Car Accident FAQ
1. What should I do when I get in a wreck?
- Safety first. Make sure you are out of the way of any traffic before you exit your vehicle.
- Call the police. Make sure the police collect data from the scene of the accident. The police will create a crash report which will come in handy later on when dealing with the insurance companies. if the accident occurred on private property, the police will most likely not create a report, but you can still file a report of the incident.
- Exchange information from other driver. Make sure to take picture of their driver’s license, insurance card, and license plates. Be sure to have all of your necessary information handy as well.
- Take pictures of damages from scene. The more pictures, the better. Be sure to take pictures of damages on both vehicles (as long as it is safe to do so), the position of the vehicles, etc. You want to make sure you have enough information to prove facts of the collision.
- Watch what you say. Insurance companies will take everything you say into account when trying to prove fault of a collision. Don’t say things like “Sorry” or “My bad” as that would hint that you might have been at fault for the accident, whether or not you are.
- Seek medical attention. If you feel any pain or believe you need medical attention for any reason, do not hesitate. The sooner you can see a doctor, the sooner you can recover and can avoid claims from the insurance companies that your injuries were not substantial since you didn’t need immediate attention.
- Set up a claim with your insurance company as soon as you can. If you wait, you may forget the particulars of the accident and not be able to provide enough detail about the collision to the insurance company.
- Clarify your coverage with your insurance company. You want to know what will be covered and what won’t before you enter the claims process. Ask about your coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists, personal injury protection and rental coverage.
2. How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?
Most personal injury attorneys work under a contingency fee, meaning you don’t pay them until the case and insurance claims are settled. Once settled, the lawyer will take a certain percentage of whatever amount is awarded from the insurance company, and the rest will go to you.
3. How soon should I file a claim with the insurance company?
You should file a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible. By doing this, you can start the claims process sooner and keep the details of the accident fresh on your mind to provide as much information to the insurance company as possible. This will insure your claims move smoothly and your case doesn’t get drawn out longer than need be.
4. What should I claim from the insurance company?
Depending on the severity of the collision, there are a number of civil claims that can be filed. The most common civil claims that personal injury lawyers recommend you file are negligence, lost wages, and property damage. Claiming negligence simply means you are claiming that the other driver was negligent in their driving which resulted in the collision. This makes the other party responsible for any damages, pain or suffering that occurred during the accident. Should you be debilitated to the extent that you cannot return to work, you would claim lost wages to get compensation from the time of the accident to the time you are recovered enough to return to work. Claiming property damage means the other driver is responsible for any damages that occurred during the car accident. A personal injury attorney can help you determine which claims apply to your case and how to legally proceed with them.
5. Is a lawyer necessary?
Regardless of how minor or significant the injury, always speak to a lawyer first. An experienced lawyer can help with smaller and larger cases. They can help you determine what to claim and protect your rights in court should your case make it that far.
6. What does the legal process in a personal injury case look like?
After your case has been accepted by a personal injury lawyer, your case will go through a series of events. First, your lawyer will draft up a set of demands from the other driver and their insurance company stating the claims you and your lawyer wish to file. The case will then enter discovery which is a series of questions sent back and forth between your lawyer that ask about the details of the case. These questions range from asking about simple information (such as phone number and address) to the specifics of the case. After discovery, the case will move to litigation where the lawyers negotiate with the insurance companies about how much you should be compensated from the case depending on which claims you file. Going to court is the last step in a personal injury case, should the case make it that far. Most of the time, the insurance companies will settle on an amount to reimburse their client; other times, usually in very large cases, the case will be taken to court to determine which claims should be reimbursed. After the case is settled, your claims are compensated for and the personal injury lawyer will take their percentage of what the case makes.
7. How will the insurance company know that I’m injured?
The insurance will see all your medical records and bills surrounding the case. Depending on what you claim from the accident and your insurance’s policies, they will reimburse the medical expenses up to the amount you are covered for.
8. How will my medical bills be paid?
Depending on yours and the other driver’s insurance policy, your medical bills should be paid for. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand the insurance policies and how to reimburse any bills resulting from the accident.
9. If my injuries keep me from work, how will I recover financially?
In some cases, you can claim lost wages which acts as compensation for missed work hours due to a collision. Talk to a personal injury lawyer to get help in claiming lost wages in your case.
10. What kind of damages can be recovered by insurance?
Depending on what your insurance and the insurance of the other driver covers will determine what damages you can recover. The damages include the vehicles involved, yourself, and any property damages that might have occurred from the collision. Depending on what the policies of insurance cover will determine how much, and what can be recovered from the collision.
11. What if I don’t have medical insurance?
In personal injury collision cases, medical insurance is usually not looked at. Medical expenses and property damages will be covered by the car insurance policies of the parties involved in the collision. How much of the medical expenses that is covered will depend on the limits of the policies. It is advised by most personal injury lawyers to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM) on your insurance, as this will help with recovering expenses should the other party not have insurance.
12. How will my car be recovered?
This too will depend on the insurance policies of the parties involved in the collision. Personal Injury lawyers can help you determine what can be recovered on your car depending on the severity of the vehicle’s damages.
13. Will my insurance be the only party involved?
No. Both party’s insurance’s will be involved in a motor vehicle accident.
14. What if my car is totaled?
Some policies will cover the total cost of the vehicle, while others will either pay for what’s owed on the vehicle or match what has already been paid so you can put that money towards a new vehicle. Take a close look into your insurance policies to see how your insurance company deals with recovering vehicles.
15. How long will the personal injury case take to complete?
There are multiple factors that influence the time it will take for your Personal injury case to be complete. These variables include: the severity of the accident, the cooperation of the other party and their insurance, and whether or not the case will go to trial. It is important to stay patient in these cases as some can be long, but keep in mind that the patience will help ensure that the damages inflicted on you can be recovered financially.
16. What if the other person doesn’t have insurance?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist (UIM) policies are usually offered by most insurance policies. PIP will ensure that you are medically covered by your own insurance should you be injured in a car accident and the other party does not have insurance. UIM will help recover damages should the other party not have insurance. Personal Injury lawyers highly recommend speaking with your insurance company and figuring out how to get these policies on your insurance plan.