Car Accident FAQ
If able, the first priority would be to check and see if anyone was hurt. If you or anyone else sustained an injury, do not try to move on your own. Wait until emergency personnel arrive and evaluate you. Make sure that your account of the car accident gets into the police report. Never admit fault for the incident. Do not make any statements at the scene. But try to collect as much pertinent information as possible. If you have been involved in an accident, be sure to stop immediately and remain at the scene regardless of whether anyone has been injured or whose fault the accident may have been.
Every detail of the accident may prove useful if you choose to file a claim later. Here is some of the information from the crash scene that could prove valuable:
- The location, date and time of the accident
- Names and contact information for all parties involved, including any witnesses to the accident
- Description of the vehicles involved, including the make and model of each vehicle
- Insurance information for other drivers involved in the accident
- Take photographs to document the incident. If you have your cell phone with a camera, use it. Photograph your injuries, the position of the vehicles, the damage to the vehicles, and other evidence at the scene.
The best thing to do is to call an experienced personal injury lawyer right after the accident so that the lawyer can contact your insurance company and the other person's insurance company for you.
If you only have pain and no apparent injuries, you may feel as if you do not need medical attention. The truth is that many soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, get worse if not properly treated and symptoms may not even surface until days after the incident. If you have been injured do not decline medical attention at the scene. In addition go to the hospital to get a checkup. Head injuries such as concussions need immediate attention. Your visit to the hospital will not only create a record of your injuries, but also help put you on the road to recovery.
Negligence refers to careless or reckless behavior on the part of another individual and/or company. A person can be negligent by having done something or by failing to do something that he or she should have done. Common examples of driver negligence include:
- Exceeding the speed limit or driving at an unsafe speed given the traffic, weather and roadway conditions
- Making an unsafe lane change
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Failure to follow the rules of the road such as running a red light or stop sign or failing to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian
- Distracted driving, such as talking on the cell phone or texting while driving
- Failure to maintain one's vehicle properly
The type and amount of compensation to which you are entitled usually depends on the nature of the accident and the extent of your injuries. You could seek compensation for damages including, but not limited to:
- Medical expenses, hospitalization, surgery, emergency room fees and cost of medications and medical devices
- Loss of wages and loss of earning capacity due to time missed at work
- Cost of rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Permanent injuries
- Disabilities or disfigurement
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Emotional injury
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of services of a spouse or child
- Loss of benefits, etc.
If you have been injured in a car accident that you believe may have been your fault, you do not have to accept an insurance company's determination. Insurance companies may often attempt to pin the blame on you so they can minimize the payout or eliminate it completely. For example, in one case where our client was injured in a car versus truck accident in which his wife was the driver, we were able to obtain $2,550,000 in compensation. A judge ruled that our client's wife was 100 percent responsible for causing the accident. Since our injured person in this case was prohibited from recovering against his wife, we sued the truck owner and driver. Despite the judge's ruling that the truck owner and driver were not even 1 percent at fault, we were able to get the trucking firm's insurance company to settle for $2,500,000 and the insurance company for the car in which our client was a passenger to offer the full $50,000 policy.
Every case is different and there are a number of legal options available for injured victims of car accidents. If the insurance company provides you with a fair settlement, going to court may not be necessary. However, if the insurance company is stonewalling you or denying fair compensation, going to court may be the best option.
When someone is charged or cited for causing a car accident, he or she may face criminal charges. Their criminal case or citation may result in fines or jail time, but it will not result in compensation for victims and their families. A victim may have to file a personal injury claim in a civil case to hold the negligent driver accountable. Please remember that a personal injury lawsuit may be filed against the negligent party even if he or she does not face criminal charges.
Every case is different. You can, however, begin to estimate the potential value of your claim by calculating your damages and losses relating to the car accident. Keep records of your lost wages, your medical bills and damage to property such as loss of your vehicle. All of these types of losses can be included in a claim. What is perhaps more challenging to calculate is the value of your pain and suffering. Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship and emotional distress can be included in a claim as well.
It is advisable to immediately consult with a skilled New York car accident attorney who offers free initial consultations. Such a consultation will give you an opportunity to learn about your legal rights and options. You will need the services of an attorney if you suffered a serious injury, if the driver involved left the scene of the crash or if there is a disagreement regarding how the accident occurred. There are many reasons why it could prove useful to have a skilled injury lawyer guiding you through the legal proceedings.