Few experiences create the mix of confusion, stress, and anxiety that results from a car accident. So much happens in the moments and days that follow a collision, and amidst the chaos of it all, you have to make significant decisions that can affect you for years to come.
What you do at the scene of the accident and the days after can dramatically affect your ability to recover compensation for your damages. Figuring out the right course of action can overwhelm a person on the best of days—never mind a person who suffers from the pain of their injuries and the anxiety of how they will pay for the expenses headed their way.
The good news is, if another party’s negligence caused your car accident, you should not have to worry about bearing the burden of these costs. A car accident lawyer can explain your legal rights and options for how to recover your losses.
Shaw Legal Solutions does not shy away from tough cases. We have offices in many states, and we are ready to help you with your claim. We charge you only when and if you receive compensation, and your initial consultation is free. Call us today at (425) 214-4946.
What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
Stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of the accident could qualify you as a hit-and-run driver. If an individual suffered injuries or death from the collision, and you leave the scene, you risk facing criminal charges and serious penalties.
Instead, if your physical condition permits, check on the other people involved in the accident. If someone needs medical help, call 911. Do not move any individual who expresses they experience back or neck pain, unless a hazard exists that puts the person in imminent danger.
Call the police so they will send someone out to write and file a police report. You will need this report later when you file your insurance claim.
You should exchange basic information (your name, driver’s license number, insurance information, and license plate number) with other parties. Behave in a polite and civil manner, but do not say you are sorry or express any knowledge of wrongdoing on your behalf, as doing so will lay the groundwork for your legal liability.
If possible, talk to witnesses about what they saw and get their names and contact information so your lawyer can later talk to them about what happened and use their accounts to build your case for compensation.
Call your insurance company and give them the basic facts of the incident. Cooperate and be truthful; otherwise, they could later deny your claim.
You can also call a lawyer, especially if you suffered an injury in the car accident. Some personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations.
How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
Many factors can enter into the determination of fault for a car accident; however, when certain elements prove to be true, the question of who bears the fault becomes easier to answer.
If One Party Violates a Traffic Law
Traffic laws vary from one state or locality to another. A lawyer can review the events the lead up to your car accident and let you know whether someone broke the rules of the road. Many laws remain consistent across locales, and you will easily identify when someone violates them. Examples include running a stop sign or red light, driving over the speed limit, or driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Although not true 100-percent of the time, the fault for rear-end collisions usually lies with the rear driver. Most laws support the rule of leaving several car lengths between a driver and the car in front of them. This distance gives the rear driver ample time to the lead driver’s sudden braking or stopping. However, if the lead driver failed to maintain their brake lights, giving the rear driver no warning of a stop or brake, insurers may find the lead driver—at least partially—at fault.
Often, the damage done to the vehicles in a car accident tells the story of how the collision occurred—and who holds the blame.
Police Accident Report
The investigating law enforcement officer will officially note in their report any traffic violations that occurred before the accident, as well as the officer’s opinion on what caused the crash. The police reports weigh heavily in an insurer’s assessment of fault. If the police do not show up, call the nearest police station to have someone come out. Be sure to check the report for any inaccuracies.
What Happens if I am At Fault for a Car Accident?
If you cause a car accident, this may or may not impact your ability to collect compensation, depending on the state where you live. In so-called “fault” states, the individual who caused the accident assumes liability, which usually means their insurance company pays for damages. In “no-fault” states, the injured party seeks compensation from their own insurance provider via the policyholder’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, even if they caused the collision. PIP coverage will pay for your medical expenses and select economic losses.
As the at-fault party in a car accident, the other parties involved in the collision might file a third-party claim against your insurance auto liability policy. Even in no-fault states, the other parties may demand that your insurer cover damages that exceed their own PIP coverage.
Some states follow comparative negligence rules that can affect how much you are able to recover when you share some fault for a car accident. Under a “pure comparative negligence” doctrine, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your responsibility for the collision. In states that implement “modified comparative negligence” rules, you will receive any compensation if you are deemed to be 50 percent or more at fault for the crash.
Still, other states follow contributory negligence rules where you will be barred from any recoverable damages if the jury finds that your fault for the accident is one percent or higher.
How Is Fault Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident?
Multi-vehicle accidents can prove particularly tricky when it comes to determining fault. The chain reaction began with one vehicle rear-ending another vehicle. The rear driver’s fault may solve itself rather easily. But what if the driver that the rear driver hits then collides with the next driver?
