When an individual suffers personal injury from an auto accident, they may assume that pursuing litigation will be a quick and relatively effortless process. However, the reality is that there are many aspects involved in navigating litigation that are often overlooked by the average citizen. That's where car accident claim lawyers can help fill in the gaps.
Car accident lawyers help accident victims through this process of pursuing litigation. There are many aspects of litigation that prospective plaintiffs can only be made aware of through frequent consultation and collaboration with an experienced local personal injury attorney. Obtaining legal representation from a car accident claim lawyer is the most foolproof way to ensure that you are fully exercising your legal rights to seek fair compensation for your injury. Read on for what you can learn from car accident claim lawyers.
Insurance Claims for Personal Injury Can be Inaccurate
After an individual is involved in a motor vehicle accident, their first course of action is often contacting their own insurance provider and submitting a claim for the damage. Insurance agencies are responsible for paying out claims for damages that fall within their realm of coverage. However, if the individual suffered serious injury as a result of the accident, insurance companies do not typically reimburse for any medical treatment that the accident victim must receive, unless the insured has “medical payments coverage”.
Medical payments coverage is often referred to as “Med Pay”. Med Pay limits are typically less than $10,000. The victim typically needs to initially rely on their health insurance policy to address any medical expenses. This is Ok because the insured can get the benefit of her health insurance negotiated discounted rates and will ultimately get the full cost of the medical bills from the at-fault driver’s auto carrier.
What car accident injury victims often fail to consider when submitting claims to their car insurance providers is that these companies, like any other private enterprise, are driven by profit. The algorithms they use when analyzing accident claims are all rooted in an attempt to maximize their profit while minimizing their losses. As part of this process, these companies often fail to consider the specific circumstances that surround an individual personal injury claim.
Personal injury attorneys work with car accident victims to fill in the gaps left by these auto insurance companies. The formulaic approach taken by insurance companies cannot by design always account for the multitude of different damages an accident victim is entitled to when someone else’s negligence is determined to be the cause of their personal injuries as well as any damage to their vehicle or other property. Especially if the victim is dealing with a unique case, for example they were struck by an uninsured driver, they need the expertise to guide them through. Only through consultation and collaboration with an experienced local personal injury attorney can accident victims realize the full extent of monetary compensation for damages to which they are entitled.
Timing Counts When Pursuing Litigation
After sustaining personal injury from a car wreck, victims are likely going to want to take ample time to heal both physically and mentally. The trauma of an auto accident, especially when the other motorist was the at fault driver, can leave accident victims in a state of uncertainty about how exactly to proceed.
What personal injury lawyers know and many average Americans do not is that there is a time limit on how long after an auto accident a victim can file a lawsuit against the offending party. Known as a “statute of limitations,” any attempt to file a claim after this specified time limit is likely going to be turned down by the civil court system.
Illinois state law sets the statute of limitations for most personal injury court claims at two years for personal injuries and five years for injury to property. Because accident victims may not be aware of the importance of the statute of limitations, it is an all too common occurrence for prospective plaintiffs to seek legal counsel from an experienced local personal injury attorney only to discover that they are too late. Therefore, it is imperative that accident victims seek professional legal counsel as soon as they can after being involved in an accident.
Social Media can Impact a Personal Injury Case
In contemporary American society, it is all too common for individuals to share more personal and identifying information with the world than any other time in modern history. When someone is involved in a car crash, they may be immediately tempted to pull out their smartphone, take some pictures of the wreckage, and post the pictures to their various social media accounts. However, any personal injury attorney who has practiced law in the age of camera phones knows that this could be a prospective plaintiff’s biggest mistake. Any information someone posts to their social media accounts, including photos and status updates, can be used against them in the course of personal injury litigation. When gathering evidence for a case, the other party's attorney will absolutely look at your social media accounts.
Photos of the accident present too many opportunities for insurance adjusters to delegitimize or downplay your injuries. Although it may be tempting and even reflexive to pull out your phone and create a post after an auto accident or even at the accident scene, it is advised that you refrain from doing so. In addition, definitely avoid posting anything from a hospital trip or any other type of medical attention. This is almost as detrimental as providing medical records to the other party's insurance company before consulting an attorney. Controlling the content that you post will help your personal injury legal team control the narrative presented to the court as you prepare to build your case and head to trial. As a result, you're increasing the odds of being rewarded the maximum compensation possible.
