally two years from the accident date. This same period applies to most cases, such as premises liability, product liability, and dog bite cases. However, some exceptions to this rule can change the applicable deadline to file a case. For instance, when victims can’t file a lawsuit because they are a minor or mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations can toll or pause if the victim cannot file a suit.
While two years may seem like a long time, it goes by quickly in the wake of a motor vehicle accident. To protect your legal rights and pursue the financial recovery you deserve, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon after an accident as possible. These attorneys can determine precisely how much time you have to file your case and get you on the quickest way to recovering compensation.
What Happens if You File a Virginia Car Accident Injury Claim After the Statute of Limitations Expires?
Unfortunately, if you miss the filing deadline but decide to file your injury suit anyway, you’ll likely be out of luck. Generally, the defendant will notice the error, especially if they have an attorney, and will file a motion to dismiss the case. Unless you meet some exception to the statute of limitations rule, the court will most likely grant this dismissal.
The court in which you file may dismiss your case if you miss the deadline and the court thus lacks jurisdiction. Consequently, failing to file a car accident injury claim within the statute of limitations likely forfeits your right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses.
Does a Virginia Car Accident Case Need to Resolve Before the Statute of Limitations Expires?
To be clear, while you need to file a vehicle accident case within the statute of limitations, settlement or court order does not need to resolve a case by that deadline.
In fact, injury cases frequently take much longer than two years to resolve because defendants and their insurers need time to agree to a fair settlement amount—or, if they fail to do so, go to trial and get a court to determine damages.
Suing Governmental Entities in Virginia – Impact on the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Case
Typically, Virginia has more stringent mandatory deadlines and requirements when it comes to filing any claim against a governmental entity.
For instance, if you have a car accident injury claim against the Commonwealth or transportation district, you must file a written notice of claim with the appropriate authority within one year of the date of the injury. This law requires that this notice contains specific information relating to the nature of the claim. Due to these complexities, if you believe you have an injury claim against a governmental agency, work with a skilled car accident lawyer to comply with the state’s statute of limitations.
Ensure Your Injury Virginia Car Accident Case is Filed Right and on Time
Motor vehicle accident claims can be complicated, tedious, and demanding. Trying to figure out what, where and by when you need to file in your case can overwhelm you, especially on top of the other stressors the accident caused. Working with an experienced and knowledgeable car accident attorney can relieve significant stress and help preserve your claim. An attorney can tackle the challenging legal issues for you and ensure you get the assistance you need.
They do this by:
- Going over your case in detail and determining the legal options you can pursue and your time for doing so.
- Answering any questions or concerns you may have.
- Investigating the vehicle accident and securing the vital evidence needed to initiate your claim.
- Filing legal documents and motions before your time expires.
- Fighting for the maximum financial recovery you deserve.
If a motor vehicle accident disrupted your life or the life of a family member, do not wait to get the legal help you need.
When someone acts negligently or recklessly that leads to another person’s death, the law creates grounds for the survivors of the decedent to bring what is called a “wrongful death” lawsuit. In some cases, the responsible party could face criminal charges in addition to a civil lawsuit. Even if a jury acquits the defendant, though, you can sue for wrongful death in civil court.
The things you need to prove for a criminal charge often differ from what you need to prove to establish wrongful death, and the standard of proof for wrongful death in civil court is lower than that for charges in criminal court. Thus, where the state may have lacked the evidence to prove the defendant committed a certain crime, survivors of a wrongful death victim may have enough to prove their case and recover damages.
Circumstances of Wrongful Death
There are many different life scenarios where a person’s wrongdoing can lead to another’s death, and thus there are many different circumstances that may create grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death cases often proceed from:
- Medical malpractice
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Intentional torts
- Criminal activity
- Manufacturing defects
- Service errors, such as installing brakes on a vehicle incorrectly
Intentional acts that create grounds for a wrongful death claim are also often criminal, such as kidnapping or trespassing with the intent to harm a person. The state handles criminal charges, leaving it to the decedent’s family to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. Criminal activity resulting in a basis for a wrongful death claim could include breaking and entering, driving while under the influence, or excessive speeding.
Each state has a wrongful death statute to hold those whose negligent, reckless, or intentional acts result in death accountable to a decedent’s surviving family. Thus, a wrongful death statute will generally allow survivors to bring suit against anyone whose misbehavior led to their loved one’s death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate brings the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate. The representative has a limited amount of time after the wrongful death incident, under what’s called a statute of limitations, to bring the wrongful death lawsuit. While the statute of limitations may seem like a long time, it is always best to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon after the incident as possible to secure your right to compensation.
