Car accidents are an inevitable part of life in modern day America, affecting on average about 17,000 people in the United States every day. These accidents can obviously range from moderate to severe, but it is undeniable that all too often, the long term effects of an accident are not always immediately clear. If you have been the victim of a car accident and are suffering from unforeseen injuries, then securing the services of a personal injury attorney is the best way to make certain that your rights are protected. No matter what your injury is, a knowledgeable lawyer that has experience with personal injury cases will be able to better your chances of securing the funds you need to move on with your life.
Personal injury attorneys often spend their time helping people who have been injured and suffered as the victims of various kinds of car accidents. If you have been the victim of an accident, contacting a reputable attorney is often the first step in taking back your life. Together, you and your lawyer can help to determine exactly what caused your accident and who is legally responsible for the pain and inconvenience you are now experiencing. Your attorney will need to gather evidence and support for the idea that someone else was at fault for your accident. The opposing party, whether it be an individual or an insurance company, is going to do everything they can to minimize the strength and amount of your claim. Ultimately, the strength and success of your claim is more or less dependent on your lawyer’s ability to put together the facts in a way that favors you. If a reasonable settlement cannot be obtained, then the case may have to proceed to trial, where you are even more tied to the abilities of your lawyer.
Do I have a case and how much is it worth?
Perhaps the trickiest part of being in a car accident is deciding how to handle the aftermath. If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in an automotive accident through the negligent actions of another party, then you may want to consider the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit. However, the first step in this process is being able to tell whether or not you have a viable case. This requires a thorough knowledge of the law, the exact circumstances of your accident, and the qualifications for various types of personal injury lawsuits. Some of the most basic kinds of personal injury lawsuits are based on these three ideas:
- Negligence: The vast majority of car accident claims are based on the idea of negligence. This charge centers on the idea that drivers are held to a certain standard of care when operating vehicles on the road. If they fail to meet that standard and an accident occurs, then they could be liable for any damages that occur as a direct result of their failure. In order to win your case, it will have to be proven that the other party failed to obey traffic laws or acted carelessly in some way that impacted their driving. This lack of attention then must be shone to have directly caused the accident that inflicted your injuries. Potential defendants are likely to be careless drivers, intoxicated drivers, or even reckless drivers on the road. There are a few special cases that are generally considered “no-doubt” liability issues, like being rear ended or getting involved in a left turn lane incident. However, even these generally considered to be certain cases can have exceptions, which is why it is important to have a thorough knowledge of the laws surrounding personal injury lawsuits.
- Manufacturer Liability: Sometimes, a defect in your vehicle or a part that is important to its operation plays a part in your accident. If this happens, you may be eligible for a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or the part. If there is faulty design, manufacturing, or labeling inside the car, then the manufacturer may be liable regardless of any specific form of negligence. In this type of case, the plaintiff’s team must prove that the defect in question occurred during the manufacturing of the car itself and contributed to the injury in question. You must establish that the defective car or part was unreasonably dangerous, and that while you were operating everything as it had been intended, the part failed anyway. You must also prove that the part had never previously failed in any way, and that it was its sudden fault that caused your injury.
- Road Design: Many car accidents are caused by the flawed design, construction, or maintenance of our road system. If any part of the design of a road itself contributed to your accident, whether it be worn embankments, improper signage, or faulty barriers, guard rails, or medians, then you may have enough to press a case against the city, county, or state to is in charge of maintaining the roadway where your accident occurred. After all, the fact is that any of these road design issues could easily contribute to a serious car accident, and proving liability is likely to be a significantly large task.
If the circumstances of your accident fall under one or more of these categories, then it may be worth your time to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can examine the details of your accident and let you know what your best legal options could be. Please be aware that if a law firm ever cites you a specific amount for damages, you should be extremely cautious about dealing with them. Personal injury award truly vary dramatically from case to case, dependent on a large number of issues that are not easy to compile at a glance. By blithely taking their word for it, you may be either settling for an amount that is less than you deserve or be building unrealistic expectations. Instead, place your trust in a reputable attorney that will investigate your case thoroughly and give you a better idea of where your case stands and what to expect if you decide to move forward. If they think that you have a strong case and are willing to help you pursue it, then there is every likelihood that you may be able to receive one or more different types of compensation.
