Being involved in an accident can be scary and confusing. At some point in time it happens to most of us and it is important you understand your rights and responsibilities, otherwise it could cost you in the end. Here is some information to help:
- In a survey of 3800 people, it was found that one in three accidents occured between one and five miles from home.
- In addition, USA Today reported the National Safety Council estimated that in 2017, fatalities topped out at 40,000.
Although car manufacturers have improved safety with air bags and high-tech accident avoidance systems, critical issues remain, such as distracted driving, speeding and people who still don’t use seat belts.
“The first priority, obviously, is getting back to health,” said James Johnson, ESQ,, a personal injury attorney. “If you’re in an accident, however, it’s imperative to speak to your attorney immediately, since there may be a statute of limitations that can impact your case.”
FILING A CLAIM
Many people’s first action after an auto collision is to file a claim.
If you are not at fault, you will likely look to the other party’s insurance to repair your property and compensate you for any personal injuries that you’ve sustained. Don’t rush. If you have been injured, you will likely want to seek legal counsel before making any decision or providing any information to the insurance companies involved, including disclosing injuries sustained or providing a statement.
If you do decide to hire an attorney to help you thru the process, he or she will be your advocate and ensure your claims are handled appropriately.
WHEN YOU DO AND DON’T NEED AN ATTORNEY
Most auto collisions are minor in nature and all the parties involved suffer no substantial damage. In the event you are involved in a collision in which there is only property damage, you are unlikely to need the assistance of legal counsel.
The insurance companies involved will investigate the claims and decide if they will accept responsibility on behalf of their insured driver.
If liability is accepted by the other driver’s insurance, they will pay for the damages to your vehicle and any reasonable, related expenses you would not have incurred if the accident had not happened (rental expenses, bus fair, etc).
If the crash resulted in an injury, you will want to consider hiring an attorney that specializes in personal injury. Because injury claims are far more complex and involve both special and general damages, you may want to have a professional walk you thru the process. Unlike property damage claims where the cost to repair a broken windshield or scratched bumper is easily assessed, determining appropriate settlements for an injury are significantly more subjective.
Compensatory damages are damages paid to a plaintiff to compensate them for injuries and other financial and non-financial damages the occurred due to the negligence of another. These damages can include (but are not limited to) medical bills, lost wages, a negative lifestyle change (an avid runner that can no longer participate in marathons), loss of consortium (damages suffered by loved ones as a result of your injury), negative emotional impact, loss of opportunity or potential future losses as a result of the accident (a model that now has a facial scar).
“Because claims involving personal injury are complex, “ said Johnson, “ it’s always best to work with someone who can walk you through the process.”