Auto Accident


Introduction

Each year thousands of people are involved in auto accidents. Many of these people are injured and have no one to turn to receive unbiased answers to their many questions. Your insurance agent doesn't want you to file a claim. The other person's insurance adjuster is only interested in settling for the least amount possible. The decisions you make immediately after an accident can determine whether you will be fairly treated and receive just compensation for your injuries and damages.

What should I do at the scene of the collision?

  • Call the police if you have more than $750 in damages OR anyone is hurt.
  • Don't make any statements except to the police officer and even then DO NOT ADMIT you were at fault. Remember, anything you say can, and will be used against you.
  • Get as much information as possible about the other driver.
  • Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses or anyone who arrives at the scene of the collision, including ambulance attendants, firemen or tow truck drivers.
  • If you are injured, inform the investigating police officer and promptly seek medical attention.

What should I do after I leave the scene of the collision?

  • If you are injured, promptly seek medical attention.
  • Follow the medical advice you are given.
  • Report the collision to your insurance agent (or insurance company) promptly.
  • Get a copy of the police officer's accident report which should be available within a few days.
  • If you have questions about your injuries, ask your doctor. Do NOT depend on medical advice of friends, relatives or even an attorney.
  • Promptly have photographs taken of the damage to your vehicle and any visible signs of the injuries you received.

Should I contact an attorney?

Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. Only an attorney can advise you concerning the legal implications of your accident and the injuries you received. Your attorney's discussion should inform you of the factors concerning liability, injuries, damages and recovery. You should inquire as to the attorney's qualifications to handle a claim like yours as well as the experience of the law firm in similar situations. You should be wary of attorneys who make guarantees or who are recommended by someone who appears at the scene of the collision.

Being injured in an automobile or other accident can be a traumatic experience. Insurance companies hire adjusters and defense attorneys, in an effort to keep their payments at a minimum. An attorney can relieve you of the hassle and frustration involved in dealing with adjusters.

Most attorneys handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee. That means they get paid only if you get paid. This method of payment provides an incentive for them to do the best they can for you.

Often a person will attempt to handle the claim themseleves, become frustrated with the adjuster, and then seek legal assistance. Usually by that time they have said and done enough to severly damage their case.

Payment of Damages

Unfortunately, an injured party cannot be relieved of the pain, suffering and loss incurred as a result of personal injuries. The compensation for such injuries must be translated into a dollar value and that value must be collected in order for the claim to have merit. Generally, such compensation comes from proceeds of insurance policies.

Insurance

Most states require as a condition for the licensure of drivers and vehicles, that they be covered by liability insurance. In addition, many states require that insurance policies provide coverages for uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage. These coverages protect you, the injured party.

A good insurance agent will also recommend medical payments coverage on your own policy. This coverage takes care of your medical bills incurred as a result of an automobile collision until you can recover from the wrongdoer.

Other insurance coverages such as Worker's Compensation, HMO, PPO, Accidental Injury or Major Medical may provide payment for injuries received in an accident. To be certain that you receive the maximum potential recovery, it is necessary to review and identify all insurance policies involved, including your own.

Is there any formula to determine if I am being offered a reasonable settlement?

NO, personal injuries have many elements of damages. They can include recovery for the following: reasonable and necessary medical expenses, physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, temporary or permanent disability, loss of earnings and loss of future earnings. In some instances, the loss of love, comfort and consolation may also be compensable for a spouse.

Each accident and each injury is different. This area of law is very fact sensitive. The nature and extent of your injuries, treatment and your previous condition will affect the valuation of your damages.

This page constitutes advertising under the rules regulating the legal profession. It is not a substitute for legal advice.