There are particular types of remuneration that can be received if the circumstances allow and your case is prosecuted correctly. These include:
- Current and Future Medical Concerns: Any medical expenses accrued as a result of the accident in which you were involved are a common thing to seek damages for, as medical bills can add up quickly and add to the burden you are facing.
- Lost Earnings: If your injuries are significant enough that they prevent you from perform essential job duties and are thus causing you to lose your normal wages, then you may be eligible for this kind of compensation.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: If your injuries will likely prevent you from collecting a regular salary or wages in the future, then this kind of compensation can assure that you do not fall into poverty.
- Pain and Suffering: This deals with and attempts to quantify the physical pain experienced by the victim of an accident.
- Mental Anguish: Suing for mental anguish will give you the acknowledgement of and compensation for any emotional disturbance sustained as the result of your accident like embarrassment, stress, excessive anxiety and fear.
- Loss of Consortium: In a successful lawsuit, the spouse of an injured party can often receive compensation for the loss of marital closeness and intimacy.
- Wrongful Death: If a family member or loved one has died in an accident with another automobile, then it is possible under certain circumstances for their survivors to receive damages.
- Punitive Damages: If the defendant’s actions were purposely undertaken, punitive damages can be assessed in your favor as a deterrent against future similar behaviors.
Each of these types of damages is quantified in varying ways, but generally, there are a few regular rules that are followed. For example, there is usually a direct link between the severity of your injuries and the amount of damages that you will be paid. Typically, insurance adjusters use the types of injuries you sustained as a starting point when figuring out the exact amount of damages you may be entitled to. If an injury is serious, outrageously painful, or even life-threatening, then the base amount that they began at is obviously going to be higher than a standard broken bone or wrenched back. While it may seem like a fairly arbitrary practice to denote specific levels of pain with specific injuries, it is at least a place to start when trying to settle a personal injury claim.
Injuries are usually divided into two different types: soft tissue injuries and hard injuries. Soft tissue injuries, like wrenched muscles in back or neck, only involved the muscle and ligaments of the body. Medically speaking, these injuries are not considered to be permanent in nature, and while they may be painful, they should eventually resolve given enough time and proper treatment. Additionally, insurance companies realize that people will have a hard time proving that their pain and suffering is significantly troublesome. In contrast to this, hard injuries are medically observable and can often require repair and long term treatment. Examples of hard injuries include broken bones, lost limbs, paralysis, and other significant physical trauma. These kinds of injuries usually settle for higher costs because they are easier to quantify and harder to refute.
However, it is also important to note that while you may have a strong claim to receive damages, pressing charges against a third party also opens yourself up to legal action. In some cases, an injured person’s role in causing the accident that hurt them or their inaction after being injured at all can have a significant impact on the amount of damages you may receive. For example, many states adhere to a comparative negligence rule, which decreases the amount of settlement you are rewarded by specific amounts if you are found through investigation to be even partially responsible for the events that led to the accident in question. Other states take this one step further and operate under a rule of contributory negligence, where you are not entitled to any damages if you are found to play a role in the accident. You may also decrease your award by suffering a failure to mitigate the damages for which you are suing. This means that if you are injured in a wreck, but choose to never go to the doctor despite the clear physical need to do so, then your case may be significantly weakened or even thrown out completely.
What is the Best Way to Protect My Interests?
From the moment you are involved in a car accident that causes any kind of significant injury, there are a series of practical steps that you can take to make sure that your rights are as protected as possible in the coming months of recovery and action. Even minor fender benders will likely mean filing a claim for damages with an insurance company. By following these steps, you can ensure that you are doing everything in your power to maximize your chance of gaining some kind of financial restitution for your experience.
First, at the scene of the accident itself, make sure that if you are able, you check on the safety and well-being of any passengers in your car as well as anyone else involved in the accident. If anyone appears to be injured, make sure they receive prompt and competent medical attention, preferably from paramedics or a similar medical professional. This is an important step for medical reasons as well as legal ones, beginning to establish a clear record of damages that can be filed for claims.
Make sure that someone alerts the local police and sends an officer to examine the scene. Even if the accident is minor, the officer will file a report that will be created at the time and scene of the accident, which can be essential in establishing fault. He will also obtain the names, addresses, and insurance information of all parties involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses who may be able to testify as to the nature and order of events. If the officer does not take photos, then make sure that you do, in order to strengthen your case later.
