Being involved in a car accident can be very traumatic, even if nobody is injured. Various laws are in place that determine who is responsible for any damage, whether it is personal or property. The area of law that relates to car accidents is negligence, which is governed mainly by state law. This means that the small details can vary from location to location, however, there are four basic principles that apply when it comes to compensation. Wherever you live in the US, it is the elements of duty, breach, causation and harm that must be proved.
What is Meant by Duty?
This refers to the duty every driver has when driving a vehicle on the highway. They are legally obliged to follow the rules of the road, and also have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles in a reasonable manner. In other words, they must drive safely, at a safe speed, be aware of their surroundings, obey traffic signals, and use their headlights and blinkers when required. There is very little that can be argued when it comes to duty.
A Breach of Duty has to be Proven
It must be proven that the defendant was in breach of their duty, which can make the legal proceedings much more complex. Proof can be provided in several ways, such as:
- Direct evidence
- Statements from witnesses
- Video surveillance
- Admission of guilt
- Circumstantial evidence, such as skid marks on the road and paint smudges.
What is Causation?
It is not automatically assumed that the defendant’s actions caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff must prove causation. In relation to a car accident, this proof is provided by medical testimony. They will show that the injuries were not present before the accident and that they were caused by the crash. Harm also has to be shown to have occurred, and a ‘near miss’ will not be eligible for compensation. When all the above has been shown, the plaintiff can ask for compensation, which could be to cover the loss of wages, medical costs, pain and grief.
What Should You Do after an Accident?
Many of us wouldn’t know what to do in the event of an accident, however, it’s in your best interest to learn, especially because statistics show that it is likely to happen at least once in your lifetime. Remember to fill out an accident report so it shows up in the ppsr REVS check.
After the event of a car accident, never admit to being at fault when questioned. Even an apology to the other driver could be used against you. Getting in touch with an auto accident attorney is important because they will be able to collect the evidence you have gathered and use it to your advantage. If you’ve got your smartphone on you, make a video of the scene, both close up and from a distance. Keep a note of the police officers who attend the scene, as you will need copies of their reports later. Also exchange information with others involved, such as insurance details, phone numbers, names and each other’s address.
Being involved in a traffic incident is stressful enough, and if you don’t take the right steps and understand what is required of you, it will be even more upsetting in the long run. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you will be entitled to compensation. However, only an experienced lawyer will be able to help you recover the cost of the damage.
6 million car accidents happen every year in the US. With these startling figures, it’s likely you’ll find yourself involved in one at least once during your lifetime. However, not all of us understand or know what to do if you’re involved in a car accident, and being left unprepared can have drastic consequences, from not getting the right information from the other parties involved, to not collecting enough evidence of the scene. Although many of us will suffer from shock in the event of a crash, you need to learn the steps to take if it were ever to happen to you.
Step 1: Stop
If you’re at fault, then the urge to drive away from the accident may be strong. You should, however, stop and stay there, even if it’s a minor accident. If a person has been injured, call for an ambulance. You should also call the police if there is any obstruction to the road. What’s more, if you need to file a claim with your insurance company, you will need a police report.
The vehicles that are involved in the accident must stay where they are, unless they are interfering with traffic on the highway, and you and the other drivers involved should put their flashers on so that other drivers coming your way are notified of the accident. If the accident happens at night time, be sure to try and light up the accident as much as you can.
Step 2: Make a Record of the Scene
No matter how minor the accident is, be sure to make a record of the scene so that the evidence can be used if it were ever to go to court. Take photos on your cell phone, and gather the information of the other drivers. You should exchange the following information: name, address, phone number, policy number, insurance company, driver license number and the license plate number.
Photos can be used when the police arrive and submitted as evidence to insurance companies if there’s a dispute as to who is at fault. If the accident is serious and you have been injured but are unsure how to move forward, be sure to contact an Orlando car accident attorney for guidance and advice. Evidence of the scene will be crucial to the case if it were to go to trial.
Step 3: Contact Your Insurance Company
You should contact your insurance company and notify them of the accident as soon as possible. This is vital because your policy may have a clause in it that requires immediate reporting. You may be able to recover the cost of medical bills if you have this cover in your policy.
Step 4: Get Medical Attention
This is vital, unless you are certain you’ve not been injured. However, do bear in mind that some injuries will not become visible until a few hours or even days later. Even a very minor impact can cause spinal damage. You may also have suffered a concussion if you briefly lost consciousness.
A car accident can cause shock and even PTSD if the event was serious, however, whether you were at fault or not, be sure to follow the steps listed above. Hire a professional attorney and ask for their help in the matter, and report the accident to your insurance company. If you’ve been injured, then you need to seek medical attention.
The cases of personal injuries arise when someone gets injured resulted from the negligent or intentional acts. Talking about personal injuries, it is divided into two parts, i.e., physical injury and psychological injury. Physical injury can be raised due to the traffic accident, injury at work, or injury caused by other intentionally. Psychological injuries cause stress. If you are not getting proper treatment or vaccinations in hospital, then this can also be treated as the psychological and physical injury.