Because only the personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit, someone must start the probate process so that the court can approve the personal representative if the decedent designated someone in a will or estate plan. If not, the court will appoint a personal representative. This can take time and can eat up some of the wrongful death lawsuit statute of limitations period.
Recoverable Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The personal representative can recover compensation, referred to as economic damages and non-economic damages, on behalf of the decedent’s estate. Once a judge or jury makes a compensation award and the court signs the final judgment, the money is paid to the estate to be distributed to those family members who are eligible to recover compensation for their loss. The court orders compensatory damages—economic and non-economic damages –to make the plaintiffs whole again.
While the money does not bring back a loved one, it can help the family with the financial blows and other impacts they may experience in wrongful death cases, especially if they lose a primary wage earner.
Economic damages may include:
- Medical expenses incurred from the time of the accident to the time of death, or those incurred during medical malpractice
- Lost wages, including future lost wages for the family
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses
Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of companionship and support the decedent provided
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of household services that the decedent provided
In instances where the court finds that the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional, the personal representative may recover punitive damages on behalf of the decedent’s estate.
The court orders punitive damages as a punishment for the defendant’s grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions—not to compensate a plaintiff for any tangible expenses or impacts resulting from the wrongful death. For example, a doctor who makes a negligent mistake might not have to pay punitive damages, but a doctor who makes the same mistake because they were drunk or under the influence of illicit substances might be subject to pay punitive damages. Consult with a wrongful death attorney to determine whether you might be eligible for punitive damages in your specific case.
Proving a Wrongful Death Claim
To win in a wrongful death action, the plaintiff—the personal representative in a wrongful death claim—must show the court that the defendant was more likely than not responsible for the wrongful death. The burden of proof is the same as if the decedent was still alive.
Thus, if the personal representative is alleging negligence as a reason for the wrongful death, they would have to prove that:
- The defendant had a duty of care. In a car accident case, a defendant has a duty to drive safely and legally to avoid injuring others.
- The defendant breached the duty of care. In a car accident, the defendant might breach their duty of care by driving under the influence, driving while distracted, or by speeding.
- The breach caused the decedent’s death. In a drunk driving wrongful death case, if not for the defendant’s drunk driving, the decedent would not have died.
- The decedent’s death caused the damages. Because the decedent died, his or her family lost income, incurred expenses, and experienced other impacts.
Contact a wrongful death lawyer today to find out whether you have a good case and what damages you can pursue for the loss of your loved one.
Car accidents happen. They’re an inherent risk that we accept to reap the benefits of vehicle ownership—the freedom, the independence, and the exhilaration that we experience behind the wheel. However, this doesn’t mean that all accidents are unavoidable.
Thousands of accidents occur every year because of negligence or wrongdoing, leaving victims and their families in dire circumstances. All such accidents are difficult to grapple with, but perhaps the most infuriating are those caused by mechanical failure. After all, we spend thousands of dollars on a car we believe to be designed with care and precision.
Furthermore, when a car doesn’t perform as advertised, it chips away at an economic cornerstone—the relationship between manufacturer and consumer. It erodes the trust that makes commercial transactions possible.
Thankfully, negligent automakers can be held accountable. Under the law, you may seek compensation if you suffered an injury because of an automotive mechanical failure.
4 Types of Mechanical Failure
Although safety standards have grown increasingly stringent over the decades, cars still manage to roll off the assembly line with design and engineering flaws. These defects range from minor to severe, and while some may never lead to an accident, others will cause catastrophic levels of destruction.
Here are some common mechanical failures to look out for:
Tire blowouts cause thousands of accidents every year. A tire may fail for many reasons, but frequent causes include over/under inflation, debris in the road, and overuse.
Realizing you can’t stop while driving is one of the most harrowing experiences you can have behind the wheel. Astonishingly, many drivers have first-hand knowledge. Brake failure may occur if the vehicle’s anti-lock braking system malfunctions causing the brake to become unresponsive. Defective brakes cause some of the most severe accidents.
Yes. Even cars are computer-operated in the 21st century. The modern automobile utilizes complex software to keep everything running smoothly; serious accidents may occur if this software malfunctions. Unfortunately, like with other personal computers, car computers have vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit.
Defective Steering System
A car becomes a death trap when it’s impossible to steer. The steering wheel is the source of many steering defects. The wheel of a car contains many interdependent parts that may render the whole steering apparatus useless if just one becomes inoperable.
Mechanical Failure Claims and Legal Theories
Generally speaking, mechanical failure legal claims come in three forms:
- Defective design claims: Cars are designed according to the detailed specifications of experienced automotive engineers. However, thousands of car accidents occur every year because of design flaws. Here, plaintiffs argue that the maker should have used safer alternative designs.