Generally, the first driver whose actions served as the catalyst still bears responsibility. If the second driver positioned their car too close to the third driver, thereby enabling that collision, the second driver might also carry some responsibility for that segment of the multi-vehicle pile-up.
The more vehicles that enter into the chain-reaction accident, the more difficult it is to determine who was at fault—and to what extent. Typically, one must untangle this type of collision by pulling gently at various strings to find the collision of origin. Several sources can help with isolating each action, sequencing the order of the various crashes, and determining who was at fault.
Of course your account, as well as those of other passengers and motorists who witnessed the collision, factor into the task of determining who did what. Vehicle damage can offer an objective view of the events that transpired, as can skid marks, vehicle debris, and other evidence from the accident scene. Finally, the police report will contain valuable information regarding traffic law violations and other insights from the investigating law enforcement.
Can You Sue Someone for a Minor Car Accident?
You can sue the at-fault party, even after a minor car accident. However, accidents generally end in lawsuits only when at least one party suffers physical injuries and the insurance company either denies a third-party claim, or they refuse to agree to a fair settlement.
You can file a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy after a minor car accident. If you suffered only minor injuries that heal within a day or two, however, or if the crash caused only property damage, you might choose to try to settle the matter directly with the other driver and the insurance companies, without the help of an attorney.
Be aware, though, that car accidents tend to generate confusion. This, combined with the adrenaline your body generates from the incident, may mask signs of physical injuries. Keep in mind that just because you did not bleed, break a bone, or lose consciousness from the accident does not mean you did not suffer an injury.
Many types of injuries from car accidents do not immediately present themselves. For example, rear-end collisions represent a common cause of whiplash. According to Mayo Clinic, the pain from this type of soft tissue damage may worsen over the course of several days. If untreated, this injury can cause long-lasting complications.
To err on the side of caution, consider seeking medical attention right after your accident before deciding whether to take legal action against a negligent driver in a car crash. Your attorney can further advise you about your options.
If you feel uncertain about whether you can sue someone after your minor car accident, call Shaw Legal Solutions. We will review your case free of charge and advise you of your options: (425) 214-4946.
Can I Sue After a Car Accident if I Was not Hurt?
You can sue someone who causes a car accident that damages your vehicle or other property, even if you were not hurt. However, this action would not constitute a personal injury lawsuit. Rather, you would sue the at-fault party for damages to your vehicle and other property that the insurance company will not pay to repair or replace.
As with a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove the following:
- The other driver had a duty to obey traffic laws.
- The other driver breached this duty.
- This breach of duty caused the accident.
- The accident caused you to incur financial damages.
A car accident lawyer can help you in your effort to recover your losses by filing a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s auto insurance policy. Your attorney will:
Document your losses by collecting receipts, repair estimates, rental car costs, etc. Alert the other driver’s insurance company about the collision
Work with the insurance adjuster
The insurance company might respond with an agreement to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your motor vehicle. However, they might undervalue your claim and offer you much less than what you deserve.
In this case, your lawyer will begin negotiating with the adjuster to try to arrive at a fair settlement. If these negotiations do not end well, your lawyer can advise you about your options for filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver, and they can represent you in this effort should you decide to pursue it.
What Is Considered a Low Impact Car Accident?
In the context of a car accident, “low-impact” typically refers to a collision that happens at low speeds, yielding little to no property damage. As a term created by the insurance industry, the parameters for low impact have changed over the years. At one time, the industry’s idea of a “little” property damage meant one that required repairs costing $50 or less. Today, a low-impact collision can require repairs of just under $5,000.
Some insurance companies define low impact with little to no personal injury. By their logic, a crash that causes minimal (low impact) property damage can not inflict bodily injury to a human.
One may question the validity of this logic simply by considering the fact that auto manufacturers design and build cars to withstand the force of impact of another car traveling at low speeds. The same does not hold true for humans.
Research in this area supports a lack of correlation between bodily injury, the speed a car travels, and the damage a car takes on from a collision, according to a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics.
What Is a Fair Settlement for a Car Accident?
Many variables factor into calculating a settlement for a car accident. Hopefully, you can count on your lawyer to negotiate the best outcome for you—one that recovers your economic losses and your non-economic damages.