“On the other hand, serious personal injuries can result in very high costs. You may need immediate treatment for the injuries, but the treatment can be very expensive,” according to Tsion Chudnovsky, a Spanish speaking personal injury lawyer at Abogados de Accidentes. “U.S. tort laws give you the right to file claims for full compensation and register a case against the wrongdoer.”
For this, you may need to take help of a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will help you to get the rights compensation that you deserve for your injury. The best personal injury attorney will help you in filing a personal injury lawsuit. There are some cases which are resolved in informal ways by settlement negotiations. If the case is a serious one, then that goes to trial. Generally, in the lawsuit, the person who suffers from the personal injury seeks a determination that the defendant has some legal faults and a determination of money which fair compensation for the injuries will be suffered.
What does the victim need to prove in Court?
The victim here must prove that he or she is innocent and the third party causes the injuries. The complainant must prove that the defendant owed a legal duty of care to the person suffers from injuries under the circumstances and also need to prove that the defendant has failed to fulfill legal duty by doing or not doing something that caused the victim to suffer damages and loss. For example, if you have faced a car accident happened due to the negligence of third party or the defendant, then you must have to prove that it was the fault of the defendant. You can file for a settlement or compensation.
Damages which can be considered as the personal injury
When you injured in an accident, you file a lawsuit for compensation. You are entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. The money is awarded for your pain and injuries. This is called as damages. As per the law, the defendant is responsible for paying damages to the plaintiff or the injured person, if the defendant is found guilty.
The common types of damages are compensatory damages which are paid to compensate an individual for loss, injury, or damages incurred from third party’s carelessness. In the field of personal injury, damages are awarded if there was a breach of wrong civil action. The applicant or the injured person get compensation based on the position of the damages.
However, in case of personal injury damages, it is divided into two categories, i.e., special damages and general damages.
Under the general damages, the injured party is compensated for their injuries by monetary aspects. General damages may include:
- Physical pain.
- Emotional suffering.
- Mental or physical impairment.
Here you must prove that these damages occurred as a result of the injury and not pee-existing conditions. After that only you will be entitled to get compensation.
Now, talking about special damages, the victim is compensated for the monetary losses suffered because of an injury caused by the third party. Monetary compensation can be awarded for many numbers of reasons. But some common reasons are:
- Lost earnings.
- Repairing or replacing property.
- Compensating for irreplaceable items.
- Covering extra costs associated with the injury.
In the case of repairing or replacing property and seeking compensation for any irreplaceable items, you must prove that your property was damaged in the accident or wrongful event caused by others. Otherwise, you may not ask for compensation.
Detail information about damages and compensation
Pain and Suffering:
You have the right to get compensation for your physical pain and mental anguish that you have suffered and will endure in the future because of your injury. Such damages also called as non-economical damages.
Medical expenses for treatment:
You have the right to receive compensation for all medical bills incurred in the treatment of injuries. You also can claim for the compensation for future medical treatment expenses.
Damages that lead to loss of earning:
You are also qualified to get monetary compensation for your loss of earning capacity due to injuries. Your earnings like lost wages or salaries, bonus, commissions and fringe benefits all are recoverable, and you can file a claim for this.
Loss of future is earning:
If you have lost your future earning capacity in an accident caused by the third party, you can file a claim to recover the value of your future earning capacity.
Damages lead to wrongful death:
Damages for wrongful death claims are available for your wife, parent, and child. The persons connected by blood or by marriage, who is depended upon the deceased, can ask for rightful recovery.
Its related to marks or scars caused by injury. You can file for compensation associated with deformity.
Injury leads to damage to the marital life:
Sometimes, serious injuries can damage the marital relationship. If such situation arises, you have right to recover for assistance, conjugal, loss of sexual relationship and affection.
Harm to the personal property:
For example, if you faced an auto accident and your vehicle gets damaged, you are entitled to recover the cost. If the vehicle is destroyed, you can ask for replacement cost. Apart from that, you may recover the cost of alternative transportation incurred while your vehicle is being repaired.
Where to file personal injury lawsuits and what are the after that?
Generally, all the personal injury lawsuits come under state court’s jurisdiction of the country, where the damages or injuries have occurred. If the parties in a personal injury case live in other states, then for such cases the personal injury lawsuits can be filed in the federal trial courts.
Here, the lawyer of the victim develops a legal complaint which will contain all the allegation and then register the case with the required court. After that, the lawyer gets a summon from the court where the case is registered. Then the lawyer gives a complaint, summons and a list of damages on the defendant. After that, the defendant will be given 30 days to submit the answer. If the defendant fails, the victim can seek a default judgment against the defendant.
However, if the defendant has submitted the answer, the attorney of both the parties, i.e., the victim and the defendant will start the further legal proceedings. Both the sides will be called for interrogation to know the facts about what happened, who is at fault and what is the measure of the damages. The lawyer of the defendant will be given the copies of the medical treatment bills or damages bill, and the lawyer will determine if the total cost is reasonable. Sometimes, the defendant’s attorney hires experts to evaluate the nature of the injury and the expert will give an opinion the amount is reasonable or not.
