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Case Types We Handle
Personal Injuries
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Truck Accidents
Motorcycle Accidents
Bicycle Accidents
Nursing Home Abuse
Wrongful Death
Slip and Fall Accidents
Daycare Injury & Abuse
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Truck Accidents
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FAQ: What Is the Process of a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Car Accident Lawsuit Process Explained

Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

Car Accident Lawsuit Process and Overview

On this page, we’ll discuss the car accident lawsuit process, what to do after you’ve been in a car accident, who qualifies to file a car accident lawsuit, and much more.

Intro to the Legal Process in Car Accident Lawsuits

In the aftermath of a car accident, understanding the intricacies of the legal process becomes crucial.

Whether you’re a seasoned driver or an injured passenger, the aftermath of a collision can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Following the collision, car accident victims are left with numerous questions.

Many injured victims are unaware of their legal rights and how they can seek justice fro what they’ve been through.

If you’ve been the victim of a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a car accident claim.

Car Accident Lawsuit; Car Accident Lawsuit Process; Car Accident Claim; Car Accident Lawyers; Car Accident Settlements
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A successful car accident lawsuit can set you up for a settlement that can offset the financial burdens you’ve suffered after the accident.

A car accident settlement can cover your out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills and vehicle repairs.

With the right car accident and personal injury attorney by your side, you can recover non-economic damages like pain and suffering.

You do not need to navigate the car accident settlement process alone.

We are here to help you achieve justice and fair compensation.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a car accident lawsuit instantly.

Table of Contents
Car Accident Lawsuit; Car Accident Lawsuit Process; Car Accident Claim; Car Accident Lawyers; Car Accident Settlements

What To Do After a Car Accident

Experiencing a car accident at no fault of your own is jarring, but your immediate actions can significantly impact the outcome.

Fortunately, by understanding what to do after a car crash, you can maximize your chances of a successful car accident lawsuit.

Immediately after the car wreck, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure safety and seek immediate medical attention.
  2. Contact law enforcement and DO NOT admit fault.
  3. Gather evidence at the car accident scene.
  4. Exchange information with the other driver.
  5. Contact an experienced car accident lawyer.

Let’s talk about these steps in greater detail.

1. Ensure Safety and Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Your safety and the safety of others involved should be your primary concern.

If your vehicle is obstructing traffic — and if you’re able — move it to the side of the road.

Check yourself and others for injuries, and if anyone is hurt, call for medical assistance immediately.

Seeking immediate medical treatment will not just get you on the road to recovery.

It will also give you access to medical records.

You will also receive a diagnosis documenting your injuries.

Both will be pivotal pieces of evidence in your car accident claim later on.

2. Contact Law Enforcement and DO NOT Admit Fault

After contacting emergency medical services to seek medical attention, you must get law enforcement involved too.

Law enforcement will document the accident, recover witness statements, and gather information about you and the other driver.

It is extremely important that you DO NOT admit fault in the accident.

Admitting fault, especially to a law enforcement officer, may greatly impact your ability to take legal action.

The evidence gathered by law enforcement personnel will go into a police report, which will be critical to your car accident case.

It can also serve as additional evidence when the other driver’s insurance company tries to negotiate with you.

3. Gather Evidence at the Scene

Documenting the accident scene is crucial for building a strong case.

If it’s safe to do so, take clear and comprehensive photos or videos of all relevant aspects.

Capture the damage sustained by each vehicle involved, the positioning of the vehicles, and any visible injuries.

Photograph skid marks on the road, road signs, and traffic signals if they are relevant.

These visual records serve as critical evidence to reconstruct the sequence of events accurately.

Installing a dash-cam is a great way to protect yourself and ensure you have video record of any accidents.

4. Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Communicating and sharing information with the other parties involved is also crucial to your personal injury claim.

You must exchange contact details, including names, phone numbers, addresses, and insurance information.

If there are any witnesses present, gather their contact details as well.

Eyewitness accounts can provide invaluable perspectives that may support and corroborate your version of events.

While law enforcement will do this, it’s a good idea to have your own copy of eyewitness statements and testimonies.

5. Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you were injured at no fault of your own, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for any damages and injuries you’ve suffered after your accident.

You can’t do this alone — you need an experienced attorney who specializes in car accident lawsuits.

Working with an experienced attorney can maximize your chances of recovering an auto accident settlement.

Leveraging experience in car accident claims, your attorney can build your case, give you the upper hand in settlement negotiations, and deal with the other driver and the driver’s insurance company on your behalf.

If you need an attorney who can help you recover damages, we are a call away.

Contact our car accident lawyers at TorHoerman Law and get a free case evaluation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to see if you qualify for a car accident or personal injury claim.