If you want to follow along and get a general grasp of what to expect, consider the dynamics at play:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost earnings
- Future lost income
- Estimated future medical expenses
- General damages multiplier
The multiplier for general damages is a number between 1.5 and 5 that is used to calculate your non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Because this type of damage is harder to quantify than special damages (economic losses, like medical expenses and lost income), the multiplier method can help assign a value to these losses.
The more severe, painful, and long-lasting you suffer from your car accident, the higher the multiplier. Multiply this number times the sum of your special damages to arrive at a ballpark figure for your settlement.
As you can imagine, the multiplier plays a significant role in the outcome of your settlement. Your lawyer will counter the insurance adjuster’s push for a low multiplier, presenting the full extent of your injuries and non-economic damages to get the highest multiplier possible for your given situation.
Do You Always Get a Settlement From a Car Accident?
You do not always get a settlement from a car accident, and this may happen for a number of reasons.
First, you should know that insurance companies generally want to settle. If they do not reach a settlement agreement with you, the insurance adjuster knows your lawyer will most likely file a personal injury lawsuit and take the matter to trial. If you win at trial, quite likely the insurance company will pay whatever the court awards you. For this reason, the insurers would rather settle with you rather than risk the outcome of a trial.
That said, the insurance adjuster must act in the best interest of the company when it offers you a settlement. Their first choice would be to deny your claim outright, perhaps by challenging their policyholder’s fault for the car accident. If they do not deny a claim, they may offer a settlement that does not fairly compensate you for your losses.
Some people act on their fear of walking away with nothing, and they accept the first settlement offer the insurance company proposes. In so doing, they eliminate any opportunity to go back to the insurer for more compensation when they realize the amount was not enough to cover their expenses.
When Should You Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Your first priority after a car accident is to ensure your health and safety. Depending on the apparent severity of your injuries, either call an ambulance to take you to the hospital where you can be treated or promptly arrange to see a doctor so they can thoroughly check you for injuries. You should also call the police department so a law enforcement officer can assess the accident and write and file a report that you can use in your pursuit of compensation.
If you or another person involved in the collision suffered a personal injury or motor vehicle damage—or if someone died as a result of the crash—strongly consider calling a car accident lawyer as a top priority following such a collision.
The sooner you bring a lawyer on, the more access you give them to critical evidence, including photos of the accident scene, witnesses with a clear recollection of the events leading to the collision, and so on. You also give your attorney more time to build your claim or case—an important consideration given the statutes of limitations that will later come into play.
Things happen quickly after a car accident. Having a lawyer by your side early on will help you make sound choices, relieve you of the stress of how to respond to insurers, and manage the matter for you from top to bottom, so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Remember, Shaw Legal Solutions charges you nothing for your initial consultation. Call us today so we can talk to you about your case and inform you of your options for moving forward: (425) 214-4946.
How Long After a Car Accident Can Symptoms Appear?
In the case of many medical emergencies, symptoms will appear immediately. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, the following warning signs indicate the need for immediate help:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Vomiting or coughing blood
- Chest pain that endures for at least two minutes
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Severe or sudden pain
- Sudden weakness or dizziness
- Sudden change in vision
- Change in mental status
- Persistent or severe diarrhea or vomiting
In the event that any of the above signs present themselves, emergency actions must be taken, whether this means calling 911, performing CPR, or applying direct pressure to a wound.
Other signs and symptoms may not seem so serious, but they should be assessed. For example, nausea or abdominal pain may result from a seatbelt tightening around your stomach during the collision. At the very least, this may cause bruising, but in worse scenarios, such pain may indicate internal bleeding.
If you experience a ringing in your ears (a condition known as tinnitus), you might dismiss the symptom as resulting from the loud noise of the crash. While possible, tinnitus can also result from a concussion.
Other types of injuries may present only minor symptoms, but they gradually worsen over the course of the next few hours, days, or even weeks. Still, other symptoms do not manifest at all right after the accident but may appear days or weeks later.
Can Car Accident Injuries Be Delayed?
Several factors influence the delay of a car accident injury—or the symptoms of such an injury. One cannot understate the impact of the overall chaos that follows a car accident. The sheer shock of the event is followed by a single-minded preoccupation with working through the situation. You may be worried about assessing damage or checking passengers and other drivers to make sure they do not need your help.
From a physiological perspective, your ability to sense symptoms—even pain—suffers from the effects of adrenaline.
How Long Does Pain Last After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, your pain will likely increase in intensity over the course of the following hours—even days. Some of the pain stems from swelling resulting from the trauma of the collision and may indicate you have suffered a pulled muscle, soft-tissue damage, or a sprain, among other injuries. As the affected area swells, you will experience pain or stiffness, the full effect of which could take hours or days to reach.