The personal injury attorney may hire accident investigator to determine how the events at issue unfolded. Another important factor is the deposition. The lawyers for both sides will interrogate the involved parties and witness. The recorded facts and information are transcribed. That information is transcribed and can be used in for trial.
Information that the attorney will need from you:
- The date of the accident.
- Contact details of any witnesses.
- All the information related with the personal inures that you have and medical diagnosis and what type of treatment you received.
- Whether you have any insurance policies for a legal procedure or not? Such insurance can reduce your legal fees or expenses.
- Some evidence which can prove your earning loss and damages.
- Insurance documents which can cover your losses like health insurance and vehicle insurance.
- Documents related to any previous claiming case.
Personal injury trial period
During the trial period, the judge will analyse the evidence and witness and will decide who is legally responsible for the injuries of the victim. Then, the victim will be given a chance to present the case, and the defendant can try to refute that case. The defendant can submit the proofs related to the case to prove his or her innocence. Sometimes, the situation can arise like the defendant will admit the liability but will not agree with the nature of injuries and necessity of the victim’s treatment. However, after both side’s arguments, the judge will determine who is guilty and will inform the amount of money or compensation a defendant must pay.
How long does a personal lawsuit take?
Well, the duration of the case can vary with the cases. It is not possible to give a perfect answer about how long the lawsuit will take. There are some cases which take at least a year from the date of filing the complaint to get to settle, and some may take around six months. So, it is quite unpredictable. However, a personal injury lawsuit can take 2 to 3 years to get settled.
Factors that play an important role in personal injury verdict
The important factor that can affect in determining the verdict of a personal injury lawsuit case it the jurisdiction. Each jurisdiction follows different laws which are based on:
- The process of fault determination.
- How is the level of harm evaluated?
- What kind of personal injury is the person suffering from?
Some jurisdictions follow unique laws in the determination of evidence that are admissible in the court.
Is it possible to resolve the personal injury case before the verdict?
Yes, there are some cases which can be settled before trial verdict. As per the record, most of the claims related to accidents do not move to trail round as they are resolved through a settlement, outside of the court. Some cases are adjudicated before the filing of the lawsuit. However, to settle a personal injury lawsuit, the victim must give up the right to ask for further claims against the party with whom the victim is settling in exchange of money paid by the party or by the insurance company.
How much compensation is the victim entitled to get?
The value of compensation depends on the damages that you have received from the personal injury. The personal accident attorney can help you to evaluate the value by examining your medical treatment and medical bills. Each personal injury cases is unique. You can’t just follow normal calculation procedure to evaluate the damage. The attorney considers facts and circumstances under which the damages have occurred and then determine the perfect value of your compensation.
To win the case, your attorney needs to develop an adequate and simple method to present your case before the jury. The attorney needs to explain the laws which are related to the case with sufficient evidence. Your injury attorney will try the best to prove that the defendants should be held liable and will offer compensation to the victim for the damages that the defendant has caused. Well, it may sound very simple but, the process is very complex and can be very lengthy.
Some attorney uses video and audio aids to assist the case at trial. It can strengthen the case. Nowadays, most of the judges prefer to go with audio and visual aids. Photos of the accident and videos of events help the judges to understand the issues. Don’t start the case with boring practices or monotonous questionnaires. Such method will not help you to prove your case.
The most important thing that your injury attorney should do above all is to give you a fair assessment of your situation. If the attorney doesn’t think that the case is strong enough to go to court, the attorney will inform you that. If your case is solid and you have the proper evidence, the lawyer will, and the case can be settled in few months.
What are the civil consequences if you are injured in a motor vehicle collision and you failed to wear a seat belt? Seat belts have been hailed as the most significant automotive safety device since the automobile’s advent. However, with the fully electric car manufacturer, Tesla, having implemented in its cars partial Autopilot as of November 2015 – which statistically is four times safer than a human driver – this claim may not hold true much longer. Nevertheless, statistics show front seat passenger car occupants who wear a seatbelt reduce their risk of fatal injury by 45%.
Because the seat belt is so effective in reducing injuries it is considered in many jurisdictions contributory negligence on the part of the injured victim for failure to wear a seat belt. Despite this the seat belt defense was not always accepted in Canada and indeed, even today the seatbelt defense is very controversial in the United States as most of states do not recognize it.
In the United States, thirty (30) states currently do not have a seat belt defence in place. Those states include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. What is even more interesting about this list is that twenty-six (26) of these states not only don’t have statutes which allow for a portion of negligence to the plaintiff for failure to wear a seat belt, but twenty-six (26) states have laws prohibiting evidence one way or the other whether or not the plaintiff wore his or her seat belt. Obviously, it is then prohibited from even arguing the plaintiff was contributory negligence since the defense insurance company would not even be able to submit evidence of use or non-use of the seat belt. The fact that these states went to this extent shows that there is a great deal of controversy on this type of argument.