If you need medical care, seek it promptly and make certain to clearly document the visit as well as any medical treatment they prescribe. Make certain that you follow the advice to the letter, and if your symptoms do no resolve in a timely fashion, do not be afraid to seek a second opinion. If your injuries are serious, then establishing a clear line between them, how they impact your day to day life, and the accident will be key in building the strength of your claim.
As soon as you are able, make sure to contact your insurance company and let them know that an accident has occurred. They will assign your case a number and an adjuster in order to deal with every aspect of your case. You will be asked to give a thorough statement, and they may be able to provide you with a rental car if it is necessary. If there is another driver involved in the collision, you also need to make certain that they are aware of the accident. Always exercise caution when dealing with insurance companies, as they are looking out for their bottom line rather than your best interests.
If your injuries are serious, your medical bills are mounting and you believe yourself to be the victim of another party’s negligence, then consider contacting a reputable personal injury attorney. They can help alleviate the burden of gathering and providing the needed documentation in order to file a successful claim. When you are involved in a serious car accident, you or your loved ones may be seriously hurt and in need of long term medical care. By following these steps, you are taking the first wise precautions in protecting your own interests. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney could be another useful tool in making sure that someone is fighting on your side.
Auto Accidents and Insurance Companies
Benjamin Franklin once famous commented on the inevitability of taxes. He probably should have added in a little footnote about insurance companies as well. They fill a useful, even vital function, in our society; at one point or another, we all benefit from their services, particularly after a car wreck. That said, there are few institutions with which the average person is more reluctant to deal than the insurance companies, and that's even assuming that the one you're forced to work with is on your side. Insurance companies have their own dialect of “legalspeak,” and they comprise an industry which is so utterly complicated as to have multiple types of attorneys specializing in its varied nuances.
Should you find yourself involved in an auto accident and having to deal with the insurance companies, you would be well advised to seek out the services of a personal injury lawyer. You should definitely consult with a lawyer before making any concessions to the insurance company.
Read on for a few more useful tips about how to deal with the insurance companies in the event of a car accident and understanding how insurance works in auto accident cases.
Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts
Make sure that you understand your insurance policy, including the full extent of your coverage, thoroughly. Ideally, you want to have a solid grasp on your policy before talking to anybody – including your insurer and your personal insurance agent. With that mentioned, once you have that understanding in hand, you need to call your insurance agent as soon as possible.
It is absolutely vital to understand that, in the event of a car accident, you must never accept blame. Do not concede that you are, might be, or believe yourself to be at fault to anyone, whatever you might think, and whether or not said individual to whom you are speaking was personally involved in the accident. Don't even mention it to your own passenger or discuss it on the phone. Don't say it to curious onlookers. Anyone you say this to could later be called upon to testify to your words in court, whereupon they would have to respond honestly – or risk a perjury charge. You should never concede being at fault for the accident for any reason. The subject may only be safely raised in private consultation with an auto accident attorney (or other legal professional) whose services you have retained.
You should be candid, honest, and forthright with your insurer – however embarrassing it may be. That being said, you must avoid any actual utterance which specifically accepts blame for the accident in which you were involved. Also, while pursuing your claim for damages, keep fastidious records (including receipts) for any expenses such as meals and lodgings which could be held as connected to your case. Do this until the final settlement is reached.
Full Tort Insurance vs. Limited Tort Insurance
The simple difference between full tort and limited tort insurance is that limited tort saves you a few dollars a month on your premiums. This might sound appealing, but there is a down side: you forfeit the right to sue for pain and suffering in the event of an auto wreck. While the laws do vary from state to state, the difference between the two forms of coverage is simple and ironclad. Some states simply apply additional conditions to whether or not a driver may choose one or the other under certain circumstances. Consult with an accident attorney who practices in your state if you are not sure what applies to you.
The full consequences of a car accident may not be appreciated until days, weeks, or even months have gone by. What initially seemed like a sound decision – saving a small amount of money on your policy – may not seem quite so well-advised in the event that you are actually injured in a car accident. “Pain and suffering” are not fancy words; this is not a frivolous lawsuit. This is a vital effort to acquire desperately needed resources from the party at fault, so that you can proceed with your recovery from the accident that left you injured or seriously harmed a loved one. Few personal injury attorneys would ever advise a client to accept a limited tort policy; given the purpose of insurance to begin with, the savings are rarely felt to be worthwhile.