Compensation is Possible Even if You are Partially Responsible
When someone is involved in an auto accident with another vehicle, there are certainly occasions where the other driver’s negligent behavior was clearly the sole reason why the accident occurred. In these cases, it may be relatively easy for your personal injury attorney to help you structure a case that will present to the court why you should be completely compensated for your damages.
While entering into litigation with zero fault is obviously an attractive position for a plaintiff to be in, the reality is that it is much more likely that the fault for an auto accident will be shared between both the plaintiff and the defendant. When this happens, accident victims may be unsure about their chances at recovering monetary compensation for the damages they have incurred.
Plaintiffs should feel relieved to learn that they are often able to recover fair compensation, even if they are partially at fault for the accident. Illinois uses a system of fault determination known as “modified comparative negligence.” Under this system, a court will look at the actions of each party involved in an accident and assess a degree of fault to each individual. As long as a plaintiff’s proportion of fault for the accident does not exceed 50%, they will still be able to recover compensation for their damages.
If the plaintiff is deemed to be more than 50% responsible for the accident, however, he or she will forfeit any chance at recovering monetary compensation. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced local car accident attorney to determine if pursuing litigation makes sense given the unique circumstances of the individual case in question.
An important aspect of Illinois’s modified comparative negligence system is that if a plaintiff is deemed to be somewhat responsible for the accident, the amount of compensation they are ultimately able to receive will be reduced by a factor that is proportionate to their degree of fault. For example, a plaintiff who is found to be 15% at fault for the accident can still be awarded compensation for their damages, but the ultimate award amount will be reduced by 15% to reflect their level of fault in the crash.
Personal Injury Cases Can Take Time
After incurring financial and personal damages in an accident, victims may want to move quickly through the litigation process. After all, medical bills and repairs to their vehicle are likely to come due relatively soon after the accident has occurred. However, auto accident lawyers are often quick to advise their clients that the process of personal injury law can take some time.
While there is no predetermined length of time that a trial can take, many personal injury cases are completed within one to two years. However, any experienced attorney will tell you that they can take much longer, especially if the case is particularly complex and involves issues of medical malpractice or product liability. So if you or a loved one are the victim of a personal injury accident, remember that litigation and compensation require patience. Many car accident claim lawyers offer a free case evaluation, so they may be able to estimate how long your unique case could take.
There are Many Different Kinds of Compensation Available
Just as there are many different types of car accidents, there are also different kinds of compensation you could win. When plaintiffs imagine pursuing litigation, they often think of being awarded compensatory damages. This is the term given to monetary awards given by the court in order to “compensate” a plaintiff for their damages. If the other driver's insurance company does not come forward with a fair settlement offer, pursuing compensation through litigation is your next option. For example, if a motorist was drunk driving and collided with your vehicle causing broken bones, compensatory damages include items such as medical bills, lost wages from time off work, and property damage.
Compensation can also be awarded for more abstract concepts and issues related to the accident. A common term used by car accident lawyers to refer to non-economic damages is “pain and suffering,” which is used to describe the long-term mental impact and changes to quality of life that an accident victim experiences after a crash. Even family members of deceased victims in wrongful death cases may sue for non-economic damages such as loss of consortium and mental/emotional anguish. Treatment for trauma, emotional distress, and experiencing a degradation in quality of life due to catastrophic injuries can all be considered as damages and eligible for compensation by the courts.
Finally, in events where the negligence of the at fault party is particularly extreme and reckless, the court may decide to award punitive damages to the plaintiff as well. These are intended to “punish” the defendant for their actions and send a message to any potential future offenders. Although not related to the costs incurred by the plaintiff, punitive damages are nevertheless awarded to the plaintiff and are often capped as a multiplier of whatever amount was awarded in compensatory damages.
Seeking Professional Legal Counsel
There are many aspects of the personal injury claims process that the average American simply cannot be expected to understand without the guidance of an experienced auto accident attorney. For years, the law firm of Palermo Law Group has been helping accident victims in Oak Brook and throughout Chicagoland as they navigate this process. We also operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we don't get paid until you get fair compensation. Contact Palermo Law Group today for a free consultation and legal advice regarding your unique car accident case.