There are fifteen (15) states that do in fact have statutes in place which may result in a reduction of the plaintiff’s damages for failure to wear a seat belt. These states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Note not all fifteen (15) states have actual active legislation allowing seat belt defense arguments, as some states have developed it by “common law” or, in other words, through judicial decision making which has allowed the defense – and the state has not seen fit to intervene subsequently to prohibit such arguments.
Oddly, as of 2018 Hawaii and North Dakota do not have statutes dealing with the seat belt defense nor have the courts specifically allowed the seat belt defense. As well, Indiana, Mississippi and Nevada also do not have statutes or case law specifically prohibiting a reduction in damages as a result of a plaintiff failing to wear a seat belt. So, it is still an open question in these states.
It should be noted that where the seat belt defense is allowed some of the states severely limit the amount of contributory negligence which may be placed on the plaintiff. For example, Missouri will only allow 1% attributed to the plaintiff for failure to wear a seat belt! Iowa. Michigan and Oregon will only allow up to 5% and Wisconsin the limit is 15%.
In contrast in Canada, the seat belt defense has been widely adopted across the country and failure to wear a seat belt has resulted in reductions in the award to innocent victims of 10% to 30%.
Nevertheless, the seat belt defense is not easy for the auto insurance company’s personal injury lawyer to prove. The burden of proof is on the auto insurance company’s personal injury lawyer to show, that on a balance of probabilities:
- The plaintiff failed to wear his/her seat belt;
- A seat belt was available and functional;
- Seat belt usage would have reduced or eliminated the plaintiff’s injuries.
Establishing number 1 is quite easy today as the majority of vehicles have seat belt sensors which capture the status of seat belts at the time of collision. This data may then be downloaded and interpreted from the “Event Data Recorder” (like the black box on and airplane) by a car accident-reconstructionist.
It becomes more complicated in establishing if the seat belt was functional – number 2 above. For example, in the very large Ford Expedition vehicle, for several model years, the third-row seat has seat belts with shoulder harnesses, which have been proven in several cases would not hold a young child in place which resulted in the child being ejected in a rollover. Fortunately, however, this is a rare situation and seat belts are typically available and functional.
The usual argument in many cases to defeat a reduction for failure to wear a seatbelt is that in a severe collision the seat belt would not have reduced or eliminated the plaintiff’s injuries (point number 3 above). To prove that the seat belt would have made a difference, the defendant auto insurance company must hire not only an accident-reconstructionist but also a bio-mechanical engineer. A bio-mechanical engineer is an expert regarding the impact of the collision, in the medical sense, the
forces would have upon a human body. If it is shown that the injured victim would have sustained similar injuries or different injuries but of similar or greater severity, a seat belt defense will not be successful.
This is an important issue as if the defendant auto insurance company is successful in arguing contributory negligence the “innocent” victim’s award can be reduced up to 30%. As this short survey indicates the “seat belt defense” or attributing negligence to the plaintiff who is otherwise completely innocent for an accident, but reducing damages for failing to wear a seat belt is a highly controversial issue among state lawmakers and judicial decision makers, not to mention plaintiffs, lawyers and insurance defense lawyers. Since the laws are so variable state to state and country to country one way to always defeat the seat belt defense argument is to always wear your seat belt regardless of where you are traveling.
Written by: Brent Handel, J.D., Q.C from Handel Law Firm
For more information surrounding civil consequences and other important legal articles be sure to follow our blog.
Have you recently been injured in a car accident? If you have, you may be wondering whether or not you should hire a personal injury lawyer. After all, he could help you file your claim against the insurance agency.
To find out what you should do, take a look below.
We’ll provide a clear guide to when you need to work with a personal injury lawyer versus when it may not be necessary. With this information, you can make the best decision for your current situation.
When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you want to, you can file your personal injury claim against the insurance agency completely on your own.
To do that, though, you need to have time available to research the claims process. Submitting a claim is easier when you only sustain a mild injury.
If you have time on your hands and haven’t sustained any serious injuries, you may be better off just to file the claim yourself.
Since you only have mild injuries, your case isn’t going to be too complex, so you won’t have as much need for an attorney for personal injury. Plus, you won’t have to worry about figuring out how to find them.
What’s more? Attorneys don’t work for free. If you want to save money and not have to pay legal fees, it’s best to represent yourself.
The severity of injuries is often determined by the following factors:
- The type of injury (or injuries)
- The cost of your medical bills
- How long it will take to recover
Severe injuries typically fall into two categories. They are either long-term injuries that may take a year or more to fully recover from, or permanent – meaning you will be disabled for the restof your life.
If you’re in a car accident and sustain a serious injury (or multiple injuries), you’ll want to have a personal injury lawyer represent you. They will have access to more resources than you do and can help you win your case.
If you’re located in Phoenix, Arizona, for example, and have recently been seriously injured, Zanes Law will work with you. It’s no need to worry about the bill until they’re successful in recovering your financial compensation. This is an example of a firm that operates on a contingency fee.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Represent You Today
In the event that you have sustained a long-term or permanent injury as a result of a car accident, hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you.
With our easy to use “Search for a Lawyer” function, you can find the right lawyer for you faster than you can say “We won!”
