Most car accidents happen when other people drive carelessly, recklessly, or unreasonably. However, even when another driver clearly causes an accident, that driver's insurance company may shift some or all of the blame onto the injured accident victim. For example, the insurance company may allege that the accident victim caused or contributed to the car accident or that their injuries were not severe.
Unlike what they advertise, insurance companies are not in the business of helping people or paying out large monetary settlements in car accident claims and lawsuits.
Insurance companies want to do the exact opposite. The more money these big businesses have to pay out as part of a car accident settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award, the less they can keep in-house for themselves. Therefore, insurance adjusters will often resort to any tactic to try and undermine the seriousness of a car accident claim.
Given the inherent difficulties of working with insurance companies, you need skilled legal counsel representing you at every stage of your claim or lawsuit. Your car accident lawyer will understand the tricks and tactics that insurance companies routinely use to try and undervalue car accident claims. Your car accident attorney can handle all dealings with insurance company representatives on your behalf, including settlement negotiations.
They can then pursue the most monetary damages available to you in your case. Finally, if the insurance company does not compensate you fairly for your injuries, your car accident lawyer can help you file a lawsuit in the court system against the responsible driver.
Throughout the entire settlement and litigation process, your attorney can answer all your legal questions and help you make informed and intelligent decisions at every stage of your case.
Successfully Proving an Auto Accident Claim
In a car accident claim or lawsuit, the injured accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. On the other hand, the driver who caused the accident does not have to prove anything or satisfy any legal burden.
First, the accident victim must establish that the other driver owed them a legal duty of care. Since all drivers are responsible for driving reasonably and carefully under the circumstances, this element of proof is relatively easy to satisfy.
Next, the accident victim must establish that the other driver violated their legal duty of care in some manner, such as by breaking one or more traffic laws or engaging in distracted or intoxicated driving.
In some instances, this element of proof can be challenging to establish, especially if the insurance company disputes fault or liability in the accident. For example, the insurance company might allege that their insured did not cause the crash or that the accident victim caused or contributed to it. However, to combat this allegation in your case, your lawyer can present the testimony of an expert accident reconstructionist.
An accident reconstructionist can meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your accident, visit the accident scene, review police reports, and speak with witnesses. They can then prepare a detailed description of how your accident occurred and who is at fault.
Moreover, if your case goes to a jury trial and the insurance company still disputes liability, your expert can testify on the witness stand that, based on their investigation, the other driver caused the accident.
Your attorney can also call the responding police officer to the witness stand at trial and have them authenticate their police report. The police report will indicate how the accident occurred, who likely caused it, and whether or not the at-fault driver received a traffic citation following the accident.
In addition to showing that the other driver violated the legal duty of care, the accident victim will need to establish that this violation was a direct cause of the accident and the injuries they suffered.
In some cases, insurance companies will dispute the validity of an accident victim's claimed injuries. For example, they might argue that one or more of the injuries are pre-existing or that they are otherwise unrelated to the traffic accident.
To establish the causal connection between the accident and your injuries, your attorney can appoint a qualified medical expert to draft a report or testify on the witness stand in your case. That medical expert can state, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, that your claimed injury or injuries directly stemmed from the accident.
Furthermore, a medical provider can establish that you suffered one or more permanent injuries in your accident, such as a full or partial paralysis injury or spinal cord injury. Unlike most injuries that recover at some point, permanent injuries may cause an accident victim to experience pain for the rest of their life.
A skilled car accident attorney in your area can help you satisfy your legal burden of proof so that you can recover monetary compensation for all of your accident-related losses.
How Car Accidents Happen
Most car accidents occur when other people drive irresponsibly under the circumstances. One common cause of accidents is failing to follow established traffic laws. For example, a driver might speed, fail to use their turn signal, or fail to yield the right-of-way to another vehicle or pedestrian when it is proper to do so.
Auto accidents can also happen when drivers fail to utilize various devices on their vehicles, including rearview mirrors, side view mirrors, and backup cameras. When drivers fail to use these devices while driving – and while pulling in and out of parking spaces – they may cause a severe accident that leads to injuries for someone else.
Some auto accidents happen when people drive in an overly aggressive manner. This type of driving is sometimes called road rage. Drivers engage in road rage when they negligently tailgate other vehicles, attempt to cut other cars off in traffic, weave around heavy traffic, or fail to use their turn signals when switching lanes in heavy traffic.
All of these activities may catch another driver off guard and significantly increase the chances of causing an accident.
Crashes can happen when drivers become distracted while driving. In some circumstances, a driver might look at their cell phone, smartwatch, GPS navigation system, or other electronic devices instead of observing the road.
At other times, a driver may become distracted when vehicle passengers engage in horseplay or otherwise divert the driver's attention away from the road. When a driver looks away or looks down, they may fail to see another vehicle or pedestrian and cause an accident that leads to severe injuries.
Some traffic accidents are a direct result of DUI or driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Alcohol intoxication is extremely dangerous because it often brings about severe physical and mental symptoms.
For example, an intoxicated driver may be unable to see clearly, or they may experience nausea and dizziness, causing them to drive erratically. Similarly, an intoxicated individual may be unable to concentrate on the road attentively, or they may experience delayed reaction time and impaired reflexes. As a result, they may not stop their vehicle quickly enough to avoid a crash.
When people drive carelessly and recklessly, they may cause several different types of accidents, depending on the setting and the surrounding circumstances.
Common car accidents that result from another driver's negligence include:
- Rear-end accidents, where one vehicle hits the back of another car, usually because of speeding or tailgating.
- Broadside or T-bone collisions, where one vehicle hits the side of another car, usually at highway merge lanes or traffic intersections, where a driver fails to yield the right-of-way at the proper time
- Head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles strike one another while traveling in opposite directions, usually because the at-fault driver is intoxicated or distracted
- Sideswipe accidents, where the sides of two vehicles hit one another while traveling in the same direction, usually because the at-fault driver is not paying careful attention to the road
If you suffered injuries in one of these accidents that resulted from another driver's careless behavior, you are not alone. However, retain a skilled attorney to represent you in your case as quickly as possible.
If the insurance company disputes fault for your accident, your lawyer can help you rebut this allegation and pursue the monetary recovery you need in your case.
Car Crash Monetary Damages
Accident victims who satisfy their legal burden of proof may recover damages in their case, including payments for:
- Related medical expenses
- Lost earnings
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of use of a body part
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
Many people overlook certain compensable losses, and insurance companies will never volunteer compensation you do not demand. You need a legal professional to calculate your damages, as they know everything the law entitles you to receive. The right attorney will never undervalue your pain, suffering, and other intangible losses. They will always consider your future estimated losses, as well.
Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
If you recently suffered physical injuries in an auto accident that you did not cause, you should involve legal counsel in your case right away. Your attorney can challenge the insurance company's assertion that you caused or contributed to your accident by retaining an accident reconstructionist or other expert to testify in your case.
Your lawyer can also represent you at all legal proceedings throughout your case, including a discovery deposition, civil jury trial, or binding arbitration proceeding.
During the process, your lawyer will safeguard all of your legal rights and do everything possible to help you maximize your total monetary award, either through a favorable settlement offer or litigation result. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your personal injury lawyer in St. Louis can fight your legal battles for you.