- Defective manufacturing claims: Errors frequently occur during the manufacturing process and, more specifically, during assembly. These errors may occur because of issues in the assembly plant or faulty testing procedures.
- Defective repair claims: Even the most solidly built car will undergo routine repairs at some point. Unfortunately, some auto repair shops take shortcuts that lead to mechanical failure. Thankfully, these less scrupulous shops can be held accountable in a court of law.
Most mechanical failure claims are brought under a theory of negligence. To bring a negligence claim, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed them a duty of care, the defendant violated that duty, that duty resulted in an injury, and that injury was more than nominal.
For example, perhaps a plaintiff alleges that the mechanical failure resulted from a design flaw. Under a theory of negligence, they must demonstrate that: a) they were owed a duty of care by the designer; b) the designer violated that duty when they designed a car that was hazardous to consumers; the design flaw caused the plaintiff’s injuries; and c) the plaintiff’s injuries were the more than nominal.
It’s important to emphasize that the defendant’s negligence must have caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Even if the defendant’s behavior was outrageously negligent, if it didn’t cause an injury, there is no claim.
However, not all mechanical failure claims are brought under a theory of negligence, rather, some are brought under a theory of strict liability. The plaintiff need not satisfy a set of elements to bring a strict liability claim; they don’t even have to prove causation. They simply need to prove that the accident happened for their action to be successful.
A Closer Look at Damages
When a mechanical failure lawsuit is successful, the court will demand the defendant pay the plaintiff financial compensation for their injuries. This compensation is known as damages.
Damages strictly address the plaintiff’s injuries to return them to the condition they enjoyed before the accident. In common legal parlance, they make the victim whole again.
Damages are monetary and non-monetary.
Monetary damages address economic injuries that are easy to convert into a monetary value. Lost wages and medical debt are both included in this category.
Non-monetary damages, on the other hand, address more abstract claims that aren’t so easy to convert into dollars and cents. In this category, you have claims for pain and suffering, mental trauma, and loss of consortium. To be granted non-monetary damages, plaintiffs usually have to provide testimony from an expert witness, such as a doctor or a psychiatrist.
Coming to terms with a severe car accident is never easy. However, the process is especially complex when a mechanical failure is the root of the accident. Victims are often left wondering, “Maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation if a company had simply acted responsibly.”
Thankfully, victims don’t have to suffer in silence. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, they can file a lawsuit against those responsible. A successful suit may result in a significant financial award.
Virginia residents shouldn’t hesitate to take action. Mechanical failure lawsuits often require extensive discovery and could take months, or even years, to resolve. Furthermore, Virginia imposes a two-year statute of limitations on all car accident lawsuits. Failure to act promptly could mean permanently forfeiting the right to legal recourse.
If cost is a concern, many law firms offer a free initial consultation at no out-of-pocket cost to the client.
Motor vehicles are a vital part of our daily lives. However, when people are negligent behind the wheel, innocent people can suffer devastating injuries, debilitating pain and have their lives completely turned upside down. Although nobody expects to be involved in a car accident, they do happen, and concussions, brain damage, and other significant head injuries can result.
Yet, if you were in one of these terrifying motor vehicle collisions and consequently suffered head trauma, you should not have to endure the endless repercussions on your own. You deserve legal help that you can trust, legal help that can get you through this challenging ordeal and get you the justice and damages you need.
That is why to provide you with a better understanding of these concussion car accident cases, we have prepared this article. In it, we will take a deeper dive into the factors that go into the legal actions surrounding car accident injuries and how an experienced car accident lawyer can make the most of your legal rights.
Types of Head Injuries Resulting From a Motor Vehicle Accident
Head injuries can range from a concussion to even more substantial traumatic brain injury (TBI). Any type of head injury can result in numerous issues, including memory loss, cognitive impairments, and even behavioral and emotional changes.
Although these head injuries can range in severity, some of the more common symptoms that victims experience include:
- A loss of consciousness that can last several minutes to hours
- Pressure within the head
- Extreme headaches that continue to last
- Repeated vomiting
- Seizures or convulsions
- Slurred speech
- Feeling light-headed
- Ringing in the ears
- Personality changes
- Dilated pupils
- Clear fluids draining from the ears or the nose
- Inability to awaken
- A difficulty concentrating
A concussion occurs after a victim suffers an impact to the head or after a whiplash-related injury that causes the head and brain to shake quickly back and forth. Generally, these injuries result in an altered mental state that may include the victim becoming unconscious.
Types of Damages Available Following a Concussion Injury Car Accident
If you have been harmed in a motor vehicle accident and suffered a concussion, you may be entitled to certain types of compensation.