Don’t wait. Resolve your case today!
Did you now that there are over 6 million car accidents in the United States each year? Not only that, 1 in 3 of these accidents involve injury to the driver or passengers, and 2 out of 10 involves fatalities.
Given these shocking figures, it’s surprising to learn that not everyone knows what to do after a minor car accident. But there are things you can do to help protect yourself and your interests.
Let’s take a look at a few.
Wondering What to Do After a Minor Car Accident? Here’s a Checklist
Even if nobody is hurt, the next steps you take are important. Here’s a post-accident checklist to help.
The first thing to remember when you are involved in a wreck is to never leave the scene of an accident. Even if it appears minor and no one seems to be hurt, leave everything as is until the police arrive.
Protect the Scene of the Accident
You need to protect the scene as best you can until the police arrive so that they can get an understanding of what happened for the police report, as well as accurately note who was at fault for traffic citations and for insurance purposes.
Keep your flashers and lights on. Then wait in your car, or stand by the side of the road. If it’s dark out, keep a flashlight with you if possible and set out road flares.
Call the Police
You should always call the police immediately, even if it looks like there might be no serious injuries. Police officers will need to fill out an accident report, and this report will then be used when filing your insurance claim.
Remember, it’s very important to never move any vehicles involved in the accident until the police have arrived.
Make Note of Exactly What Happened
Once the police have arrived on the scene, you will need to provide a statement of exactly what happened. It’s important to be as detailed as possible, but don’t speculate.
Pay close attention to any pain or injuries you might have, and be aware that many injuries might not become apparent until hours or even days following the collision.
While you’re at the scene, pay attention to what the other person is telling the police to be sure their description of events is accurate.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
Use a camera or your phone to take photos of the scene. Photographic evidence could be very important if there should be any legal repercussions or any issues with insurance claims.
Also, take photos of any injuries as soon as possible immediately following the accident.
Exchange Info with the Other Driver
Make sure everyone exchanges contact info at the scene.
Part of police procedure is to make sure the parties involved have each other’s information, but they do not always respond to an accident call. If this is the case, make sure to get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all persons involved.
Call Your Insurance Company
Try to contact your insurance company at the scene of the accident and let me know if the other party failed to yield. Ask them exactly what your policy covers, including any medical benefits. They will be able to provide detailed advice on what to do after a minor car accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Another part of knowing what to do after a minor car accident is to seek proper medical attention.
Whenever you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, it can be scary, and with the excitement comes a rush of adrenaline that might temporarily delay the pain reaction to many injuries.
Days could pass before you realize you’ve been injured at all. Pay close attention to any stiffness or soreness, and keep detailed notes of whatever discomfort you might be experiencing.
It’s not uncommon for serious injuries to not be immediately noticed. People frequently sustain serious and even permanent injuries as a result of seemingly minor accidents. If you begin noticing pain, go to the emergency room immediately, or visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Keep Good Records
It’s a great idea to keep a file with all documentation related to the accident. Insurance paperwork, a copy of the police report, photos of the accident, as well as any documents regarding medical treatment you’ve received.
Keep a record of names and phone numbers, including the claims adjuster handling the case, the contact info of the other person involved, as well as rental car receipts and other expenses you’ve accumulated.
Protect Your Legal Rights
One of the most important things to do immediately following the accident is to get in touch with a good auto accident attorney. Motor vehicle accidents can have many complications, involving numerous people and insurance companies.
A skilled attorney will know how to protect your rights, and keep you from getting bullied by any of the parties involved. There are many factors to take into account, and they will know how to make sure you are fully compensated.
Remember, most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so they won’t be paid until you’ve been fully compensated for your injuries and for damage to your property.
Things to do Before an Accident
We recommend packing a safety kit, with a flashlight, road flares, water, jumper cables and blankets. You never know what kind of weather conditions you’ll find yourself in at the time of an accident.
Be sure to have your phone charged when you leave the house, this way you won’t be low on battery when an emergency arises. And make certain you have all proper documentation such as insurance cards, health plan, and vehicle registration at the ready in the glove box.
The more you are prepared for what to do after a minor car accident, the less stressful the experience will be.
The reality of life is that accidents happen, but by paying attention, and keeping track of important details, you’ll be better prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Click here to for tips on how to deal with a personal injury lawyer.
Car accidents can happen to anyone, even the most careful of drivers. If you ever find yourself involved in a vehicle accident, you want to be prepared. In the moments following a collision, you may be scared, stressed, or confused. Knowing what to expect can help ensure that you acquire the information and documentation you need to make a claim later on. This is especially important if anyone in the vehicle suffers a personal injury or if your car has received extensive damage. Here’s what you can expect after a car accident and what you should do to protect your interests and legal rights.
Assess the Scene
First things first – never leave the scene of an accident you were involved in. Stick around until you can talk to the police, even in the event of a minor collision. If the car accident was minor, move your vehicle out of traffic to avoid a second collision from occurring. Shift your vehicle into park, turn the car off, and turn your hazard lights on. If you have them, use warning triangles, cones, or flares to warn other drivers. Call the police immediately to get a written document of what occurred during the car accident.