How an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You

After a car accident, having a seasoned car accident lawyer by your side can significantly alleviate your burden.

Here’s how their expertise can guide you through the complex journey ahead:

  • Free consultation and discussion about your legal options
  • Thorough investigation and comprehensive evidence gathering
  • Calculation and assessment of total damages
  • Settlement negotiations according to assessed damages
  • Case building and representation
  • Pre-trial preparation if settlement agreement cannot be reached
  • Representation in court if necessary

Initial Consultation and Case Evaluation

Once you’ve sought legal representation, your lawyer will conduct an initial consultation.

They’ll help you understand your rights and assess the merits of your case, ensuring that you’re informed before proceeding.

Investigation and Evidence Collection

Your attorney will meticulously investigate the accident, gathering essential evidence such as accident reports, medical records, and expert testimonies.

An experienced car accident lawyer has a process that ensures that no crucial detail is overlooked.

Assessing Damages

Calculating damages comprehensively is highly important.

Your lawyer will evaluate medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and intangible losses like pain and suffering, ensuring a comprehensive claim.

Settlement Negotiations

Engaging with the other driver’s insurance company can be arduous.

Fortunately, this is another part of the car accident settlement process that your attorney can help with.

Your lawyer’s skilled negotiation will safeguard your interests, ensuring a fair settlement.

They’ll navigate the legal jargon, deal with the opposing party’s insurance provider, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Building and Filing Your Car Accident Lawsuit

If negotiations don’t pan out, your personal injury lawyer will proceed with filing a lawsuit.

Our attorneys will navigate the legal paperwork, determine the appropriate court, and serve the defendant, all while adhering to legal timelines.

Discovery and Pre-Trial Preparation

During the discovery and pre-trial phase, your car accident and personal injury attorney will exchange information with the opposing side, depose witnesses, and strategize for a trial if necessary.

Their meticulous preparation bolsters your position.

Trial and Litigation (If Necessary)

Most car accident claims don’t escalate to a trial.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should be unprepared for a court trial.

Should your case proceed to trial, your lawyer will meticulously prepare and maximize your success in court.

From cross-examinations to crafting compelling arguments, their skills and expertise in the courtroom will become your greatest asset.

The Auto Accident Lawsuit Process

The car accident lawsuit process can differ from one person to the next since no two cases are exactly the same.

Most car accident cases will consist of these steps:

  • Pre-trial phase
  • Mediation and settlement agreement negotiations
  • Trial (if necessary)
  • Verdict and post-trial matters

Pre-Trial Phase

In the pre-trial phase, your attorney will draft and file a legal complaint, outlining the details of the accident, the parties involved, and the damages you’re seeking.

The defendant will then be formally served with the lawsuit and given the opportunity to respond.

This phase also involves a process known as the discovery phase, where both sides exchange information and evidence.

This evidence can include written questions (interrogatories), document requests, and depositions, which are recorded interviews that help gather vital information.

Mediation and Settlement Offer Negotiations

Once both sides have presented their statements and evidence, discussions about compensation can begin.

During negotiations, the at-fault driver’s insurance provider will make a settlement offer.

You can either accept the offer or decline it based on whether or not you feel it suffices.

A personal injury lawyer will be critical at this stage.

Your attorney will help ensure that you receive a fair settlement offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Trial (If Necessary)

While most car accident lawsuits resolve outside the courtroom, a trial is always a possibility.

As the trial begins, several phases come into play.

The first step in the trial process is jury selection.

Jury selection is the process of choosing jurors from a pool of candidates.

Next, both sides deliver opening statements to outline their case’s key points.

Witnesses are then called to present evidence, and experts may testify to support your claims.

Cross-examination by the opposing counsel challenges the credibility and statements of your witnesses.

The closing arguments wrap up the presentations, with each side summarizing their case and emphasizing supporting evidence.

Verdict and Post-Trial Matters

After the presentation of evidence, the jury deliberates and reaches a verdict.

If the verdict is favorable, you may be awarded compensation for the damages you’ve incurred.

Following the verdict, post-trial motions can be filed by either party to challenge the outcome based on legal errors or new evidence that may have emerged during the trial.

Potential Damages in Car Accident Cases

Car accident settlements are based on the damages you’ve suffered following the accident.

In car accident lawsuits, victims can seek compensation for the losses and injuries incurred as a result of the accident.

We can broadly categorize these damages into two main types: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages refer to tangible and quantifiable losses.

Because of their quantifiability, personal injury attorneys can easily calculate them.

Economic damages typically include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Any out-of-pocket expenses you’ve incurred after your car accident happened

Of course, not all damages in auto accident lawsuits come with a set dollar value.