Generally, this compensation includes:
Economic damages: These are quantifiable and measurable losses resulting from the accident that include:
- Medical expenses such as your past, present, and future medical bills, including doctor visits, emergency room visits, prescription medication, and surgeries
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Personal property damages
- Replacement services
- At-home nursing care
- Rehabilitative therapy such as physical and occupational therapy
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
Non-economic damages: These damages include somewhat subjective losses that are not easy to quantify.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of compassion
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
Punitive Damages: Unlike compensatory damages, which the court awards to compensate the victim for losses, punitive damages punish the defendants for their wrongful actions and deter them and others from engaging in similar activities. The courts do not often grant punitive damages, and plaintiffs must meet strict legal standards for consideration. In Virginia, these standards require the victim to show that the defendant acted beyond simple negligence or gross negligence, and the actions reached a level of willful and wanton neglect.
Specific Factors That Can Influence a Concussion Injury Settlement Value
Unfortunately, no attorney can tell you exactly how much money you can receive following a car accident. This is because there are usually various factors that can influence the value of a concussion injury settlement.
These factors tend to include:
- The severity of the injury: If the victim suffered a hard injury such as head trauma or a concussion, the amount of money they can obtain may be more significant than if the injuries were minor.
- Defendant’s liability: If the defendant’s fault for the car accident is apparent, the settlement value can often be higher. On the other hand, if the fault is disputed, the defendant is less likely to come to the victim with a fair settlement offer.
- The victim’s characteristics: The victim’s occupation, age, and prior medical history can also affect the overall settlement value.
- Multiple wrongdoers: If numerous parties are potentially liable for the underlying motor vehicle accident, and each defendant is represented by a different insurance company, there can be numerous issues that develop regarding how much each defendant should pay.
- Defendant’s conduct: If the defendant’s conduct was especially egregious, for instance, they were driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then punitive damages may also be used as leverage during the settlement negotiation process.
- Medical treatments: The settlement value can also be swayed by the type of medical treatments the victim will require now and in the future and whether they also need special medical equipment and ongoing medical care.
- Life disruptions: If the victim missed school, work, vacations, special events, or other activities, these disruptions could impact the amount of money the victim can obtain for their vehicle accident injuries.
Many factors can impact the overall settlement recovery. It is critical to work with an experienced car accident attorney that can walk you through this complex legal process. Although lawyers cannot guarantee that you will recover money for the injuries and losses you sustained, they can fight hard to secure you every last dollar your injury has cost you.
That is why, if you have suffered a concussion or another head injury due to a motor vehicle accident, do not wait any longer to seek the legal help you need. Contact an experienced car accident attorney today, and let these lawyers go after the settlement amount you deserve.
Most people don’t think about who they would hire as a personal injury attorney until tragedy strikes. It’s good to have a lawyer in your list of contacts beforehand, if possible. In either case, there are some things to look for in hiring an attorney to ensure you are well-represented and give yourself the best chance of recovering fair compensation.
Expect the Unexpected
Since you can’t see into the future, you have no idea if you’ll get into a car accident, suffer injuries from medical malpractice, slip and fall, or have another personal injury matter. While you hope nothing ever happens, and you’ll never need a personal injury attorney, it’s a good idea to do at least a little research while you are well and able. It can significantly reduce stress in the event something happens.
You have many choices, but not every personal injury attorney handles every type of case, and you might not get along with every attorney you come across. Knowing such things before an accident can streamline your case and help you recover compensation faster.
Starting Your Research
You might make a short list of attorneys to contact in the event of an accident. Because you can’t predict the kind of accident you might end up in, look for attorneys who have experience in several practice areas, including vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, gun injuries, traumatic brain injuries, boating injuries, etc.
You might also have an attorney listed who specializes in one or just a few particular kinds of personal injury cases. For example, if the attorney at the top of your list doesn’t handle dog bites or intentional torts, make sure you locate another attorney with those skills to add to your short list.
If you have prepared a list of attorneys but suffer injuries that leave you unable to contact an attorney yourself, your loved one will have your list of already-vetted attorneys. All your loved one needs to do is schedule a free case evaluation with those on your list to determine which one is best to handle your specific case. You won’t have to add stress to an already stressful situation by having to research attorneys and delaying your case.
Things to look for in creating a long list
You might want to start by collecting a longer list of potential attorneys. Go through the personal injury attorneys in your area by locating their websites. Add to your list those with professional-looking websites with plenty of information about the firm, its practice areas, and its results. For example, a car accident attorney should have informational content about car accidents on their web pages and in blog posts.
