Traffic accidents are unfortunately common, especially with the rise in cellphone use. If a driver is negligent or distracted behind the wheel, it can quickly result in a serious collision that causes harm to other parties.
Fortunately, a dedicated local attorney could assist you with seeking financial compensation after such an incident. Do not hesitate to speak with a Fort Wayne car accident lawyer at our firm about your legal options.
Common Injuries from Vehicle Wrecks
Since the circumstances surrounding car accidents can vary greatly, the extent of damages to an individual’s personal property or their person can also range greatly. However, given the commonalities between standard vehicles and safety equipment, if employed, there are some injuries more common than others, including:
- Lacerations and burns
- Broken bones
- Head, neck, and spinal cord injuries
- Amputated or paralyzed limbs
Due to the severity of these injuries, motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists injured by a negligent driver often require substantial medical care. As such, it is important anyone injured in a car crash in Fort Wayne speaks with an experienced attorney who could assist them in being fairly compensated for their medical bills and personal harm.
Types of Car Accidents
Car accidents occur under many different circumstances. These accidents could involve a single car or multiple vehicles. While the facts surrounding a car accident could vary, these collisions all share the potential for severe injuries.
Head-on collisions often involve severe or fatal injuries. These accidents involve damage to the front-end of two vehicles. One of the reasons this type of accident has severe consequences is the tremendous force generated by two vehicles striking each other while traveling at opposite directions.
Side-impact collisions involve damage to the side of a motor vehicle. These accidents come in two categories: T-bone and broadside collisions. A T-bone collision results from the front of one car striking the side of another. Broadside collisions—also known as sideswipe accidents—occur when the sides of two cars collide.
Rollover car accidents are particularly dangerous. These accidents occur when a motorist loses control of their vehicle, causing to it flip and roll. Rollover accidents often involve a single vehicle.
Responsible Parties for Vehicle Collisions
For most people, the immediate response to an accident with another driver is to assume they were at fault. Often that is the case. After all, driver error is the primary cause of motor vehicle collisions. It is important to remember that other parties could also be responsible for your accident. The parties that could be responsible for an accident include:
The Other Driver
The obvious defendant for most car accident lawsuits is the other motorist involved in the crash. There are countless ways the negligence of another driver could result in a motor vehicle collision. Motorists could cause an accident by speeding, driving while intoxicated, or failing to yield the right-of-way. When drivers commit moving violations or are otherwise careless behind the wheel, the could face responsibility for any accidents they cause.
When a driver negligently causes an accident, their employer could be on the hook for any damage that occurs. This is true when the driver was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash. If that person was on a personal errand or not otherwise performing work duties, the employer could avoid liability. An attorney could help determine where an employer faces any liability for an accident.
The negligence of the employer could also result in financial liability. For example, it could be possible to sue an employer based on their negligent hiring practices or refusal to maintain the company vehicle in safe working order.
Sometimes an accident occurs due to a mistake made by a mechanic. From installing a new part incorrectly to making a defective repair, a mechanic could cause an issue in a vehicle that leads to a collision. When this happens, it could be possible to hold them accountable through a personal injury lawsuit.
Car accidents often occur due to mechanical failure or other form of defect. When a mechanical defect in a motor vehicle causes an accident, it could be possible to pursue a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer.
Available Compensation in Fort Wayne
The financial losses and personal injuries someone experienced in a car wreck are known as damages. Damages are often divided into different categories primarily based on how easy it is to calculate their value.
The losses that have a set monetary value, such as medical bills, vehicle repair costs, prescription costs, and lost wages, are known as economic damages. On the other hand, intangible losses, such as pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, and decreased quality of life, do not have a set monetary value and are known as non-economic damages.
In some cases, punitive damages may be available, but these are reserved for particularly egregious cases. If the defendant driver in an auto collision case was texting while driving or intoxicated at the time of the accident, the claimant should speak with their Fort Wayne lawyer about seeking punitive damages. Establishing Fault Through Driver Negligence
In order to recover compensation for a traffic accident, the injured party must prove the other driver was negligent. Negligence occurs when someone breaches a duty they owe to someone else, which causes an injury.
