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How to Handle Car Accident Lawsuits How to Handle Car Accident Lawsuits

How to Handle Car Accident Lawsuits

What are the steps in a car accident lawsuit?

One of the most prominent types of personal injury cases are car accident lawsuits. Nearly half of all auto accidents result in injury claims, some of which go to trial while others are settled out of court.

The first step in handling an auto accident is to act accordingly on-scene.

This is a step-by-step guide of how to handle an automobile accident:

  • Move to a Safe Area: make sure that you have not sustained any major injuries. Analyze the situation to make sure it is safe. If it is safe to do so, move your car out of the hazard zone, preferably to the shoulder of the road.
  • If it is not Safe to Move your Car: turn on your hazard light, shift into park or set your hand brake, turn off your engine. Establish a safe path out of the hazard zone before exiting your car and making your way off the road.
  • Contact Medical Professionals as well as the Authorities: regardless of how small your injuries are or how minimal damages appear to be it is important to have both medical professionals and authorities involved in the situation.
    1. 1. Injuries may not come to your attention right away and could take time to recognize. Medical professionals can help recognize these issues.
    2. 2. A police report will be helpful and sometimes necessary for your insurance claims.
  • Get Information from all Parties Involved in the Accident: act objectively and under no circumstances allow your emotions to influence your interactions. Obtain all the following information-
    1. 3. Driver’s license information from all parties involved in the accident
    2. 4. Insurance policy information from all parties involved in the accident
    3. 5. License plate numbers, make & model of all vehicles involved in the accident
    4. 6. Name & badge number of any authorities involved in the process
  • Provide Only General Information to other Parties Involved: do not interact with other parties with exception of initially making sure that they are not injured and exchanging information. The only information that you should provide –
    1. 7. Driver’s license information
    2. 8. Insurance policy information as well as insurance agent information
    3. 9. Any information requested by authorities or medical professionals
  • Do Not Admit Fault: under no circumstance should you admit that you were the cause of the accident. You are not an expert; therefore, you don’t initially know who is at fault.

Follow this guide for a full explanation on gathering evidence.

Compensation for damages in auto accidents

There are many negative consequences that result from auto accidents, ranging from minor scrapes and bruises and small property damage, to more serious, even life-threatening injuries, and major property damage.

Especially for more serious injuries, time and monetary costs add up quickly. If you have suffered an injury in an auto accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for those damages. If you have suffered from property loss, you are also eligible for compensation. You may also be able to receive additional compensation for punitive damages based on the severity of the accident and the circumstances surrounding the situation.

Follow this guide for a full explanation of compensation eligibility

You must establish that another person is liable for your damages to receive compensation. Liability due to negligence is the most common way that someone is held accountable for another driver’s damages in an auto accident lawsuit.

File a lawsuit or reach a settlement?

After properly handling the on-scene situation, you will need to decide what legal action you want to take. You may be enticed to file a lawsuit and go to trial with hopes of maximizing your payout, but a car accident lawsuit can be an expensive and time-consuming process. A safer and quicker option might be negotiating a settlement with the other parties involved.

There are advantages and disadvantages for both options.

Settling Out of Court

Advantages:

  • avoid high court costs
  • avoid the hassle of a trial
  • receive compensation right away
  • no chance of losing the trial and your compensation

Going to Trial

Advantages:

  • a judge or jury may decide you are entitled to more than you would be in settlement
  • less public disclosure for liable party’s actions

It just comes down to the cost-benefit of going to trial.

Do you think that the potential costs of a trial outweigh the benefits? Will you get a higher payout for filing a lawsuit or settling out of court?

These are difficult questions to answer, so it may be beneficial to seek legal consultation to help you decide what option is best for you.

How do I choose a car accident lawyer?

A car accident lawyer can help you decide if settling or going to trial would be the most beneficial option for you. A car accident lawyer can also help you in the process of gathering evidence and assessing damages. At Tor Hoerman Law, our team of car accident lawyers are experts in the laws and legal process of auto accident lawsuits. We can help you make the important decisions to ensure that you receive the highest possible compensation for damages that you endured in your auto accident.

I have a lawyer, what is next?

After you have hired an auto accident lawyer, the next step will be filing a demand letter. Your lawyer will put together all the evidence and a list of damages. This letter is a claim. A claim explains what you believe you are entitled to. After the claim has been reviewed by the other party, all parties involved enter settlement talks.