The same holds true for bruising, which results from capillary damage. Bruising creates a painful tenderness, and you may not feel the extent of the damage for days, as it takes the blood from damaged capillaries a while to reach your skin’s surface. Bruising may also result from damage to an internal organ and should be checked by a physician. If you feel pain or see bruising in the abdominal area, make sure a doctor rules out internal bleeding.
Headaches can come on strong after an accident, or you might not feel it until the next day or days later. This pain may result from your anxiety over the collision, but it may also indicate a concussion, whiplash, or traumatic brain injury.
You might also experience pain in your back, shoulder, and/or neck, which can stem from damage to tissue or nerves or injury to muscles, tendons, or joints. According to Medline Plus, even a minor injury can damage your spinal cord. A physician can isolate the source of your pain and treat problems that require immediate attention before they cause further complications.
Do You Have To Go to Court for a Car Accident?
Some car accident cases do not go to trial. Typically, they settle as personal injury claims before you even have to consider filing a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company denies your claim or refuses to agree to a fair settlement, your lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit so a court can decide your award.
This is why your attorney will prepare your claim as though it were a case going to trial. They will gather evidence and use their knowledge of the law to show the insurer that you do have a case that could win in court.
Insurance companies do not want to risk the outcome of a trial. They will evaluate the evidence your lawyer has obtained and check the overall presentation of facts. The more solid they assess your case to be, the more likely they are to work out a settlement.
There are law firms that work to get you fair settlement for your case. If the insurance company insists on a low settlement offer, this type of firm will not hesitate to file a lawsuit and litigate at trial for the award you deserve.
What Is the Average Time for a Car Accident Settlement?
A car accident claim can take anywhere between a couple of months to several years to settle. Although you should generally count on at least two months from the time you file your claim, the amount of time your settlement takes depends on several factors.
For starters, your lawyer will need time to gather compelling evidence to support your claim. If you live in a state that follows contributory or comparative negligence doctrine, then your attorney must devote special attention to proving that the other driver caused the accident.
Keep in mind, too, that part of the evidence your lawyer must collect to support your damages depends on the extent of your injuries. If you have not yet fully recovered from your accident-caused injuries, your attorney cannot accurately represent the losses you suffered. This is why your lawyer must wait for you to reach the maximum medical improvement (MMI) before they can accurately calculate the value of your case.
Of course, the insurance company might contact you and give you the impression it is ready to offer a quick and easy settlement. Just know that the amount they are offering is well below the value of your case. Similarly, if the insurer anticipates your claim holds the potential for a large payout, the adjuster will want to slow down the settlement process, in hopes that you will accept a lower settlement offer.
A car accident lawyer will know how to handle these stall tactics and hold bad-faith insurers accountable for their actions. Call Shaw Legal Solutions today at (425) 214-4946 for a free consultation.
How Much is Pain and Suffering Worth in a Car Accident?
Compensation for pain and suffering in a car accident falls under the category of non-economic (or “general”) damages. The Process of calculation for this type of damage requires something other than adding up receipts, as the loss represents something intangible.
First, you need to understand what pain and suffering compensation intends to accomplish. This type of compensation recognizes not only physical pain, but also emotional impact, like mental distress and anxiety, that result from an injury. Naturally, you will suffer the physical pain of, say, a broken limb. In addition, you might experience anxiety and stress that accompanies a loss of mobility that interferes with your ability to do all the things you once did in the course of a normal day.
Insurance companies can use a variety of methods, such as the multiplier method or the per diem method, to calculate your losses. Potential compensation for your pain and suffering depends on your specific case.
Is it Worth Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?
Different variables enter into any calculation of worth. The same holds true for hiring a lawyer. For a straightforward, simple case, one individual might find it excessive to hire an attorney. However, another person with the same case might decide they do not have the time to deal with all the intricacies of managing a claim, and they see value in hiring a lawyer so they can continue on with their job and other responsibilities.
Another accident victim might have the understanding of the case—and the time to pursue it—but they simply do not care to immerse themselves in all the legwork of gathering evidence or the stressful interactions and negotiations with the insurance company
The greatest value that comes from hiring a car accident lawyer, though, stems from their services. They can gather the necessary evidence and conduct an investigation into the accident for you. Furthermore, they can take care of communicating with the insurance companies. A lawyer can handle your case while you focus on your recovery and health.
