You are an alert and safe driver. When you get on the road, you prioritize the well-being of your passengers and fellow commuters. Not everyone is as careful as you. Indeed, some drivers are so dismissive of traffic laws and regulations that they should not even be on the road.
If you have been hurt in an accident caused by the recklessness, inattention, and negligence of another driver, then you have legal options.
What You Should Do after an Accident
However, before discussing the legal options available to you in the event of an auto accident injury, it is important to review what you should if you have been in a car crash in which there is no serious injury. You should take the following actions:
1. Check to ensure you and passengers are okay
If you were driving with others in the car, you should verify that they have not been seriously injured. You will need to feel your body for bleeding. This should be done straight away, as the sudden impact of a car crash can leave you numb to pain. It is important to verify that you do not have any broken bones or serious bleeding.
2. Call emergency services
You should call 911. You should do this even if you believe that someone else already has. The 911 operator will dispatch police, ambulance, and rescue vehicles to your location.
3. Exchange information
You should then check the condition of the other driver. If they are alright, you should exchange contact information and insurance details.
4. Photograph damage
You should then document as much of the damage to your car and of the scene as you can. This can be done by taking photos of your car and the crash scene from various angles.
5. Go to the emergency room
You should have yourself examined by a medical professional. Even if you are in no obvious pain, you should go to the emergency room and get checked out. The physician may find internal injuries that you could neither see nor feel.
6. Contact your insurance company and a lawyer
You will need to contact your insurer and tell them of the incident. But before you do so, you should contact a lawyer. A car accident lawyer will inform you of your rights so that you are not unjustly denied anything that you are entitled to.
It is a standing goal of insurance companies to pay out as little as they can. The insurance company of the person who hit you will have the same aim. You should make no commitments until your lawyer has had a chance to look at the settlement offer.
If your injuries were slight and the settlement package the insurance company offers you covers your expenses and financial losses, then it might be wise to take it. However, if you have been seriously injured, then you may need to ask for more money. And if they do not give it to you, then you will need to file a lawsuit.
The Financial Impact of a Car Accident
If your injuries are not light and they are serious or life-threatening, then you will need extensive medical care. You may need to be hospitalized for months, and you may need a barrage of tests and a series of invasive operations to make you well again. This will be followed by an extended period of physical rehabilitation.
When you are ready to go back to work, you may not be able to return full-time, which can put your job in jeopardy. Indeed, the accident may have been so bad that it has forced you out of your livelihood. In a worst case scenario, you may need to hire a full-time care professional and have a member of your family at home to supervise.
Such a life-altering situation can put tremendous stress on you and your loved ones. You should not have to bear the financial impact of a motor vehicle accident, caused by another, on your own.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
A car accident lawyer has the expertise and experience to handle your case. They will be able to gather the facts, introduce expert testimony, and bring the relevant bits of law to bear on the case.
Here are some specific actions that your lawyer will take:
1. Getting the facts
Your lawyer will begin their own investigation into the motor vehicle accident. They will hire private investigators to reassess the evidence and re-interview witnesses. Doing the latter can often lead to the uncovering of previously undisclosed facts. Some people refuse to speak to the police. They may have a history with law enforcement and the criminal justice system that makes them reticent to have any dealings with the authorities. They may not mind speaking to private investigators, however, which can work in your favor. There may also be someone who caught the crash on their cell phone camera. If this is the case, your lawyer will get hold of that footage.
The investigators will also take a hard look at the other driver. If they were driving while sending text messages, were too tired to get behind the wheel, or drove after consuming alcohol or drugs, the investigators will bring these facts to light.
2. Introducing expert witnesses
Your lawyer will also bring in forensic and medical experts. The dents, marks, and debris left by an accident tell a story of how it occurred. Your lawyer will bring in experts who are qualified to gather such evidence and develop a computer simulation based on it. Such accident simulations are admissible in court and may help establish who caused the accident.
Your lawyer will also have qualified medical experts write statements that explain the nature and cause of your injury. Such statements will include details on how the injury was caused and the debilitating effect it has had on your well-being and your ability to work. If the case goes to trial, your lawyer will summon experts who know how to explain medical concepts in plain and simple terms.
3. Using the law
Insurance companies prefer to avoid jury trials. They would much rather settle things out of court. However, to get the money you deserve, your lawyer will have to put together a case that compels them to give you fair and adequate compensation. Your lawyer will have to establish that the accident was due to the recklessness of the other driver, that it has caused you severe injuries, and that you are owed a specific dollar amount. Auto accident lawyers have the experience to put such a case together.