For example, every motorist has a duty to drive their vehicles safely and responsibly. If a motorist fails to operate their vehicle safely by turning their attention to something else such as a cellphone and collide into another vehicle, causing harm to the driver or their property, they have breached that duty and are negligent.
However, proving each element required to establish negligence may be a challenging task most suited for a traffic accident attorney in Fort Wayne. When engaging in litigation or settlement discussions, intimate knowledge of the law and judicial system are valuable attributes that cannot be easily substituted.
The Importance of Having Uninsured and Underinsured Insurance Coverage
A motor vehicle accident can have detrimental effects on someone’s health and finances. Indiana law requires a minimum insurance of 25/50/10 ($25,000 for each person for bodily injury, minimum liability limit of $50,000 for each accident, and a minimum of $10,000 in coverage for property damage). However, even if you have insurance in place yourself, you still run the risk of getting into an accident with someone that does not have active insurance.
To minimize this risk, every person should have Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage (“UM and UIM Coverage”). The importance of this coverage is highlighted by Indiana’s statute requiring every insurance company to offer UM and UIM Coverage and requiring written waiver if the insured elects not to purchase the coverage (Indiana Code 27-7-5-2).
So, what is UM and UIM Coverage? Uninsured (UM) Coverage is an insurance coverage by your own insurer that would be applicable if you got into an accident with someone without insurance. Alternatively, underinsured (UIM) Coverage provides insurance that would be in addition to the at-fault drivers insurance if the limit is not high enough to cover the damages. For example, if you got into a serious accident and had $70,000 worth of bills, but the at-fault driver only had $50,000 worth of liability coverage, your UIM coverage would cover the additional $20,000 in damages.
Insurance companies will charge a separate premium for UM and UIM coverage. The premium will correlate directly with the amount of coverage. For example, you will be charged a higher premium for $100,000 of UM/UIM Coverage than you would be for $50,000 of coverage. The additional monthly premium is absolutely worth not taking the risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
The steps you take following a car crash could dramatically impact the outcome of your future injury case. The right steps could protect your injury claim while the wrong step could put your case at risk.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
A person injured in a car accident should seek care from a medical professional immediately. This is true whether you are living with a debilitating injury or if your condition seems relatively minor. It is not uncommon for these injuries to worsen over time, making it critical to see a doctor right away. Some injuries do not exhibit symptoms right away. For that reason, it is helpful to pursue medical care for seemingly minor injuries.
Do Not Discuss The Case
Discussing the facts surrounding an accident is a good way to put a personal injury claim at risk. This is true in the moments after the crash while exchanging information with the other driver. The most important time to avoid discussing the nature of an accident is with the other driver’s insurance company. Insurers will frequently take things out of context in an effort to avoid paying out on injury claims.
Talk to an Attorney
The one exception when it comes to discussing an injury case is with an attorney. In fact, speaking with an attorney could be the best way to protect a personal injury case following a car accident. The guidance of an attorney could be invaluable through every step of the litigation process. Their assistance is vital when it comes to negotiating a monetary settlement or evaluating the issues that might come up at trial.
There is no requirement under the law than an injury victim must hire an attorney. However, the benefits that come with hiring skilled legal counsel could make all the difference.
The Deadline to File a Lawsuit
While there is an opportunity to pursue a civil lawsuit following a car accident, that opportunity is not open-ended. If the injured party waits too long to file their lawsuit, they could miss out on compensation due to the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for a car accident injury case is two years. The two-year period begins to expire on the date of the accident. Complying with this deadline is important, as filing a lawsuit after the statute expires could put an injury claim in jeopardy. Following a violation of the statute of limitations, the court is likely to dismiss the case with prejudice.
There are some exceptions that pause the statute of limitations. Some of these exceptions, including the concealment of liability, rarely applies to car accident cases. The most common exception that applies to car accident cases involve legal disabilities. A legal disability includes a minor under the age of 18 or an adult that is mentally incapacitated. Given what is at stake, it is risky to assume these exceptions will apply. Instead, discuss the deadline to file a lawsuit with an experienced attorney.
Seek Help from a Fort Wayne Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were harmed by a reckless or careless driver, you have legal options available to you. A skilled Fort Wayne car accident lawyer could help you gather evidence to prove the negligent motorist is liable for all of your personal and financial losses. Call our firm today to schedule your initial consultation.