Once you’ve established that you are in a safe area, check yourself and others in the vehicle for injuries. If anyone is injured or you believe someone may have a hidden injury, call an ambulance. Next, you’ll want to make an accurate record of the accident. When the police arrive to the scene, tell them exactly what had happened using only facts, not assumptions. If you have a cell phone or camera with you, take photographs of the accident scene, including the vehicles involved, any damage to the vehicle or surrounding structures, and any injuries that may have occurred from the car accident.
While you typically only need to share your name and insurance information with the other driver involved, it’s best to collect as much information as possible to be safe. If possible, ask to see the other driver’s license to confirm his or her identity. You may also want to obtain other critical information, such as the names of all passengers in the other vehicle, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, vehicle description, and the names and contact information of eye witnesses to the car accident. Also write down the address or location of the accident scene, as well as the names and badge numbers of the officers.
Report the Accident
Following a car accident, you want to notify your insurance company as soon as possible, even if the accident was not your fault. Many car insurance policies actually require you to report any type of accident immediately. If you were injured during the accident, you may want to acquire information about any medical benefits you may have as part of your insurance coverage. This type of coverage is known as “medpay” and may be included in your car insurance policy and should be used if you have it. If you do have medpay, you will likely have to submit any medical bills stemming from the accident directly to your insurance company.
If you still have (medical bills) leftover after your medpay benefits are exhausted, your primary health insurance should then cover the remaining costs. If you are found to be at fault for the accident, you may be responsible for the other driver’s medical bills. This amount should be covered up to the limits set in your bodily injury liability coverage. If the other driver is found responsible for the accident, he or she will likely be required to pay for your medical bills. However, you will likely need the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer to attain the proper compensation for your injuries.
Filing a Claim
If you are found responsible for the car accident, you may be weighing your options. It may seem tempting to simply offer to pay for the other driver’s vehicle repairs out of pocket. However, this can be more costly than you think. Even repairs that look minor could end up costing you thousands of dollars. If you do leave your insurance company to pay for the bill, you could wind up with a premium increase that can last upwards of three years. If you have “accident forgiveness,” your premiums may not increase.
If the other driver was responsible for the accident, you’ll want to ensure that you are getting the compensation you deserve based on the extent of the damage. The other driver’s insurance company may offer a settlement. Many times, the settlement offer is unsatisfactory and may not cover the total cost to repair your car or pay for your medical bills. Before signing any documents, you’ll want to consult with an attorney.
Hire an Attorney
If anyone was injured in the car accident or you feel that you are being untreated fairly regarding your settlement, it is best to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. A skilled lawyer with experience dealing with car accident cases can help maximize your recovery and defend your legal rights in the event that the accident was your fault. While many insurance companies want to take statements immediately after a car accident, it’s best to first talk with an attorney to ensure that you do not say anything that could be found incriminating.
Know that when you work with a car accident lawyer they have your best interests at heart. They also work on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no legal fees for you unless your lawyer recovers compensation if you receive a settlement or are awarded damages. This can provide peace of mind as you try to navigate through the complex legal system. Having a legal expert on your side can also ensure that you take the right steps towards a beneficial resolution.
In the U.S., around 3 million people suffer injuries as a result of a car accident every year. While some of these injuries are minor, others cause permanent disability.
If you’re hurt in an auto accident, it’s important you protect yourself. You have rights, but you may need to hire a car accident lawyer to get the compensation you deserve.
Simple fender benders may not need the involvement of attorneys or the police. But other accidents, even if they seem minor, could result in financial loss.
If you aren’t sure whether you should hire an attorney after an accident, keep reading. We’re going over some signs that indicate a need for legal representation.
The Other Driver Was at Fault
If the other driver caused the accident that resulted in your injury, you deserve compensation. However, getting this compensation is easier said than done.
The other driver may dispute their fault. This means you need an experienced car accident lawyer to evaluate the case.
It’s important to understand that even if the witnesses along with the police report indicate the other party was at fault, you may still need to prove negligence. Negligence means that the other driver neglected their responsibility to drive safely.
Proving negligence is a huge determining factor in a personal injury case. An experienced attorney has an intimate knowledge of your state’s personal injury laws. They can investigate your accident to uncover whether the other driver was, in fact, acting irresponsibly.
You Have Long-Term Injuries
Long-term injuries can last for up to a year or more. Permanent injuries cause some type of disability for the rest of a person’s life. These have a devastating impact on your ability to work and live comfortably.
It’s often difficult to prove the extent of your injuries and that they resulted from the accident.
This is where a car accident lawyer is invaluable.
They can evaluate your medical situation, speak with your doctors, and build a solid case against the other party. They’ll also take the pain and suffering of you and your family into consideration when determining what damages to fight for.
Doing this alone, while also dealing with an injury, may end in a settlement far below what you’re entitled to.
You’re Dealing with an Insurance Company
If the other driver is at fault, their insurance will pay out for your injuries during a claim. However, this could quickly turn messy.