Another factor to consider in any question of the “worth” of something is what you are putting into it. In the case of hiring a car accident lawyer, that value is nothing because you pay only when or if you win a settlement or court award with some firms. In other words, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer for a Minor Accident?
A minor accident can mean different things to different people. At its most basic sense in a car accident, a minor collision might consist of one in which you suffered no injuries. In this case, the insurance companies would enter into the picture, assess the repair estimates for your vehicle, and compensate you accordingly.
You do run a risk in this situation, though. As we have discussed previously, you may not be aware of injuries from your car accident for days following the incident. If the at-fault individual’s insurer calls you right after the collision and offers you a quick settlement offer based on your vehicle damage, you have no way of knowing whether you will later experience symptoms of physical injury. Once you accept the insurance company’s offer, you will be stuck with all the medical expenses and other related losses from this injury.
By hiring a lawyer for even a minor accident, you can steer clear of making these unfortunate decisions. At the very least, consider calling a law firm for an initial consultation. Most personal injury firms offer free case reviews, and they can inform you of your options for recovering your losses.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle collisions cost $242 billion when considering factors like lost workplace productivity, loss of life, and decreased quality of life because of accident-caused injuries.
No average estimate for a settlement exists because your accident, injuries, work, wages, and life, in general, differ from other accident victims—and all these variables factor into a settlement.
The real-world settlement value for your case depends on two things: your injuries and any limits the insurance company sets on paying your claim. The two factors coincide, and your lawyer will need to work both to get you the settlement you deserve.
Remember that the insurance company may use every means available to discount your damages or prove their policyholder was not at fault for the accident.
Your lawyer will have to gather and present compelling evidence of the severity of your injuries by obtaining medical bills for your treatment, hospitalization, emergency transportation, and prognosis for further care. They will also need to provide proof of your lost wages, as well as documentation to support non-economic damages.
What Damages Can I Collect for a Car Accident?
Damages for a car accident reflect how your accident-related injuries have impacted you. As such, many types of damages exist, and you can demand compensation for any type of damage that you can prove resulted from the collision.
Car accidents can generate a wide range of injuries, some minor, some severe. As we have discussed, not all injuries show up immediately after a collision. This makes it extremely important for you to undergo a medical examination right after your accident. To collect compensation for medical expenses, you will need to be able to prove that the injuries resulted from the crash, and medical records will help establish this fact.
Types of medical expenses you may collect include:
- Ambulance transportation
- Mobility devices
- Prescription medicines
- Medical treatment and surgeries
- Physical/cognitive therapy
This list represents only a sample of the types of medical expenses you may recover.
You might find yourself laid up in a hospital after your car accident, missing days, weeks, or months of work. You could also suffer long-term injuries that prevent you from performing the duties of your job indefinitely. If your injuries affect your ability to earn an income to any degree, you may recover these economic losses.
Pain and Suffering
As we have discussed, pain and suffering can take many forms, any of which may be compensable after a car accident.
Loss of Consortium
A spouse of an injured person can claim this type of damage, which relates to the injured individual’s loss of ability to show affection.
A car accident lawyer at Shaw Legal Solutions will calculate your damages and present a comprehensive account of your losses to the insurance company. Call us today at (425) 214-4946 for a free case review.
Will My Car Accident Lawyer Deal with the Insurance Companies for Me?
Your car accident lawyer will take the challenge of dealing with the insurance company off your shoulders, enabling you to focus on what matters most: your recovery.
Whether from fear or distaste, nobody likes the idea of dealing with insurance companies. An insurance adjuster’s knowledge of their own industry outmatches yours—even when you are in top health. Your reluctance to deal with them while you suffer from your physical injuries and emotional stress is understandable.
Even for the bolder individual, interactions with an insurance company can quickly turn sour. Insurers know exactly how to talk to you, what to ask, and how to prompt you to say something they will later use against you. Keep in mind, too, that the adjuster does not work alone. Just outside their office, they have access to teams of lawyers who will advise them in everything they do.
Having a lawyer to represent your best interest during interactions with the insurance companies may provide you with a tremendous relief. Rather than talk to the insurer after your accident, call a car accident lawyer and let them represent you from the very start. If the adjuster tries to contact you directly, simply refer them to your lawyer.