Narrowing It Down
Once you have a long list, compare case results to narrow down your choice. Case results explain outcomes an attorney has had in past cases. Most attorneys will tell you about the cases they have won, whether the case settled or went to litigation, and give a short synopsis of the facts of the case.
If an attorney has just a few case results or none at all, you might cross them out. If you’re impressed by an attorney’s presentation of his or her skills, though they don’t have a lot of results posted, put them in the “maybe” column. You can always ask about results when you have an initial consultation.
Also look for testimonials on the attorney’s website. If the attorney has not posted testimonials, you might ask the attorney for references.
Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Attorney
Once you have a narrowed-down list of attorneys, your next step is to contact the attorneys on the list. You can choose to do this over the phone or schedule an in-person meeting. If you already suffered injuries, ask to schedule a free case evaluation. During the evaluation, you will be evaluating the attorney as much as they will be evaluating your case.
Some potential questions you might ask an attorney during a phone call or at a free case evaluation include:
What are your fees?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, but you should confirm. You do not want to have to worry about attorney’s fees while you are recovering from your injuries and cannot work. Under a contingency fee arrangement, you don’t pay unless the attorney succeeds in getting a settlement or court award on your behalf. If your attorney wins, they will take their fees out of your settlement or trial award.
Also clarify what percentage of the settlement or court award the attorney takes as their fee.
If we lose our case, do I have to pay any costs?
Ask the attorney if you have to reimburse them for any costs if the attorney loses. Costs may include filing fees, deposition fees, arbitration and mediation costs, fees for court reporters, or investigation fees, among others. Most attorneys will require you to pay some costs, even if they lose the case.
Also, verify when those costs are due. Most attorneys wait until the end of the case to ask you to reimburse costs, though some will ask you to reimburse costs as you incur them.
How many cases similar to mine have you settled, and how many have you litigated?
The attorney might have settled or litigated many personal injury cases, but you need to know about the attorney’s experience handling cases like yours. For example, if you suffered injuries in a vehicle accident with a commercial truck, an attorney who has primarily won in slip-and-fall cases, and has only won a handful of vehicle cases, might not have the experience best fit for your case.
How long do you anticipate it will take to resolve my case?
All cases are different, and there is no clear answer to this. However, the attorney can tell you how much time they give insurance companies to come to a fair settlement, and how long it generally takes to move through the court if a settlement with the defendant and their insurer doesn’t pan out. Keep in mind that it is generally hard to predict how long a case will take to resolve.
Hopefully, after asking a few lawyers those questions, you can decide which one is best for you.
Car accidents are, unfortunately, an everyday occurrence across the country. Families who lose loved ones and injured victims of car accidents must often face a drastically different future in light of their injuries.
If you were recently in a motor vehicle collision that was someone else’s fault, you may be wondering if you should hire a lawyer for assistance with your case. This blog post describes how an attorney can help you resolve your car accident claim.
When Should You Get an Attorney for Your Car Accident Claim?
After a car accident, injury victims may feel unsure about the next steps in the process. You are likely still recovering from your injuries as insurance company representatives and other parties are attempting to contact you regarding your injury, the accident, and your pending claim. There are several situations in which hiring a car accident attorney can benefit you in successfully navigating a car accident claim.
When You Are Injured
Car accident injuries are costly and can have many impacts on your life, from your physical health and your mental well-being to your finances. Even an injury that at first seems minor can end up turning your life upside down as you face a painful recovery, missed work, and medical treatments. Any moderate to severe injury after a car accident could be worth a significant amount of damages. A car accident attorney understands the damages you may be entitled to under the law and can provide you with a reasonable estimate of the money you can seek for your losses.
You may not yet have a clear picture of the extent of your injuries or the future impacts your injuries will have on your ability to work and enjoy your everyday life, or the future medical expenses that may arise due to your injuries. Still, the actions you take now can impact your ability to recover compensation for these damages in the future.
When the Insurance Company Offers a Low Settlement
Often, a car accident victim will make a good faith attempt to resolve a car accident claim on their own. However, insurance companies and other parties don’t always act in good faith in return. If you attempted to negotiate a settlement offer on your own but face unreasonable delays by the insurance company or low settlement offers that don’t account for your injuries and other damages, contact a car accident attorney.
Keep in mind that if you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company you will be asked to sign a release of liability. Once you have signed, you can’t seek additional compensation from the insurance company even if you discover your injuries or damages are more than you anticipated.
With an attorney advocating for your rights, you may be more likely to reach a successful resolution and receive reasonable compensation for the damages you have suffered. A car accident lawyer has the resources and experience to navigate the insurance injury claim process successfully and fight for your rights.