An insurance company’s goal is to keep their costs down. They often try to lowball victims of accidents.
They sometimes resort to intimidation tactics to get you to agree to a lower amount.
Furthermore, the insurance company may deny the claim altogether.
This is why you need a car accident lawyer on your side. They have experience dealing with insurance companies and can help protect you from being taken advantage of. Make sure you find a firm like Bill Connor Law, who handles personal injury and insurance litigation.
In addition, when an insurance company sees you have an attorney, there’s a better chance they’ll settle out of court for a fair price. Having an advocate in your corner who knows the law greatly increases your chances of getting the damages you deserve.
The Uninsured Driver
Most drivers on the road carry auto insurance. However, if you’ve sustained injuries in an accident with an uninsured driver, it’s critical you hire a car accident lawyer immediately.
Your own insurance policy probably includes uninsured driver coverage. This protects you financially if you have an accident with an uninsured motorist. Unfortunately, this coverage may not be enough to cover medical bills along with damage to your car.
Without an attorney, you run the risk of having to pay out of pocket for medical pr
oblems that were someone else’s fault.
An attorney can determine what options you have for obtaining compensation. You may need to do a personal property securities register rev’s check and file a civil suit against the uninsured party for damages. In this case, a good lawyer is essential.
You Have No Experience with Personal Injury Claims
Some people can successfully file their own personal injury claims after an accident. These individuals likely have experience with the process.
If you’re not one of these people, you need an attorney. The procedures involved in filing a claim are very detailed. There’s a lot of paperwork and court deadlines you must adhere to.
Furthermore, personal injury laws have a statute of limitations that vary from state to state.
Trying to navigate the legal process yourself could result in missing out on thousands of dollars.
A car accident lawyer knows how to look at the details of a case and determine what amount to fight for. There are personal injury settlement calculators online, but these don’t provide an accurate estimate.
When you hire an attorney, they take care of all the necessary paperwork and guide you through the legal process. In Austin car accident lawyers can be very helpful to get the right compensation.
You’re Dealing with Lost Wages
A serious injury could result in time away from work and lost wages. In some cases, a person’s injuries are so severe they either lose their job or have to quit.
If you’re dealing with lost wages after an accident, you’re in a vulnerable position. You need an attorney to help you get the compensation you deserve.
A personal injury lawyer takes your lost wages into account when determining the value of your case. If your future income is at stake because of injuries, they can fight to get you compensation for this.
It’s important to remember that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t have to pay attorney fees until they settle your case.
Find a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’re injured in an auto accident and any of these situations apply to you, you need to get legal representation. Deciding to handle the case on your own could result in unfair compensation for your injuries.
If you need to find quality legal representation, search our directory for an attorney in your area.
A positive attorney-client relationship is essential for a productive personal injury case. There should be mutual trust and respect for each other’s time. However, sometimes the relationship between a lawyer and their client goes sour due to unavoidable reasons.
What action can you take if you have lost confidence in your attorney? Could you hire another personal injury lawyer after signing a retainer with the first one? Will it have any financial consequences? Continue reading this post to find answers to these questions and others if you’re considering firing your personal injury attorney.
About Firing a Personal Injury Lawyer
You have the right to fire your personal injury lawyer if you think that he or she is not acting in your best interest, or not performing their duties to your expectations. You can also fire a personal injury lawyer for any reason. It may be that you think that the attorney doesn’t respond to your queries or if you believe that he or she has acted unprofessionally such as wasting time in the meeting, not being prepared for a court hearing, or mishandling documents or funds.
Whatever the reason for firing your lawyer, make sure that you do so in writing. Send a letter, email, or fax explaining why you do not wish the legal professional to work on your case anymore. Request the attorney to stop working on your case and tell them where they should send your documents. Also, it’s important that you retain a copy of any document that you send to the attorney.
When firing a lawyer, you should act courteously. Avoid making any threats or complaint. This will help smooth the transition process. After writing the termination letter, there is no need to call the lawyer. All further correspondence should take place with your new personal injury attorney.
Will It Cost More Money When Terminating a Relationship with an Attorney?
Keep in mind that the fired personal injury attorney is entitled to a fee for service rendered. However, you won’t have to pay for the services from your pocket. After the personal injury case is resolved, the attorney fee will be divided based on ‘quantum meruit‘ — a reasonable value of the work done by each attorney.
A major chunk of the fees will go to an attorney who performs most of the work. In case both the attorneys performed equal work, the fee will be divided equally. How the fee is divided up is not your concern or responsibility. The case will be resolved by the two attorneys.
Additionally, the original attorney is entitled to place a lien against your case settlement if he/she doesn’t believe that the new attorney will voluntarily pay the fee he/she is entitled to. This is perfectly legal and normal practice.
Can the Attorney I Fired Contact Me?
Once you have given written notice that you are changing attorneys, in many states it’s actually illegal for the prior lawyer lawyer to contact you to discuss. In California, they can’t even contact you to ask why you fired them. So there will never be an uncomfortable ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ conversation.
