Car Accident Lawyer - What are Your Options?
Victims in an automobile accident may include the car's driver, passengers, by-standers, and even the spouse of a fatally injured person.
If you have recently been involved in an auto accident and aren’t really sure if you have a valid claim or whether it is even worthwhile suing the other driver, contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your situation.
Except in those cases where the vehicle accident is serious enough to cause severe or even fatal injuries, or if alcohol was involved and the state prosecutes the driver who was at fault, most people find themselves dealing with insurance companies, medical bills, and car repair expenses.
Money Recovery in No-Fault States Versus Fault States
If you live in a so-called no-fault state, unless your accident-related expenses are above a certain amount, you will not be able to sue the other driver. If you live in a fault state, you may have recourse against the other driver, if you believe he / she caused the car accident.
Auto accident victims may be able to recover money from the other driver, the owner of the car, and even a driver's employer. Compensation can include monies to pay for the damage to your car, current and future medical bills, and any permanent injuries you may have suffered. In some cases you can be awarded by the court, punitive damages, which are designed to punish the other driver for his/ her actions. But the operative word is “may”. Unless you speak with car accident lawyers, you will not be aware of all the options available to you.
Do not try to settle your case yourself.
If you settle early, you rule out the possibility of receiving further compensation, which can be substantial in cases where other unknown serious conditions caused by the car accident manifest weeks later.
Automobile accidents are obviously stressful events. If serious injuries occur, it may be difficult for those involved to use good judgment or to make decisions that are in their best interest. By knowing what to do and not to do, a car accident victim can not only help preserve or bolster his/ her own credibility when a claim is filed, but also increase the value of the injury claim.
A Few Pointers to Observe After Any Auto Accident
Here are a few pointers that should be followed after any auto accident, whether it is minor or serious.
1- Don’t leave the scene of a car accident until all insurance, driver's license, and registration information is exchanged between the drivers. It is important to contact your insurance company, the police, and / or the department of motor vehicles right away when you are injured in a car accident. The exception would be if you are injured and consequently are unable to provide the necessary information at the scene. Nevertheless, US states vary in the time periods they allow car accident victims to report a crash. Be aware that not reporting your accident on time may limit your ability to collect compensation for injuries and damages. Check with the state's DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicals) where the accident occurred to learn about their reporting requirements.
2- Only discuss with the police how you think the accident occurred.
3- Make no apologies, say how you are sorry, or mention that you wished the accident had not happened. Such feelings of remorse can and most likely will be taken out of context and / or interpreted by others (such as insurers or other lawyers) as an admission of fault.
4- Beware other insurance adjusters and companies.
Insurance adjusters will want to have a recorded or written statement from anyone involved in the accident. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, you are only obligated to provide them with basic contact information. The smart move is not to give a statement, which could be used to minimize your injuries or perhaps to point out inconsistencies in any other statements you might have made. Instead, seek the advice of a car accident attorney.
5- Do not refuse medical attention, particularly if an ambulance is on the scene, or if you feel even slightly injured. Because of shock or the nature of some injuries (such a whip lash), an injury may not become apparent until hours and in some cases, weeks later. The other party’s insurers will try to minimize your injuries and if you do not seek medical attention at the accident they may argue that you were not ever seriously injured.
Get Guidance from a Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident lawyer who handles auto accident injuries will help you negotiate with the other driver's insurance company or decide whether your case should ultimately be resolved in court.