When Your Claim Is Denied
Insurance companies are in the business of making money and their representatives often do everything possible to offer unreasonably low settlements or outright deny a car accident claim. If the insurance company denied your claim, a car accident attorney can evaluate your claim and determine if you can appeal your claim.
After the Wrongful Death of a Loved One
The loss of a loved one in a car accident is a tragedy that leaves a family with feelings of anger and frustration. If your loved one lost their life because of someone else’s negligent actions, you may pursue compensation for your loss and expenses related to your loved one’s accident-related medical care, funeral expenses, and burial. A wrongful death action is a complex process, so discuss the specifics of your case with a car accident lawyer.
How Soon After a Car Accident Should You Contact an Attorney?
To preserve your legal rights, contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Insurance companies usually reach out immediately after an accident to start gathering information about your claim. All communication with an insurance company or its representatives is an opportunity for them to twist your words to deny your claim or reduce the damages they offer you.
A car accident attorney can protect your interests from the start. With the help of an attorney, you can protect your rights throughout the process, and you can avoid unnecessary delays or difficulties in your case that could put your financial recovery in jeopardy.
In the minutes and hours following a car accident, you may feel dazed, confused, and shocked. The adrenaline in the immediate aftermath of an accident can fill you with anxiety and leave you unsure whether you have sustained any injuries. While a severe injury may be evident immediately, some serious injuries don’t reveal themselves in the initial hours or even days after an accident.
While not all injuries may have catastrophic effects on a victim’s life, victims can still suffer chronic pain for months, years, or the remainder of their lives. They can rack up huge medical bills to keep treating problems that never go away. If you know what to expect physically after an accident this could help you make decisions that could be important to your health and wellbeing. And if someone else caused the accident, they should pay to help you get better—something a car accident lawyer can help you with.
Aches and Pains, or Something More?
A car accident is a jarring experience. The moment of impact can feel like it occurs in slow motion but in reality, the force of the crash violently throws your body about. From the impact itself to tightening seat belts, exploding airbags, and flying debris, many forces at play during an accident pose a danger to you.
It is understandable and expected that even after a minor collision a car accident victim will feel some aches and pains in the hours and days that follow. However, this is also the time when symptoms of more serious injuries can arise, and may indicate a need for urgent medical care. There are several types of serious injuries and conditions that can appear days or even weeks after an accident.
Common injuries with a delayed onset of symptoms include:
- Head injuries;
- Neck or back injuries, such as whiplash or spinal injuries;
- Internal bleeding;
- Nerve damage;
- Soft tissue injuries; and
Your Mental Health Can Also Suffer
In addition to the physical impacts of an accident, the mental and emotional effects of a traumatic event can take a toll. Even accidents that avoided serious injuries can leave drivers and passengers with despair, anxiety, and sadness. While this may not be a physical injury, it is an injury to your wellbeing and deserves your prompt attention and medical care to get you on a path to healing.
In recent studies conducted on victims of motor vehicle accidents, over 20 percent of car accident survivors develop PTSD associated with the accident. This is a clear indication of the overall mental health impacts of a car accident on the population. While not every accident victim suffers from PTSD, you may encounter other mental health challenges or conditions that stem from the accident and that may require therapy and treatment.
Possible indications of mental health or emotional conditions due to a car accident include feelings of:
- Persistent sadness;
- Panic attacks;
- Development of new fears;
- Irritability; and
- Mood swings.
Factors That Can Exacerbate Your Injuries
No two people ever react to an accident in the same way. This is because we all come with different life experiences and physical attributes that can make us more or less vulnerable to injury during an accident. When you evaluate or consider your symptoms or injuries, do not make the mistake of comparing yourself to another passenger or driver involved in the accident.
Occupants within the same vehicle who experience the same accident can end up with a wide range of varying injuries. Pre-existing conditions or impairments can be worsened in a car accident, leading to long-term effects.
When Should You Seek Medical Assistance?
After an accident, your primary focus must be on seeking treatment for your injuries. If you are in pain at an accident scene or have any visible injuries, accept emergency medical transportation to an emergency room for immediate evaluation.
If you didn’t feel injured at the accident scene but develop symptoms in the following days or weeks, including pain, discomfort or generally feeling unwell, seek medical care as soon as the symptoms develop. Any unnecessary delays in treatment or care can result in more serious injuries and impacts on your health.
The pursuit of prompt medical assistance and treatment is vital to protect your health as well as your legal rights in a personal injury claim. Document all information related to your injuries. By keeping detailed contemporaneous notes of your experience along with medical records, photographs, and videos, you can prepare to support your personal injury claim.
