When you find yourself in a car accident, it can be frightening and leave you feeling confused and disoriented. It is important to take a moment, once the dust settles, and take stock of how you feel and whether or not you are injured. If you are hurt, or it appears that anyone else hurt, the first step is to call an ambulance.
As long as you are not seriously injured, the next step is to move your vehicle out of traffic if it is possible for you to do so safely, to avoid putting other drivers in danger. When you have addressed all immediate hazards, you can then call the police.
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, you can exchange information with the other driver, including name, address, and insurance information. Ask to take a picture of the other driver’s insurance document. Be sure to get contact information for any witnesses that saw the accident. It is also advisable to take photographs of the accident. Try to photograph all aspects of the scene that could be useful in examining the accident, including any obstructions, tire marks, injuries and any damage to the vehicles.
Speak to the police when they arrive and give an honest assessment of what happened for the accident report. Stick to the facts as you know them, but avoid taking the blame for the accident. Who was responsible will be decided by investigation of the facts, but it is best not to push the police towards a judgment that you were responsible.
At Meinhart, Smith & Manning, PLLC, our goal is to help injury victims. We understand that many potential clients do not have the resources to hire an attorney outright. Which is why we offer a free initial consultation and we provide our services to many clients on a contingency basis. This means that we only charge you if we win your case. You can use the money you won to pay our fee. If we choose to take on your case, we will negotiate a percentage of the recovery as our payment. The percentage may vary depending on how the lawsuit unfolds, such as if there is a settlement or a trial is necessary.
Our firm can also work with you for an hourly rate if you prefer. We are flexible and primarily interested in helping you win your case and get the compensation you need following your accident.
You need to speak to both the police and the other driver following the accident. The police need to know the facts of the accident for the police report, and the other driver needs your insurance information, just like you need his/hers. Staying calm, being respectful and sticking to the facts is the best policy.
Although you want to avoid making false statements – which could come back to haunt you later – you also do not need to give an elaborate account either. You want to give the police the information they need, but avoid taking the blame for the accident or accusing the other driver of being responsible. Remember, just the facts.
If the driver responsible for your accident does not have insurance, there are likely limits to what you can recover from the other driver. Unless the driver has significant assets, a lawsuit may not be effective. However, Kentucky requires you to carry no-fault insurance, which means that the first $10,000 of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses should be covered by your insurer following the accident. You may also be carrying uninsured motorists coverage, in which case your insurer should pay up to the amount specified in the policy following the accident.
Keep in mind that your insurer may resist paying you what you need, in which case legal action may still be necessary. Insurance companies can be uncooperative, and it may take hiring a lawyer to make your insurer take your claim seriously.
If you have been injured in an accident, the sooner you contact an attorney, the better. Even if you are not sure if you are injured, it can still be beneficial to talk to a legal professional and discuss the accident. An attorney can guide you through all the proper steps to protect your best interests, and prepare for a lawsuit if necessary. A car accident lawyer is your best adviser in how to protect your rights and avoid making potentially costly mistakes.
You need to contact your insurance company as soon as you have taken care of your immediate medical care, filed a police report and hopefully consulted an attorney. Failing to notify your insurer of an accident could be a violation of your policy and result in a loss of coverage.
If you have spoken to a lawyer before calling your insurance company, he or she will advise you to treat the insurer just like the police. You want to relate the facts surrounding the event, and avoid laying blame on the other driver or taking the blame yourself.
Talking to the other driver’s insurance company on your own is not a good idea. Even if the other driver was obviously responsible for the accident, his or her insurer will still want to avoid paying any more than necessary. The insurer may attempt to deceive you into implying that you were to blame for the accident, and it may work to encourage you to accept terms that are not in your favor. It is far better to let your lawyer field these questions.
One of the main benefits of pursuing a successful car accident lawsuit is that the damages you collect often cover the full range of losses you sustain from the accident – medical and otherwise. The fact that that you are forced to take sick time, vacation time and often use up all your available time and then some, all because another driver was careless, is not acceptable. A lawsuit allows you to demonstrate to the court that the accident has caused you significant financial harm and that you deserve to be compensated.
Car accidents can be extremely chaotic events, making it all but impossible for you to take an objective and clear view of what happened. It is normal for victims to worry that they were at least in part responsible for what happened. But the fact is, you are not well-equipped to determine blame in such a complicated situation. Deciphering what occurred in a car accident requires experienced investigators and in-depth analysis of a wide range of factors. It will require investigation by the police and your attorney to get to the bottom of what happened.
Even if the other driver was not responsible for the accident, there are still other possible causes that do not fall on you. Equipment may have malfunctioned. A defective airbag, or defective brakes, can easily lead to an accident. Or there may have possibly been an obstacle in the road that lead to the accident. These are causes that you may not have even been aware of before the accident occurred. Through the investigation, your attorney can determine if there were other causes for what happened.
While there is no requirement that you go to a doctor following a car accident, it is advisable that you do go – regardless of how you are feeling. Injuries can take time to show themselves, and it can be difficult to see the signs when you are the one that is injured. A doctor can verify that everything is OK and help you avoid making things worse. Equally important, going to the doctor produces records that can be extremely important in a case. If any injury is present or develops through subsequent visits, there will be records to prove it.
You can always depend on the insurance company to take care of a situation following an accident. It is what they do. But you should understand that, while they will take care of it, the solutions they create are rarely designed to benefit you. Insurance companies are in business to make money and, therefore, try to avoid paying any more than the have to. They will give you the minimum amount of compensation required by law.
When you hire an attorney, he or she comes at the situation with the intention of taking care of you as a client and ensuring that you get the maximum compensation for what occurred. An experienced car accident attorney has seen too many victims that wind up hurt and unable to pay for their medical bills, lost work and other expenses. That is why a good lawyer always works diligently to make sure the insurance company pays every penny that the client needs.
A lawsuit may not be necessary, but it is in your best interests to at least explore the possibly with an attorney before you accept the offer of the insurer.
If you have hired an attorney, you should refer the insurance company to your attorney. Your lawyer knows how to answer the sometimes tricky questions that the insurance company will ask, and can make sure that you don’t compromise yourself by saying something you did not really mean to say.
If you have not hired an attorney yet, you should avoid giving the insurance company any information about what happened at the accident or about your injuries. It is best to avoid saying anything and contact an attorney immediately following the phone call. You are not required to speak to the other insurance company, and anything you say can possibly be used against you later on.