Uninsured Motorist & Under-Insured Motorist
There are two aspects to your insurance that concern motorists with missing or inadequate insurance coverage (“inadequate” when it comes to the maximum amount of damages their insurance will cover, relative to your settlement). UIM and UM, or “under-insured motorist” and “uninsured motorist” insurance. Either form applies specifically to its respective areas of focus. That is to say that “under-insured motorist” insurance won't help you in the event that you are injured in an accident with a negligent driver who has no insurance at all, and the reverse likewise holds true. That being said, either form of insurance will pay out to the maximum extent of your own policy, should the other driver's insurance be insufficient to meet your needs due to the extent of your injures. A practicing personal injury attorney can help to advise you on how much of either type of insurance to purchase, or whether or not it is necessary; you would be well advised to pursue legal consultation in advance, with an attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state of residence.
These policies often vary in cost from one state to another, depending upon how much of a problem a given state has with uninsured or under-insured drivers – particularly the former. In states with relatively low rates, this type of coverage can be much more affordable than liability, comprehensive, and collision.
Out of State Drivers
Out of state coverage is an extension that can be purchased to allow for coverage of normally eligible drivers on your policy who would not otherwise be eligible due to circumstances. For instance, an underage child is usually covered by their parents' car insurance policy, but that most likely will not work if the child attends college in a different state – because different states have different minimum standards concerning auto insurance policies.
You should check with your insurance provider to see if they offer out of state coverage, as it may be more affordable than purchasing a separate car insurance policy for your child. As always, do your research; costs, and availability, vary between different states – and between different providers. Out of state coverage as an extension is not available in every state, but – in terms of your own insurance policy covering you – your insurance will travel with you.
Do I need to hire an attorney if I’ve been in an accident?
Deciding what your next steps should be after you have been involved in an accident can be a stressful moment in anyone’s life. After all, you are already likely dealing with medical bills and the cost of replacing your car or other mode of transportation. Adding in meetings and demands from a lawyer could easily seem overwhelming. For smaller accidents, hiring an attorney may not be necessary. Fender benders and other little roadway mishaps are often handled through nothing more than insurance agents and can lead to a satisfactory result for all parties. However, if your case is more complicated or involves any significant injury, then you may want to seriously consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your claim and complaints.
If you are worried about the potential costs associated with hiring a lawyer, you should know that most personal injury attorneys work on a contingent-fee basis, where they do not get paid unless they help you win your case and receive a settlement. In order to pay them, a predetermined fee is extracted from the settlement amount with the insurance company or the damages awarded to you by the mediator or jury. While the exact percentage of the fee varies from state to state, it typically ranges from between 25% to 40%, with 33% or one-third of your settlement being considered fairly average. This payment arrangement means that you should not worry too much about the cost of hiring a lawyer if you have been injured in a wreck. Research indicates that on average, victims of automobile accidents looking for damages end up receiving 3 1/2 times more money before legal fees than individuals who choose to represent their own issues after a wreck.
Or course, you can absolutely choose not to hire a lawyer. However, there are specific circumstances where that choice may put you at greater risk for not getting the settlement you need. Often after a car accident, there are serious questions of fault and liability that come into play. Without a strong team, your case can all too easily fall apart, costing you most and time that you shouldn’t have to lose. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will have set methods in place to gather evidence, find witnesses, and build the strongest case that they are able with the exact circumstances surrounding your accident. This serves to ease some of the burden off of your own shoulders as well as give you some peace of mind.
Another benefit of speaking to a lawyer after you have been involved in a serious accident is that they are familiar with the rules and procedures that surround personal injury lawsuits. For example, every type of legal action has court ordered time limit regarding how long you have to bring a potential suit against a defendant. These rules are called statutes of limitations, and if you do not know exactly what yours is, then it can be very easy to miss the deadline and with it, your chance at a reasonable settlement. Making this issue more complicated is the fact that these statutes differ dramatically from state to state, and even depending on what agencies are involved in the accident itself. Being able to keep a clear timeline when proceeding with any claim you might want to make is an essential part of having a focused plan of action.