If you find yourself in need of a new personal injury attorney, use the Personal Injury Guru lawyer directory to find the best attorney for your specific case. Finding an choosing a new injury lawyer is a stressful process, but this particular directory makes it easy to find a “Verified Guru” who has the experience to take on common or complex injury cases.
Every year on American roadways, millions of collisions occur that result in fatalities and severe injuries. In 2016, more than 37,461 people did not make it home to their loved ones. For the families who experience a tragic event like the loss of life or limb, the unforeseen consequences are life-altering.
Sadly, many accidents are preventable, and the sentiment is even more so for a truck accident attorney. These attorneys specialize in getting you the most money when it comes to dealing with a truck accident.
Context – The Shocking Numbers
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4,079 large truck and bus crashes resulted in the loss of 4,564 lives. Sadly, most of these lives were preventable had the drivers not been negligent.
Annual data collected by the FMCSA shows that the commercial truck industry is problematic.
- 61% of accidents took place on rural roadways
- 27% occurred in work zones
- 17% of the drivers were speeding when a fatality occurred
- 6% were distracted drivers in which 16% were using a cell phone
A truck accident attorney becomes a crucial element for families who find themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with crafty insurance companies and their top-notch attorneys.
When people are dealing with the health of an injured person, the last thing they focus on is mounting bills or loss of income which is what insurance adjusters depend on to get you to settle.
Many families find themselves overwhelmed by years of recovery and out-of-pocket expenses because the companies who were liable refused to pay families for their losses fairly. For that reason, it is crucial to understand how to get the most compensation from a trucking accident.
Factors that Affect Compensation Amounts
- Type of injuries sustained
- Treatment received
- Future medical requirements
- Economic consequences of trucking accident like loss of work or out-of-pocket expenses and medical bills
- Physical and mental suffering
Liability is complicated when an accident involves a commercial vehicle because the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires companies to obtain and maintain high-risk insurance policies. Commercial policies differ from regular vehicle coverage because occupants can sue the transportation company, the broker, the driver, and the shipper who initiated services.
Compensation for injuries sustained in a trucking accident can be higher depending on who has the most significant responsibility for the semi-truck and the cargo.
In addition to financial responsibility, there are also regulations that drivers must follow that can add to corporate negligence. Companies can be liable if they allow drivers to operate trucks while fatigued, fail to do maintenance checks, or permit operation of unsafe vehicles. Once legal negligence establishes, truck accident attorneys then look for additional evidence to build a case for higher claims.
The FMCSA requires both the driver and the company to follow strict guidelines when operating a semi-truck and trailer.
- Must maintain a daily log that adheres to Hours of Service operations.
- Required to have on hand the last seven days of driving records at all time.
- Must legally perform a daily vehicle inspection report (DVIR) at the end of the workday.
- Must maintain a record of driver and training credentials.
- Has only 24-hours to submit roadside inspections to their carriers.
Commercial Carrier Responsibilities:
- Must enforce a 60/70 driving rule and prove that the driver has a minimum of ten hours off before starting any new hauling trip.
- Must retain long-haul records for six months and short-haul for seven days.
- Maintain maintenance records up to 12 months that identifies the vehicle, inspections, and any repair records.
- Required to retain inspection reports for 14 months. A copy must be in the truck while in operation.
- Required to submit evidence of repairs to the state and keep a copy for 12 months.
Top Reasons for Driver Liability
- Erratic driving patterns
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle.
- Lack of visibility of pedestrians, motorcyclists, and cyclists makes this group of roadway users susceptible to higher death rates.
Why You Need to Hire an Truck Accident Attorney Quickly
Time is critical when suing for financial recovery after an injury because of the regulations for filing a claim for compensation. Moreover, accident investigators can better establish fault soon after a traffic collision occurs. There are also strict rules for record-keeping.
Truck accident attorneys know what needs to be done to gain information from the semi’s computer system that documents speed and driving conditions. Many of the trucks also have video surveillance which attorneys can request as evidence. If a person does not know what to do, the chances are that you will lose valuable information as the time passes.
As the driver of the truck already has legal representation, you need to equally be prepared to protect yourself from legal maneuvering that is meant to protect their interests instead of yours.
Benefits of Hiring a Truck Accident Attorney Include:
- The ability to recruit accident reconstruction professionals to prove negligence occurred.
- Has the financial capabilities to hire medical experts to establish liability.
- Knowledge of how to document accident through images, video, or witness accounts
- Understands how to examine records to find mistakes or omissions.
- Utilizes time to interview police officers, first responders, and medical staff to gauge negligence and extent of injuries.
- Understands the legal requirements to represent a client in court proceedings.
Regardless of whether the driver is distracted, impaired, or careless, an experienced truck accident attorney uses the gathered datasets to form a legal strategy to force companies to accept legal responsibility. With the discovery of negligence, semi-truck operators will also be forced to adhere to safety regulations which reduce the risk to other drivers.
At the end of the day what it boils down to is that you will be facing a corporate army. You will need someone just as skilled as their attorneys on your team to make sure you are not browbeat into a bad settlement. Hiring a truck accident attorney is the best decision you can make to protect yourself.