Your lawyer can establish productive communication with the insurer, which will dovetail nicely into the negotiation phase of your claim. At this stage, your attorney can handle all negotiations with the insurance company and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
How Is Pain and Suffering Calculated in a Car Accident Case?
Insurance companies have several methods for calculating the value of pain and suffering in a car accident claim. Some insurers use software programs that analyze various factors associated with your injury to determine the appropriate compensation. Other companies use the multiplier method.
Still, other insurance companies will apply the per diem method to calculate your pain and suffering. Simply put, the insurer takes the amount of income you earn in a single day and multiplies this figure by the number of days you endure pain from your accident-related injuries. If you make $300 a day, and you suffer pain for three weeks, your pain and suffering calculation would be $6,300, using the per diem method.
How Long Does A Car Accident Claim Take To Settle?
The time it takes for a car accident claim to settle depends entirely on the circumstances of the case and the insurance companies involved. Insurers must first investigate the accident and make an initial settlement offer if they believe liability rests with their driver.
They can deny a claim altogether, which would make the process even longer. You could choose to file a personal injury lawsuit if this happens, but those take time to resolve as well.
Can You Represent Yourself in a Car Accident Case?
From a legal standpoint, nothing prevents you from representing yourself in a car accident case. Just be certain you know what lies ahead.
If you have experience managing legal matters and knowledge of the law, can aggressively and effectively fight for your rights—and you suffered only minor injuries from the accident—you might consider taking on the matter of settling your case on your own.
One big problem you face, however, involves knowing with 100-percent certainty that you suffered only minor injuries. You might not get much of a fight from an insurance company to cover the expenses of what you assume to be a few, insignificant bruises. They could offer you a quick, no-fuss settlement, and you will be happy with how easily the whole matter resolved itself.
Consider, though, what happens if you later discover that the bruising appeared as a sign of serious damage to an internal organ. You now will have to bear the cost of potentially significant medical expenses, on top of missing time at work (income), and a host of other damages.
A lawyer knows all the possible traps you can fall into in a car accident case, and they can prevent you from falling into them and damaging your ability to recover all your damages.
A car accident lawyer knows how to fully calculate existing and future losses, including intangible, non-economic damages, to bundle in your demand letter to the insurer. A lawyer also has the knowledge and resources to build an evidence-back case, thereby blocking the insurance company’s attempts to deny a claim by questioning their policyholder’s fault in the accident.
What Questions Should I Ask My Car Accident Lawyer?
Do not underestimate the importance of finding the right car accident lawyer to handle your case. To some extent, you will decide based on what feels right.
That said, you should not choose your lawyer on personality alone.
Consider asking the following questions of any lawyer you are considering hiring:
Do I Have a Case?
A lawyer will listen to your description of the accident and tell you if the law favors your chances for recovering damages. You might also ask what types of damages you can claim in your accident.
How Long Has Your Firm Practiced Personal Injury in This State?
A lawyer might boast an impressive number of years practicing in another part of the country. Laws pertaining to car accidents differ from one state to the next. Consider a lawyer who shows a significant length of history practicing personal injury in your state. If they show substantial experience with car accidents, all the better for you.
How Are Your Fees Structured?
Most car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay legal fees only when and if they win a settlement or court award on your behalf. Confirm this is the case with the lawyer, then ask about expenses, like court-filing fees. Will you be billed upfront for these items, will you have to pay as they surface, or will the expenses be settled at the end of your case? If the latter, then does the lawyer include the expenses as part of their contingency fee?
What Information Does My Car Accident Lawyer Need from Me?
Your car accident lawyer will need multiple pieces of information and documentation in order to assess and build your case.
You will need to give your lawyer a copy of your auto insurance policy. If you do not have a copy of your policy, your lawyer can get it from your insurer. Your lawyer will also need to know that your insurance policy remains active, so you should provide recent statements or other evidence that you have paid your premiums.
Information From the Accident Scene
At the scene of the accident, you might have exchanged names and contact information with other people involved in the collision. Bring this information, along with any photos or videos you might have taken at the scene.
Copy of the Police Accident Report
When law enforcement shows up at the scene of an accident, they write an accident report that includes vital information, such as where the vehicles were situated. The officer will also document their beliefs about who or what caused the collision. If you do not have a copy of this report, your lawyer will be able to obtain a copy from the police department. If you were issued a traffic citation, give a copy to your lawyer, too.
Statements to the Insurance Company
You are not required to give the insurer a statement, but if you did give one, you have the right to receive a copy of that statement.
