A car accident is one of the most frightening experiences someone can have. And it doesn’t end with the accident itself. After a car wreck, the victim will have significant medical expenses, lost time from work, and many other issues to deal with. If the accident was someone else’s fault, you’re wondering what your next step should be, and who will pay for your losses.
The personal injury attorneys of Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP have helped countless victims get the compensation they deserve after a car accident. We’re ready to fight for you today.
What You Should Do After A Washington, D.C. Car Accident
Your priority after you or a loved one has been in a car accident is to seek medical attention. This is true even if the injuries seem minor or you don’t think anyone has been hurt. Many car accident injuries may minor but often, they get progressively worse in the hours and days that follow. Even if the wreck seems like nothing more than a fender bender, let a doctor make the final call.
This is also important so you can preserve your right to compensation. Accident victims who fail to see a doctor immediately after a wreck can inadvertently jeopardize their claims. Delaying medical treatment gives the driver an excuse to argue that something other than the accident might have injured you, and that can spell disaster for your claim.
Call 911 to report your injuries, get the treatment you need, and make a police report. The police report will contain valuable information about the accident that will prove useful, such as time, date, and weather conditions. You or your attorney can obtain a copy of the report later.
Next, start documenting everything you can about the accident and your injuries. The police report and your medical records are a good place to start. You will also want to make your notes about the events leading up to the accident. If there were any witnesses, get their names and contact information. They can also help document what happened.
Finally, contact an experienced Washington, D.C. car accident attorney. Your attorney will walk you through the process of filing a claim against the responsible driver and what sort of damages you may be eligible for.
How Do I Prove The Other Driver Was Liable?
Car accidents come in many forms, from rear-end crashes and sideswipes to multi-vehicle collisions and pile-ups. No matter the nature of your accident, you will need to prove that the other driver was negligent to recover damages. These are a few things you’ll have to show to establish negligence:
Duty of care. The responsible driver (defendant) must owe the victim (plaintiff) a duty of care. That usually means the defendant had an obligation to drive safely. This element is not generally contested.
Breach. Car accident claims are largely focused on whether the driver breached his or her duty of care. Some several negligent acts or omissions can give rise to a breach, such as texting while driving or failure to slow down during inclement weather. The breach is typically the most disputed aspect of a car accident case.
Causation. Next, the plaintiff has to show that the breach caused the accident. If another party was responsible for the accident, then the defendant will not be held liable. There are even cases in which the driver’s negligence can void their claim.
Damages. The extent of the victim’s losses will be the final element of the case. These are known as damages, which also tend to be disputed.
What Damages Might Be Available?
Every car accident is different, but they all come down to the nature and amount of damages the victim suffered. Most car accidents involve the following damages:
- Medical bills, including for hospitalization, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and special adaptive equipment
- Lost wages due to the time missed from work for recovery, medical appointments, etc.
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages in the event the victim dies
Establishing these damages usually requires the input of expert witnesses. These are professionals who specialize in medical, scientific, economic, and other fields that relate to your injuries. For example, an expert witness can project the amount of future earnings you will lose because your injuries cut short your career prospects.
Getting damages right the first time is essential. After your case goes to trial or settles out of court, you don’t get to ask for more money if it turns out your injuries are more severe than initially thought. That’s why it’s critical to have a knowledgeable Washington D.C. car accident lawyer in your corner.
Could I Be Liable For My Own Washington, D.C. Car Accident?
There are cases in which a driver can be held liable for their accident and thereby invalidate their claim. This is known as contributory negligence, and Washington, D.C. has a strict rule about it. If the victim is even 1% responsible for an accident, he or she cannot recover. Examples could include accidents in which the victim was texting while driving or speeding, in addition to whatever negligent behavior the defendant was engaged in.
However, the negligence must be a proximate cause of the accident. That means the driver’s negligence, if any, must have contributed to the injuries in the accident.
Contributory negligence gives defendant drivers and their lawyer a defense against your lawsuit. There’s a good chance that if you’ve been hurt, the other party will look for a reason to blame you so they don’t have to pay. Having a skilled Washington, D.C. car accident attorney is therefore critical.
Contact Our Washington, D.C. Car Accident Attorney
After a car accident, all you want to do is get your life back on track. Winning the compensation you deserve for your injuries is how that begins. Give us a call at Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP to schedule your confidential consultation today.