Should You Contact a Car Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident caused by someone else, contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your injuries and car accident case. While you might consider managing your personal injury claim on your own, keep in mind that it will be a time-consuming and difficult process to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Car accidents can lead to overwhelming financial expenses and prolonged pain and suffering. The at-fault driver can be held responsible for the damages they caused under the law.
A car accident lawyer can help you calculate the damages you have suffered and negotiate a settlement with the at-fault party and their insurance company on your behalf. They can guide you and represent your interests at every step of the way as you navigate the personal injury claim process.
A trip, or slip and fall, can happen to anyone at any time. If you are in immediate severe pain, have a serious visible injury, or lost consciousness after an accident, seek immediate treatment for your injury.
However, you might not know that your fall injured you. You may think you are fine only to discover later that something is wrong after all. What may first appear to be a minor slip and fall can end up being a serious injury. Many serious conditions can arise from a fall. Early detection and intervention can help ensure you get the help you need as soon as possible and prevent your condition from worsening.
If you have suffered a recent fall there are some warning signs of serious injury that you should look out for after an accident.
Warning Signs of an Internal Injury
When you suffer a fall your entire body is at risk of injury; internal injuries can result from a serious fall and may not always be apparent immediately after an accident. Internal injuries can pose a great risk to your health and require immediate medical attention.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you could have internal bleeding and should seek immediate emergency care:
- Worsening abdominal pain;
- Severe headache;
- Shortness of breath;
- Faint or dizzy feeling;
- Digestive issues including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;
- Severe bruising;
- Blood in vomit, stool, or urine;
- Low blood pressure; and/or
- An overall feeling of sudden or severe weakness.
Indications of a Possible Concussion
A concussion can occur during a fall if you hit your head on the ground or an object as you fall. Surprisingly, you can also receive a concussion even if your head did not actually hit anything; a jolt or during a fall can also cause your brain to bang against your skull, resulting in a concussion. Concussion symptoms can come on suddenly or take time to develop; sometimes they can take hours or even days.
If you notice these symptoms after a fall you could have a concussion and should seek medical care as soon as possible:
- Persistent headache;
- Tinnitus (ringing or noise in the ear);
- Feeling tired or drowsy;
- Blurred vision; and/or
- Confusion or trouble concentrating.
Possible Broken Bones or Fractures
In many cases, a broken bone is immediately apparent after a fall and accompanied by severe pain and the inability to move or bear weight on the affected area. There are circumstances, however, in which a break may not be immediately obvious. What may begin as a small fracture with little pain can worsen over time and cause a larger break or serious complications without proper treatment.
These symptoms may indicate a broken bone or fracture and you should seek medical care as soon as possible if you notice them:
- Severe pain in a specific bony area of your body;
- Pain when pressure is applied or when you move;
- Swelling and/or bruising that worsens over time;
- Deformity or abnormal appearance; and/or
- Inability to bear weight on the injured limb.
Signs of Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue injuries are quite common after a fall and include damage to ligaments, muscles, and/or tendons. Signs of an injury may not always appear immediately after a fall, or you may feel as though it is just a minor bump or bruise at first.
If you experience any of these symptoms, you could have a soft tissue injury and should seek prompt medical attention, then call a lawyer for help paying for it:
- Prominent lump or change in the appearance of the injured area;
- Difficulty bearing weight on the injured limb;
- Loss of stability in joints;
- Weakness or limited range of motion; and/or
- Pain, swelling, or bruising in the injured limb.
A General Feeling That Something Is Not Right
At the end of the day, you know your body better than anyone else. If you recently suffered a fall and are feeling unwell or in pain but cannot identify the exact location or cause, you could have sustained an injury. Slips or falls are sudden and often you may react quickly to get back up and move on with your day. Due to the adrenaline of the moment, you might not realize you are injured, but symptoms can develop slowly in the coming days and weeks. If you do not feel like yourself and sense that something is wrong after a fall, seek medical care.
What Four Steps Should You Take if You Have Symptoms After a Fall
An accident can happen anywhere, any time.
Taking these four steps following a slip and fall accident can help you protect your health and legal rights.
- Seek medical care. The most important thing you must do following a fall is to seek medical treatment for your injuries. As soon as it becomes apparent to you that you have suffered an injury because of your fall you must contact a medical provider or visit an emergency room and follow through with the necessary treatment and rehabilitation your care provider recommends.
Notify the property owner. When you suffer a fall you should make an effort to report it immediately. A fall or injury that occurs on another person’s property should be reported to the owner, manager, or employee associated with the location. If you can’t report the incident immediately, write down as many details of the incident as you can remember and report the information as soon as you can.
