You have legal rights after an auto accident & may be entitled to compensation! Protect those rights. What to do if you’re in an accident:
Gather information. Talk to witnesses. Take photographs of the scene, including damage to all vehicles involved. Exchange insurance information. Take notes. Pay attention to relevant statements made by all parties.
Be aware that an insurance adjuster may hire a private investigator to monitor your post accident activities. They may do so by videotaping you or interviewing your neighbors.
Call the police. Local Police Officers will gather information, investigate and issue a report with their findings. The officer(s) will provide all parties with a collision exchange form at the scene. Police will later issue a report that is important as it documents the crash, provides an official account of the scene and includes evidence of fault.
Be sure to tell your healthcare providers about all of your symptoms including any pain you experience. The insurance company evaluates your claim based on your doctor's records and reports. It is very important to maintain a good relationship with your doctor. If you miss appointments or fail to cooperate with your doctor, it may damage your claim.
As the victim of a car accident, you have a legal right to pursue filing a claim against parties that are responsible or at fault for the accident.
Do not settle your claim until you and your doctor can predict your future healthcare needs. Don't let the adjuster pressure you to settle prematurely!
Once a claim is filed, be careful what you say to the insurance adjuster. Carefully consider every question asked by the insurance company, as they will want a statement from you. Any information you reveal could be used against you later. Don't let the adjuster pressure you to settle prematurely.
Lastly, do not sign anything without careful consideration, especially any kind of Release. Signing a release will end your claim!
Question & Answers
Do I need a lawyer?
Following an accident, the decision of whether or not to hire an attorney is important. Insurance companies settle claims for 2-3 times more with an attorney than without. Having an attorney will also level the playing field because the insurance company will have a team of lawyers and adjusters who are skilled negotiators trained to settle your claim for less.
Can I afford to hire a lawyer?
Yes. Most law firms charge a percentage of the amount recovered from the insurance company for personal injury claims. This is also how payment is handled here. We offer a free consultation and our fees are not collected until your claim is finally resolved.
How do I handle the insurance company asking for a statement and medical release?
Its best to consult with a personal injury attorney before providing any statements or signing any documents. It is common to make a simple mistake at this point that could damage your claim in the future. Any statement you provide can be used against you later to show inconsistencies with your version of the accident. Also, you must be really careful in providing your statement as the information can be used to reduce your compensation or deny your claim in full.
You have to be very careful in signing over a medical release to the insurance company as well. The insurance company most likely will not explain the scope of the medical release as it will give them complete access to all of your medical records. The insurance company will comb through your entire medical record searching for evidence of a pre-existing condition or other ways to dispute your injuries.
Who will pay for my medical bills and related expenses?
Medical expenses following a car accident can add up quick. These medical bills in addition to other expenses such as lost income and travel expenses can be substantial. These are all considered damages and the at-fault insurance company is usually responsible to pay for it. These expenses will come out of your insurance settlement after your claim is settled. You are required to arrange the payment of these medical bills and expenses until settlement is reached. Your health insurance should pay for these medical bills if you have health insurance. Your health insurance will pay these bills; however, you are contractually obligated to pay back the health insurer once you settle your auto insurance claim. This is called subrogation. An attorney can also help you negotiate these subrogation claims.
If I hire a lawyer, will my claim end up in court?
No. Most injury claims handled by us are resolved without going to court and a lawsuit. We will always discuss the option of filing a lawsuit with you first, so you will have make the decision of whether to file a suit or not.
What will be my time commitment with a lawyer?
Minimal. There will be an initial consultation with paperwork. A few follow up phone calls may be required to gather more information and update you on your status.
How long will it take to settle my claim?
Most claims are settled within 90 days of receiving your doctor’s final treatment report.
What if the party at fault is uninsured or underinsured?
If the party at fault is not insured or inadequately insured to cover your injuries, you may be able to make a claim under your own motorist coverage.
Will I need to see my attorney frequently or appear in court often?
It will most likely not be necessary to see your attorney frequently as the attorney will contact you by phone to communicate and update you on your claim. Likewise, a court appearance will rarely be necessary. Your attorney will handle the matter and attend most court appearances on your behalf.
Is there a deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit?
Yes, every state has a statute of limitations with a strict time limit for filing an auto accident claim. You should consult with an attorney immediately to be sure you do not run out of time to file an auto accident lawsuit. If the statute of limitations expires, you can no longer seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
What if I have more questions?
Please do not hesitate to contact our office toll free at (888) 617-8113 anytime with questions or concerns. Our friendly team is eager to assist clients every step of the way!