Being in a car accident is perhaps the most frightening and traumatic experience that most people will face in their lives. Injuries can be severe, often resulting in significant medical bills, missed time from work, and other losses. In tragic cases, the victim dies from his or her injuries, leaving family members behind to suffer the emotional and financial turmoil of the loss. Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident? Retaining seasoned legal counsel is critical to winning the damages you need. Stanfield Bechtel Law is here to fight for you.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
To seek monetary compensation, a car accident victim bears the burden of proof by explaining how the at-fault party caused the crash. It’s therefore important to understand some of the most common reasons car accidents happen. These are a few examples:
- Distracted driving, including texting or other cell phone use
- Speeding, aggressive driving, and road rage
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failure to yield
- Automobile defects such as brake problems
- Road defects such as potholes
Who Can Be Held Liable for My Car Accident?
A number of parties may be responsible for causing a car accident. In some cases, multiple individuals or entities are involved. Knowing who may be held liable for causing a wreck can help the victim maximize his or her damages award.
Other than car drivers and their insurance companies, these are some parties who may have caused the accident:
- A car passenger
- The at-fault driver’s employer, if the driver was engaged in work duties when the accident occurred
- Bus and other public transit drivers
- Car mechanics
- Repair shops
- Automobile manufacturers
- Bar and restaurant owners if they served too much alcohol to a drunk driver
- Construction contractors for creating unsafe road conditions
- Government agencies in cases of dangerous road conditions
What Does a Car Accident Victim Have to Prove to Win Damages?
Working with a car accident attorney, the victim will need to prove four elements to prevail in a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. Those elements are:
- Duty of care. A duty of care refers to an obligation to act in a manner that protects others from unreasonable danger. In the context of car accidents, all drivers have a responsibility to safely operate their motor vehicles and to obey traffic laws.
- Breach. A breach is a violation of the duty of care, evidenced by some act or omission that amounts to legal negligence. It may also be an intentional action. Examples include the above examples of car accident causes.
- Causation. This term means that the defendant’s breach directly caused injury to the victim. When numerous defendants are involved, it can be more challenging to prove causation.
- Damages. Lastly, the car accident victim has to prove what sort of losses he or she suffered and for which compensation is sought. This requires demonstrating the nature and extent of damages such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Punitive damages are available in rare cases in which the at-fault party was especially reckless or malicious in causing the accident.
What to Do After Being in a Car Accident
It’s critical that you seek medical attention for yourself and your car passengers after being in a car accident. This is true even if you believe your injuries are minor or non-existent. Many injuries do not show up immediately after an accident or can become worse in the hours and days following. Let your doctor evaluate you and follow his or her medical advice.
Not seeking medical attention can potentially jeopardize your legal claim. The more time there is between the accident and when you see a doctor, the easier it is for the at-fault party’s insurance company to claim that some intervening cause made your injuries worse. The insurer may even blame you for aggravating your own injuries. So be sure to call 911, report your injuries to the police, and get treated.
To the extent you can, begin gathering evidence related to the accident. Your lawyer will assist with this later, but starting this process early can expedite your legal claim. Start by obtaining a copy of the police report that the law enforcement officer generated in response to your accident. This document contains valuable information about the wreck, such as time, date, weather conditions, and the identities of the parties involved.
You can also take these steps:
- Document your medical expenses and treatments
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Take pictures and record video of the accident scene, including damage done to your vehicle
- Write down details about your injuries and the events leading up to the accident
Finally, retain an experienced Connecticut car accident lawyer. Your attorney will assist by:
- Reviewing the details of your accident and determining who was responsible
- Collecting evidence, including by use of formal procedures such as discovery
- Explaining the damages you may be eligible for
- Hiring expert witnesses who can substantiate your legal claim for damages
- Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company
- Taking care of all legal paperwork and court proceedings
- Seeking the maximum damages available under the law
- Representing the victim’s family in a wrongful death claim if the victim dies from his or her injuries
Contact Our Connecticut Car Accident Attorney
At Stanfield Bechtel Law, our objective is to help car accident victims get their lives back to normal as soon as possible. We understand how to build a strong legal case for the most compensation for your injuries. If a fair settlement with the insurance company is possible, we will pursue that route. But we aren’t afraid to take your case in front of a jury to demand the justice you deserve. Give us a call today to schedule your free initial consultation.