- Document and gather information. Keep track of all information pertaining to your fall and injuries. Record notes about events as they happen and include as many details as possible to preserve evidence and information about the incident. You may think you will remember the events later on down the line, but it can be difficult to pinpoint exact details as time passes. Keep all available evidence, records, and information related to your injury including photographs, videos, witnesses, and medical records.
- Contact a slip and fall attorney near you. If a fall injures you on someone else’s property, contact a slip and fall attorney for help and guidance with your case as soon as possible. Any slip and fall can result in unexpected financial and physical impacts. If someone else is responsible for causing your accident, they may also be responsible for reimbursing you for the financial and personal impacts that accident has had on your life.
When people think of car accidents, they often think of physical injuries—not emotional injuries. However, a car accident can cause a person involved in the accident to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. While PTSD is usually associated with war veterans, those who experience more commonplace traumatic events can also develop this psychological injury.
What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
People can suffer from PTSD after they witness or experience a terrifying event, including a car accident. PTSD symptoms can include flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares. Symptoms can last months or years and often interfere with a person’s everyday functioning.
Some people suffer severe symptoms, while others suffer minor symptoms. Without medical intervention, minor PTSD symptoms can develop into severe symptoms. If you or a loved one notice changes in your behavior after an accident, you should see a medical professional for diagnosis so that you can collect the compensation you deserve.
PTSD symptoms vary from person to person, although psychologists use common symptoms to diagnose them. Not everyone suffers from all of the symptoms. The symptoms usually start within a month of the traumatic event and can cause issues at work and in a person’s social life.
Medical professionals divide the symptoms of PTSD into four categories: intrusive memories; avoidance; negative changes in mood and/or thinking; and changes in how the person reacts to new events, both physically and emotionally.
Intrusive memories can include involuntarily reliving the traumatic car accident or having distressing memories, nightmares, and dreams about the car accident. Victims often experience severe emotional distress or have a physical reaction, such as nausea or vomiting, when something reminds the victim of the car accident. The victim can’t always stop these recurring memories and dreams without help from a mental health professional.
This symptom is exactly what it sounds like. The victim will do anything to avoid talking or thinking about the car accident, and might even avoid people, places, or activities that make them think about the car accident. For example, if you were on your way to the mall when you got into the accident, you might find yourself avoiding going to the mall after you recover from the accident.
Negative Changes to Mood and Thinking
These symptoms include the victim thinking negatively about themselves, others, or even the world. They might feel that the future holds no hope.
Additional symptoms in this category include:
- It may become difficult for the victim to remember things, including important facts about the car accident.
- The victim may have a hard time maintaining close relationships with family and friends, and/or feel detached from them.
- The victim may no longer have any interest in activities they used to enjoy.
- The victim may feel numb all the time.
- The victim can’t always feel positive emotions about themselves or their loved ones, friends, or life in general.
Physical and Emotional Reactions
Some people also notice changes in how they react to certain things, people, and events, both physically and emotionally. They might find themselves being startled easily or always looking for danger. They might have trouble sleeping and/or concentrating. They might start taking part in self-destructive behavior, such as speeding, drinking too much, or turning to drugs. Loved ones might notice that they become irritable, have angry outbursts, or that their behavior becomes aggressive. And finally, they might feel constant or overwhelming guilt or shame.
Traumatic Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents are extremely traumatic for some. Each person’s experience is unique, and the circumstances of every accident vary greatly.
For example, if a person was involved in a car accident and suffered minor injuries, but the accident severely injured a loved one in the vehicle, they may develop PTSD. On the other hand, a person might suffer traumatic injuries, and doctors tell them that although recovery will be slow, they will recover. This second accident may not be as traumatic to the victim as it would to someone who witnessed a loved one’s severe injury in a car accident.
Because researchers still do not know everything about the human brain, we don’t know who might suffer PTSD after an accident and why.
In addition to damages for physical injuries, you can also seek damages for psychological injuries you suffered because of a car accident. You might require months or years of psychological therapy, and you deserve reimbursement for those costs if someone else was at fault for the accident.
If you notice effects on your emotional well-being, or if someone you love tells you that you are acting differently after an accident, don’t take it lightly. Make an appointment with a mental health professional as soon as possible. You can’t collect compensation for psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD, without proving that the accident caused you to have these issues. A mental health professional can diagnose the cause of your psychological injury.
While you will have to provide your medical records to show the court that you suffer from PTSD because of a car accident, your accounting of what you are currently going through also helps. Keep copious notes about how you feel each day, such as when something triggers one of your symptoms. These notes can help expert witnesses come to the same conclusions that your mental health professional did and can also show the court that you do, in fact, suffer from PTSD because of the accident.