Generally speaking, there is a logical progression to any legal action you might decide to take after an accident that caused you or a loved one physical harm. It looks something like this:
- Speaking to a reputable lawyer who can let you know if you have a valid claim against another party or just generally help to clarify your situation. Sometimes, this initial consultation will lead to you retaining that lawyer’s services. Occasionally, it might be that you have no need of an attorney. Either way, the cost to you for this consultation should, in most cases, be free. Lawyers provide this service for free as a way to encourage people to come to them when they need help, rather than hesitate for fear of adding another bill to their growing list.
- Drafting and submitting the initial demand letter to the potential defendant, putting them on notice that you are weighing your legal options in this case. Usually, these letters detail any pain or injuries you have suffered, specify why you believe the other party is at fault, and request a specific dollar amount to settle your demand. It also specifies that the defendant should contact their insurance money to let them know about the demand, as any settlement receive is more likely to come from them rather from the driver directly.
- Attempts at early resolution through settlement or mediation. Many people do not realize that the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled long before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. It is often in the best interests of all parties to settle the matter in as short and reasonable a period of time as possible. Some companies will even push for a quick and fast settlement before you have a lawyer, since they specialize in being able to decrease their client’s costs. If a simple settlement cannot be reached, then a mediator may be requested to help resolve the dispute. In this case, the situation proceeds like a short, mini-trial, with a neutral mediator hearing both sides of the case and then rendering a verdict that will be legally binding. These options are great ways to make certain that you get the settlement you need in a quick and timely manner. Unfortunately, you also usually do not get as much as you might if you went to trial, as lower offers are more standard in settlement and mediation cases.
- Filing a formal lawsuit if no amenable settlement can be reached and proceeding to trial. Due to the time, fees, and stress involved with this proceeding, it is usually a last resort for most personal injury cases. Due to the extreme rise in costs and stakes, this is the step where previously amicable dealings may become more hostile. It can often feel as though you are being unjustly attacked and you have to live with the potential fear that your case might be dismissed entirely, meaning that your chance for any remuneration is gone. It may not have the tediousness and monotony of the earlier options, but in major battles, it is sometimes the only option. If your case proceeds to this level, then while it is certainly your right, it would be very unwise for you to attempt to proceed without an attorney.
- Proceed with the trial or settle. It is important to know that you do not lose the right to settle after your hearing has begun. If things look like they are proceeding in your favor, then there is every possibility that the opposing council will approach you with some kind of offer. Deciding whether or not it is a fair offer is up to you and, should you choose to hire one, your attorney. Either way, it could be considered a good sign for you if the opposing council approaches you in this way.
Lawyers are also extremely useful when it comes to being informed about your rights, especially when dealing with insurance companies. Remember that insurance companies will always want to lessen the amount of liability that they might be exposed to. As such, they are likely to search for every way to get out of paying you the settlement to which you are rightfully entitled. Their usual tactics include trying to minimize their client’s role in the accident, trying to inflate your role, and attempting to shift blame and cause onto other parties. Having an experienced personal injury attorney can make sure that your insurance company is holding up every detail of your own policy or that your opponent’s insurance company does not try to place the blame for the accident on your shoulder instead of its client’s.
Ultimately, there are positive and negative aspects to hiring a lawyer to help you deal with a personal injury issue resulting from a car accident. While lawyers may not be necessary for smaller, less serious accidents, they are almost always a good idea when dealing with anything more than the smallest of incidents. If you have been injured in a serious accident and believe that another party may be at fault, please consider contacting a good person injury lawyer as soon as you possibly can.
Fatal Auto Accidents, Wrongful Death
No auto accident is ever a pleasant situation. At their absolute best, there is an unsteady and nervous exchange of information. The police are often involved. More than likely, someone has sustained some minor injuries, but everybody walks away – this is the most that can be hoped for. Unfortunately, most who find themselves involved in a vehicular accident aren't so lucky. This is particularly true when the auto accident involves a motorcycle crash or a large truck collision. Motorcyclists lack the protection afforded by a substantial vehicle frame, and large trucks cause devastating amounts of damage due to their overall mass. All too often, the worst case scenario occurs, and there are one or more fatalities resulting from injuries sustained in the accident. As many as thirty-five thousand Americans lose their lives each year, in just over thirty thousand fatal car accidents.