The other driver’s insurance company will likely handle the claim. If the other driver does not have proper auto insurance, then their lawyer will handle your claim.

The insurance company or defense lawyer will make a counter-offer for your demand. You can either agree upon a settlement or deny the counter-offer. The negotiation process can be drawn out, and there might be multiple counter-offers. If you are unable to reach a final settlement, you will likely go to trial.

If you go to trial:

Your auto accident lawyer will file a legal formal complaint to the court and to the other parties involved. You will enter a discovery process, where all evidence from both sides is shared. During discovery, you may also be asked to be deposed by the other side and vice-versa.

After discovery, you will enter a trial. The trial can either be decided by a judge or jury, depending on what option your lawyer feels is likely to benefit you more. The judge or jury will hear both sides arguments, review all documents and evidence, and make a decision.

This process can be extremely time-consuming a potentially expensive. While our auto accident lawyers work on contingency, court costs can still add up. Trials can take days to weeks. You must consider this when deciding whether to take a settlement.

Distracted Driving – A growing problem

Distracted Driving has continued to be a growing problem on U.S. roadways. Tor Hoerman Law has recognized the threat of this growing epidemic. We have made it our mission to get the word out to end distracted driving.

What is Distracted Driving?

Contrary to popular belief, distracted driving is not limited to driving while using your cell phone. In fact, distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving.

This included, but is not limited to:

  • Texting
  • Talking on the Phone
  • Eating & Drinking
  • Talking to Passengers
  • Fiddling with Vehicle Electronics

There are 3 specific types of distracted driving:

  1. 1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  2. 2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  3. 3. Cognitive: taking your mind off driving

Distracted Driving Statistics

In 2015 alone, distracted driving resulted in 391,000 injuries and claimed the lives of 3,477 passengers in the United States alone. Fatalities in 2015 were up from 2013, where 3,154 lives were lost because of distracted driving, which is a 10% increase from 2012 fatalities.

One of the most common types of distracted driving among all demographic groups is talking on a cell-phone while driving. Research shows that talking on the phone quadruples your risk of an accident.

Though almost everyone agrees that driving while using a cellphone is unacceptable, many drivers still openly admit that they practice these unsafe behaviors.

“The results of a random survey of drivers showed that while 90% agree that cell-phone use while driving is “unacceptable”, 35% of the same group admitted to using a cell-phone to text or call while driving.”

“During daylight hours, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving.”

Texting is the most prominent form of dangerous distracted driving, especially among young adults age 16-24. A simple one-word text can take your eyes off the road for seconds.

In fact: At 55 mph, the average text takes your eyes off the road long enough to cover the length of an entire football field.

Research also shows that texting and driving double your risk of an accident as compared to driving under the influence.

More statistics on the dangers of distracted driving can be found here:
https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/driver_electronic_device_use_in_2015_0.pdf
from studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Driving is a privilege that required the full extent of your attention. When you choose to drive while distracted you are not just putting yourself at risk, you are putting the lives of everyone else on the road at risk as well.

The Laws Regarding Distracted Driving

Your state government mandates the laws for distracted driving. While the rules differ by state, many states are making an effort to stop distracted drivers by enforcing stricter laws and issuing heavier fines to lawbreakers. You can learn more about IL and MO distracted driving laws here

Illinois:
http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/drivers/traffic_safety/distracted.html
.

Missouri: https://www.dmv.com/mo/missouri/distracted-driving-laws.

What You Can Do to End Distracted Driving

  • Make a Pledge
    • Pledge to not drive while distracted.
    • Influence your family and friends to make a pledge as well.
      • Set goals and punishments for yourself, your friends and family to help keep you on the right track.
  • Talk to your Children
    • Especially new drivers and teenagers. They are more likely to drive while distracted so you should express how important it is to you that they don’t.
    • Show them the statistics on the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Set a Good Example for Others
    • Whether it be to your children, friends are other family members.
    • Do not drive distracted, especially when you have passengers.

As an effort to help promote ending distracted driving, our team at Tor Hoerman Law conducts presentations for local community organizations and schools, spreading the wordaboutn the dangers of distracted driving. If you are interested in having a member of Tor Hoerman Law present for your school, workplace or community group contact us.

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