10 Answers I Need to Know To Represent You on an Auto Accident Claim
Bill prided himself on his safe driving record. Since turning 30, he hadn’t gotten a ticket, and had never been involved in an accident. He realized that a few minutes saved on the way to work was not worth the hassle of a speeding ticket or increased insurance rates. Unfortunately, this did nothing to save him from the effects of other bad and unsafe drivers on the road.
One evening, Bill was driving home from work when he got into the right turn lane and slowed down for traffic. He was only minutes from his house and the comfort of his couch. Just as the cars in front of him began moving forward, Bill was jolted forward from an impact at the rear of his car. His airbag instantly deployed, and although his seat-belt held him in place, he was extremely dazed and shocked. He had no idea what had happened.
When Bill finally stumbled out of his car, the police had already arrived on the scene. There was glass everywhere and the front end of the car behind him was smashed. The trunk and rear bumper of his car was caved-in and mangled.
The man in the car behind Bill had also been on his way home from work. He hadn’t been turning right like Bill. Instead, he had been trying to whip around a car in front of him by passing on the right, trying to shoot the gap between the car he was passing and Bill’s car. He had failed his maneuver.
Bill gave his report to the police and got the other driver’s name, contact and insurance information. Though he felt dazed, Bill told the police he was fine – without injury – and had his wife pick him up and take him home.
Unfortunately, Bill wasn’t fine. He started feeling soreness in his neck the next morning. His first trip to the doctor was the beginning of many more. Bill sustained a neck injury from the impact, one that would eventually lead to missed workdays and a considerable amount of pain and discomfort.
Bill was a conscientious person in more than just his driving. He had been smart enough to talk to an attorney about the accident shortly after it happened. Following the attorney’s advice, Bill pursued a personal injury case and won. His settlement paid for the medical treatments he required, and the lost work that the injury had caused.
The lawyer wasn’t able to take back the accident, but he was able to help Bill deal with the aftermath.
Personal Injury Attorneys help you understand your options after an accident. As Bill demonstrated, it is always a smart move to talk to a lawyer after an accident — even if you think you aren’t hurt at the time — regardless of who caused the accident. Here’s what a Personal Injury Lawyer needs to know to get involved in your case:
1. Were you at fault?
If you were at fault, your attorney’s role is protecting your interests and evaluating potential issues of contributory negligence. If you were not at fault, your Personal Injury Attorney gathers documentation to prove causation, negligence, and damages.
2. Was the other driver insured?
Cases are approached differently depending on whether the drivers are insured. An insured driver’s insurance company may be on the hook for damages. An uninsured driver may have been driving another person’s car, a person who may need to be brought into the lawsuit.
3. Was the other driver impaired?
You may or may not know it at the time of the accident, but an important part of the case may involve the fact that the other driver was impaired. Most states take driving under the influence very seriously. It favors your claim when the other person was so negligent as to drive while impaired. It may also be possible to hold a drinking establishment responsible for the accident if a bartender over-served the impaired driver.
4. Were you injured?
Bodily injuries can be more expensive than the damage to your vehicle. Injuries from a car accident can take time to fully show themselves, meaning you may have sustained an injury without even realizing it. Injuries demand a high level of compensation because you may spend years going to the doctor and/or rehabilitation to effectively treat the damage. In some cases, the injury may never heal. You deserve extra compensation if this is the situation.
5. Were you insured?
The correct answer to this question should be yes, but sometimes life does not go the way it should. If you were uninsured while driving, it presents a new set of challenges to the case, but it does not make it hopeless. If you were truly not at fault for what happened, the other party is still accountable for damaging your property and your body.
6. Do you have a police report?
Successful pursuit of a case depends on having all the relevant information. If the police were involved after the accident, they have created a report documenting the parties, the scene, statements, and their observations. The police report may be immediately available or may take some time to retrieve. Regardless, if you end up hiring a lawyer, make sure to bring all relevant accident documentation with you for your consultation meeting.
7. How long ago did the accident occur?
It is best to contact a Personal Injury Lawyer immediately following an accident. Immediate consultation gives you the benefit of your lawyer’s knowledge and experience for each step in the claim process. However, if you are just now realizing that you need to take legal action for a past accident, all is not lost — contact a Personal Injury Attorney and tell them your story.
8. Do you understand contingency?
You don’t have to have money to pursue a personal injury case, especially if it looks like it is winnable. Personal Injury Attorneys often work on a contingency basis, meaning, you don’t pay any fees directly, and the attorney only gets paid for winning your case. The attorney collects a portion of the award when compensation is given for damages.
9. Do you need a lawyer?
While it is possible to pursue a legal case without an attorney, no one recommends this. The law is simply too confusing and complicated to get good results without proper training. If you want to win a case, bring it to a professional. A Personal Injury Lawyer has the expertise to define damages, guide you through the claims process, and litigate if needed.
10. What are your damages?
An auto accident causes collateral damage – problems that extend beyond the initial bodily injury you sustained. The cost of the accident may extend to property damage, lost work, and mental anguish. There are times when those costs are more disruptive to your life than the physical injuries you sustained. Car accidents are terrifying and remarkably destructive. The overall cost of the accident must be accounted for – to you, your family, and your livelihood. Your attorney will ask questions along these lines, in hopes of fleshing out the reality of your situation after the accident. The more details you have available, the easier this process will be, and a Personal Injury Attorney can help.
If you are in a car accident, seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney immediately for help gathering documentation, processing claims, and establishing damages.