For the survivors of the car accident, there are medical bills and expenses to be paid. For those who have lost friends or loved ones to a fatal car, truck, or motorcycle accident, there are funeral arrangements... as well as the grieving process, learning to cope with the loss of a loved one, and the substantial possibility – in today's society – of having to file a wrongful death suit in order to receive adequate compensation to at least cover the expenses left in the wake of the victim's death. These are often substantial, sometimes amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. There are also such considerations as loss of spousal companionship, loss of provider income, and compensation for pain and suffering. You should not attempt a claim for wrongful death without an experienced personal injury attorney – preferably one from a professional law firm that specializes in wrongful death suits.
Fatal Car Accidents
An accident involving two cars is the least likely of most vehicular accident circumstances – with multiple drivers – to result in a fatality, but they do still happen all too often – largely because of the fact that the vast majority of the vehicles on America's roads are cars. In addition to any fatality, common injuries in a car wreck include concussions, long-term concussive brain trauma, severe bruising – up to and including internal bleeding, lacerations, broken ribs (from impacting with the steering column), and paralysis.
Fatal Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents present a disproportionately high fatality rating due to the speeds at which the vehicles involved are moving at the time of their collision, coupled with the lack of protection afforded to the individual on the motorcycle. When someone on a motorcycle experiences a fatal vehicular accident, their survivors are often forced to hire a personal injury lawyer to pursue wrongful death damages. The inherent dangers involved in riding a motorcycle have unfortunately served to slant both legal and public opinion against them, and motorcyclists are regularly (and often unfairly) assumed to be at fault for any auto accidents in which they are involved. This is particularly true if they are not around to defend themselves against unfair accusations.
Fatal Truck Accidents
As with motorcycle accidents, large truck crashes are often placed at the feet of the truck drivers. Trucks have what is often seen as an unfair advantage by the survivors of those who are killed while driving smaller vehicles, as their vehicles more often keep them safe from severe harm. There is a popular cultural perception that they are often under the influence of substances meant to keep them awake over the long haul (as well as functioning in a nearly constant state of exhaustion). Going up against the attorneys representing a trucking company is not an easy task; the company will inevitably fight liability for any and all injuries sustained. Common arguments include that other vehicles involved in the accident were following too close, ignored high-visibility signage on the body of the truck, or were riding in the trucker's blind spots.
In the event of a death in an accident where at least one driver was found to be negligent, a wrongful death claim can be made against the negligent party. This is usually done on behalf of the deceased's estate, represented by their next of kin or other legal representation, although some particulars vary by state. It merits noting that the determination of an insurance company as to a party's negligence, and the legal determination of such, are not the same thing.
It is the responsibility to the plaintiff – the representative of the deceased's estate – to prove two things, broadly speaking: that the party against which they are making a claim had a duty to the deceased, in terms of being somehow responsible for their safety, and that they were negligent in this responsibility. Negligence is a complicated concept under U.S. law; for instance, a person can be either fully negligent, or negligent in part, or bear a certain portion of the overall responsibility for a fatal auto accident. Negligence may be shared by both drivers, or with a driver and a passenger, or with a driver and a property owner – whose neglect of his or her property is found to have contributed to the accident.
In the event of a wrongful death claim, you will need the services of an experienced auto accident lawyer, one who is intimately familiar with personal injury and wrongful death law for the state in which the auto wreck occurred. At SettleMax, we maintain a nationwide legal network of attorneys who work on wrongful death auto accident cases. We can put you in touch with the right lawyer, in your area, to get your legal questions answered and make filing a claim as quick and painless as possible.
Passenger Injury in a Car Accident
Car accidents are terrifying. Few events can compare to the sheer level of fear, confusion, and uncertainty involved in any kind of major vehicular collision. For passengers injured in the event of an auto accident, there may be significant medical bills involved in their recovery – as well as a variety of other concerns, of which many people aren't aware in advance. Lost wages, pain and suffering, extended physical therapy, permanent disability, loss of spousal companionship, and other such factors may come into play. Rarely is the full extent of bills and lost financial compensation fully foreseen by those affected. At SettleMax, we offer assistance with finding and procuring the appropriate legal help for those injured in a car wreck, semi truck accident, or other similar auto accidents.