Damages that are subjective and reflect intangible losses are non-economic damages — and they are much more challenging to calculate.

Non-economic damages include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Wrongful death damages like loss of companionship or consortium

Evidence in Car Accident Cases

To strengthen your case, you need the right pieces of evidence.

In a vehicular accident, the following kinds of evidence will make your claim more compelling and hold the opposing side accountable to pay you a fair settlement amount.

Here are the best pieces of evidence to gather and retain after you’ve been in a car crash:

  • Accident Scene Documentation: Clear and comprehensive visual documentation of the accident scene — including photographs and videos — provides a tangible record of vehicle damage, road conditions, and relevant factors that influenced the accident. This visual evidence can help effectively recreate the sequence of events.
  • Official Police Report: Police reports serve as official records of the accident, detailing key information such as the date, time, location, and initial assessment of fault.
  • Witness Testimonies: Eyewitness accounts provide direct observations of the accident and offer unfiltered perspectives on what transpired. Character witnesses, including friends or family, can provide insight into how the accident has impacted your life.
  • Medical Records and Bills: Detailed medical reports from healthcare professionals outlining your injuries, treatment received, and prognosis offer a clear understanding of the extent of your damages. Supporting this with itemized medical bills and invoices demonstrates the financial impact of your medical care.
  • Expert Testimony: Accident reconstruction experts analyze available data to scientifically determine factors such as speed, angles, and mechanics, providing an expert opinion on fault. Medical experts, on the other hand, can explain the nature of your injuries and their link to the accident.
  • Vehicle Documentation: Documentation related to your vehicle — such as repair estimates and inspection reports — substantiates the property damage sustained in the accident. These records provide insight into the scope of repairs required.
  • Electronic Data and Communication Records: Utilizing electronic data — such as black box information from the vehicle or cellphone records — can offer valuable insights into factors like speed, braking, and potential distracted driving. Also, communication records, including text messages and calls, can shed light on any distractions at play.

Filing Car Accident Claims Within the Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations are time limits set by the law for taking legal action.

These statutes determine how long you have from the date of your accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against at-fault parties.

These statutes or time limits vary from one state to another.

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case like an auto accident is two years from the date of the incident.

In Missouri, the time limit is longer at five years.

TorHoerman Law: Your Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents can be traumatic, and having an experienced car accident lawyer on your side can make all the difference when it comes to investigating the accident, negotiating with the auto insurance company and insurance adjusters, navigating insurance coverage, and ensuring that you receive fair compensation.

Our car accident attorneys will guide you through the legal process while you focus on maximum medical improvement.

If you’ve been in a car crash, understanding the process, gathering strong evidence, and filing your lawsuit within the state’s statute of limitations are all vital steps to take.

However, you cannot do all of this alone.

With our attorneys by your side, you can maximize your chances of a successful lawsuit and be a step closer to a fair auto accident settlement.

We are here for you.

Contact TorHoerman Law for a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page to find out if you qualify for a car accident lawsuit instantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the first steps I should take immediately after a car accident?

    Your primary focus should be ensuring safety and seeking medical attention.

    Then, you should contact law enforcement, gather evidence, exchange details with the other driver, and reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer.

  • How can a car accident lawyer assist me in the aftermath of an accident?

    Contact a law firm experienced in handling car accident cases is essential for maximizing compensation.

    An experienced lawyer can:

    • Investigate accidents
    • Gather evidence
    • Assess damages
    • Negotiate with insurance companies
    • File lawsuits, including pre-trial preparations and courtroom representation if necessary.

  • What is the significance of the "statute of limitations" in car accident lawsuits?

    The statute of limitations is the time limit within which you must file a lawsuit after the accident.

    The statute of limitations varies by state.

    For instance, Illinois gives you two years, while Missouri allows five years from the accident’s date.

  • What kinds of damages can I seek compensation for after a car accident?

    There are two primary categories of damages: economic and non-economic.

    Economic damages include medical bills, property damage, and lost wages.

    Non-economic damages cover pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and losses related to wrongful death.

  • How crucial is evidence in a car accident lawsuit?

    Evidence plays a pivotal role in strengthening your claim.

    Evidence in a car accident claim can include accident scene documentation, police reports, witness testimonies, medical records, expert opinions, vehicle documents, and electronic data.

  • What if the at-fault driver's insurance company contacts me directly for a settlement?

    It’s advisable not to negotiate with the insurance company directly without consulting your attorney.

    Insurance adjusters might offer a lower settlement than you deserve.

    Your lawyer can guide you through this process and ensure you get fair compensation.

  • Do all car accident cases go to trial?

    No, most car accident claims are settled out of court.

    However, if a fair settlement cannot be reached, your attorney is prepared to represent you in a trial.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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