Passenger Injury: Filing a Claim
An individual injured in a car accident as a passenger in an involved vehicle, within the greater [CITY] area, will generally have an easier time dealing with their insurance claim than the individuals who were driving. This is because there are fewer questions with regards to the potential liability of the passenger; the insurance companies are usually more than happy to hold the involved drivers accountable. Even in the event that an injured passenger was riding in the vehicle whose driver was deemed at fault for the accident, the passenger may still file a claim for compensation. Generally speaking, they themselves will not be held in any way personally responsible for the auto accident.
There are still complications involved in filing a claim in the event of a vehicular accident. In most states, the passenger must choose which driver they wish to file a claim against. This does vary from state to state; in some cases, it is possible to file a claim against all drivers involved in the accident – regardless of who is found to be primarily at fault. This is usually true if the policy of one driver does not include sufficient liability coverage to meet the needs of the injured passenger's medical bills; in this case, a claim may be filed against the liability policy of the other driver. This makes two assumptions, however: that there was a second driver involved, and that they could be held to be at fault for the accident to some secondary extent.
This latter condition can sometimes be acknowledged, even if a second or subsequent driver was not found to be primarily at fault for the accident in the first place. When the injured party was a passenger in one of the vehicles involved, the law tends to favor a positive resolution on their behalf. The services of an experienced accidental injury attorney will be of tremendous help in ascertaining whether or not this is a possibility in a given case; the fact that an insurance company has small grounds to refute a claim does not mean that they will be straightforward, or that they will be eager to pay out.
Personal Injury Lawyer: Choosing an Accidental Injury
The complications involved in filing a claim for medical expenses following injury as a passenger in a car accident can be daunting, despite the often sympathetic view towards injured passengers. The matter is further complicated by state-to-state variations in law and insurance policy. Filing a claim against the wrong party, or delaying in filing a claim, can result in the essential nullification of an accident victim's eligibility for financial compensation. This is an outcome that is potentially quite devastating: in addition to medical bills, accident victims often experience other, unanticipated personal and financial consequences. Such eventualities often include loss of income, temporary or permanent disability, full or partial paralysis, pain and suffering, and infections or injuries occurring subsequent to the car accident as a direct consequence of those received during the actual event.
The stress of dealing with long-term medical care and recovery, particularly without the financial support of a properly filed insurance claim, also takes its toll on the family members and other loved ones of the injured party.
The most highly advised course of action for the injured passenger is to procure the services of a personal injury lawyer. Many law firms and privately practicing attorneys specialize in the laws surrounding accidental injury, and they have impressive success rates. Lawyers representing passengers who have been injured in car accidents are able to resolve any disputes with the insurance companies to their client's satisfaction nearly ninety-seven percent of the time.
A qualified and experienced car accident attorney in [CITY] can help an accident victim in many ways, such as with the unique situation of a passenger in the car of a relative with whom they share living accommodations. If that relative is found to be at fault, the passenger cannot file a claim against their liability policy – they are considered to be covered under the same policy. This involves an entirely different action: the necessity of negotiating with the provider of the policy under which they themselves are covered. It may be possible, in some states – and under certain circumstances – to file a claim using the passenger's own insurance policy; this is another area in which an experienced accidental injury lawyer can be of assistance.
What should I do if I’ve been in an accident?
Automobile accidents of all kinds are frightening and often overwhelming experiences that can leave the people involved at a loss for what to do. However, if you are prepared for the worst and have a clear plan of action, then you can make sure to protect your rights while simultaneously taking care of everyone who may be involved in the accident. There are several practical and helpful actions that you can undertake after any accident in order to guard your interests.
- Immediately following an accident, if you are physically able to do so, make sure that your car is turned off and, if possible, out of the way of any potential emergency services that may arrive on the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident is always a bad idea, and it can even leave you vulnerable to criminal charges. Instead, make sure you are safe, and minimize the potential damage and disruption to other drivers on the road with markers, reflectors, or emergency flares if they are available.
- Take steps to contact emergency services to deal with any medical emergencies that may exist as a result of the crash. If possible, make sure all injured parties are safe and stable, but do not try to provide medical attention unless you are a trained emergency responder. If an already injured person is moved improperly, this could compound their injuries and cause both you and the injured party more problems down the line. Calling for help and making sure that all of the injured are in no immediate physical danger is the best and safest way to take action.
- Make certain that legal authorities are contacted and arrive on the scene to begin the process of creating and filing a police report. Police reports will provide valuable information in the future should you decide to take legal action. Additionally, the police will make sure that they have the appropriate contact information for all parties involved as well as any potential witnesses to the accident. All of this information is essential to have. However, you should not rely on only the police report to make sure that the entirety of the accident has been recorded thoroughly. If at all possible, do your best to record the events as closely as you can. Take pictures at the time of the accident if you are able, but if not, make sure that you return as soon as possible to record any remaining evidence that might still be there. Make sure your pictures are from multiple angles, as every bit of information can be important when dealing with a potential personal injury lawsuit.
- Seek medical treatment immediately after the accident or as soon as you possibly can. Also make sure to record the extent of your injuries through photographs and medical reports. Closely follow any and all medical advice you are given, and make certain to attend every scheduled follow up and procedure that you might need. Having complete and clear records of the ways in which your overall health has been affected and potentially compromised by the events during your vehicular accident.
- If your situation is serious and your injuries are severe, seriously considered hiring the help of a personal injury lawyer. This type of case can become very complicated very quickly. Generally speaking, the more serious the injuries are, the more complicated the case can become. Having an experienced team of professionals who are there to represent your interests can be the best way to make sure that you are protected in the event of an accident.
There are also important things to do that deal specifically with your insurance company. If you need to file a suit to pursue any potential damages, then the odds are good that you will be dealing with either your insurance company or the liable party’s insurance company. As insurance companies specialize in settling cases for the least amount of money possible, dealing with them can often be complicated and overwhelming. Here are some helpful tips for protecting your interests while dealing with an insurance company.
- Make sure to know the details of your policy in order to better be better informed about your rights in the event of an accident. This knowledge will help you in any situation where you are forced to make a claim with an insurance agency.
- If an accident occurs, make sure to alert your insurance company as soon as possible. Make sure you record the name and contact information of the person you speak with, as well as the time that you reported the accident. The company will assign you to a specific insurance agent that will handle all of the details of your case. They may want to take a recorded statement or collect information. While they are free to set up their own investigation into the accident, it is generally an unwise decision to provide a statement or medical reports without first consulting a personal injury attorney. However, you should keep all receipts, bills, and other documentation that records a specific monetary cost that you are inflicted with as a direct result of the accident, as these bills will be useful in establishing a baseline for potential economic damages in the future.
- Be cautious about signing any releases of information or any kind of waiver without having a licensed lawyer take a look at exactly what the insurance company is requesting. Similarly, be hesitant about accepting any money from an insurance company until you know exactly how strong your claim for personal injury compensation may be.
Unfortunately, cases also routinely arise where the other party involved in the accident is driving without insurance. In these cases, collecting the damages that you need in order to stay financially stable are more difficult. However, there is usually some kind of legal action available to you. In an ideal situation, for example, the driver that hit you could just pay for your expenses out of pocket. Of course, the likelihood of a person having enough money to do that and yet not carrying auto insurance is extremely slim. This is why there are other options available to you, like arranging a set series of payments for the other driver to make damages. Alternatively, you could try to appeal to your own insurance company for funds if you have wisely included the clause in your insurance that includes a provision for uninsured drivers. In this case, your own insurance company would help to bridge the gap between what the other driver can afford to pay and the cost of your medical expenses, making sure that you do not have to swallow the entirety of the difference.
No matter what, it is essential that you always keep a realistic view of what your case may be worth. When you are injured, it is easy to let your emotions run away with you and feel that you are justified in every legal demand. However, that is not how the law works. There is a reason that most states have specific laws set in place to determine how much compensation a victim can receive for medical costs, loss of income, and mental distress – it helps to remove emotions from each individual case and provide an objective standard to most accidents. Obviously, if your injuries are extremely severe, someone you love has died, or other extenuating circumstances are at play, then the amount that you could receive would be larger. Just as each accident is different, so is every order for damages in an accident. Having a clear idea of what kind of compensation you can expect is a healthy way to enter into the legal battle surrounding personal injury lawsuits.