Medical records pertaining to any medical care you received will give your lawyer a perspective of your damages. Include any records of psychological care, too. If you do not have these records, give your lawyer the contact information for any medical providers you have seen related to accident injuries.
Your lawyer will need proof of earnings, both pre- and post-accident, if you need to recover lost wages.
What Happens if the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
If you live in a negligence state, your auto insurance personal injury protection (PIP) will cover your If you live in a fault state (where the at-fault party’s insurance company pays your damages), and the at-fault party does not have car insurance, you have two options to recover at least some of your losses.
First, you can file a claim against your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) if you have this coverage. Some states require UIM coverage, and other states require insurance companies to offer it. Your insurance company may restrict the amount of time you have to make an uninsured motorist claim, so you should move quickly after learning that the at-fault driver does not have insurance.
You can also file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover damages directly from them. Keep in mind that the type of person who does not carry auto insurance often does not have a lot of money or assets. This means that, even if a court awards you the damages you seek, you may have a difficult time collecting this compensation from the other driver.
If you do not know what to do after your car accident, call Shaw Legal Solutions. We will walk you through your legal options for pursuing the compensation you deserve: (425) 214-4946.
Who Can Be Sued in a Car Accident Case?
In a car accident case, you can sue anyone whose negligence caused the collision that caused you to suffer an injury.
A Negligent Driver
Another driver’s negligence can cause an accident in many ways. Consider these negligent behaviors, for example:
- Driving while distracted
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving aggressively
- Failing to yield right of way
If a driver’s negligence caused an accident while they were on the job (like a delivery truck driver, for example), they may be liable for damages under the principle of vicarious liability.
Vehicle or Part Manufacturer
Sometimes a faulty or defective car part causes another driver to lose control of their vehicle, causing an accident. In this case, you can sue the car or parts manufacturer.
Entity Responsible for Roads or for a Road Hazard
Improper maintenance of a road may fall under the responsibility of a municipality. If construction debris prompts an accident, the contractor could possibly be sued.
If a property owner fails to maintain their property or ignores a hazard (such as a tree that obstructs the view of a stop sign) that causes an accident, you may be able to sue the owner for damages.
What Should I Do in the Days Following a Car Accident?
The days that follow an accident give you important opportunities to document accident injuries and other losses.
Most importantly, for your health and for the benefit of your case, see a doctor. A physician will be able to check for injuries that commonly result from a car accident. They can treat your injuries to give you greater physical comfort and to avoid further complications. Your timing matters. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the harder it will be to prove that your injuries resulted from the car accident.
While you rest at home, consider organizing information that can help your case. Store any medical records and bills in a folder designated for your case. If you have the name of an insurance adjuster who will handle your claim, include this in your file, along with your claim number. You may also file away any contact information you collect from witnesses or other parties to the accident.
This is also a good time to reach out to a lawyer. Again, the sooner you do this, the better. Once you have a lawyer lined up, you do not have to worry about taking calls from the insurance company. You can just refer them to your attorney.
Either you or your lawyer needs to report the car accident to your own insurance company.
What Should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident?
By handling key items at the scene of a car accident, you can maintain safety, protect your rights, and help your future claim or case go more smoothly.
Stay at the Scene of the Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident could be construed as a hit and run. If another driver or passenger suffered an injury or dies, this could put you in serious legal trouble.
Handle Your Vehicle
Move it off the road, or to the side, but as close to the scene as possible. Put your hazards on.
If possible, exchange names, contact details, driver’s license number, vehicle make and model, and insurance information with other drivers and passengers.
Call the Police
Most states require that you report a car accident to the police. Call 911. When the police arrive, explain to them what happened. Only offer information of which you are certain. If the officer asks a question, and you do not know the answer, say so.
If possible, use your phone to snap photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any injuries.
Talk to Witnesses
Try to get an account of what happened from eyewitnesses. Be sure to collect their contact information.
Be Calm, Polite, and Reserved
For many people, it comes naturally to behave overly sympathetic after a car accident. While politeness can help to keep everyone calm, avoid apologizing or saying anything about your role in causing the accident.
Who Is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision?
Because drivers have a duty to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead of them, in most rear-end accidents, the rear driver assumes at least some of the negligence in most rear-end collisions. In instances where a driver must suddenly brake or stop—perhaps due to traffic or to avoid debris on the road, the driver that follows must have enough distance to stop without colliding into the lead car.
In some scenarios, however, the lead car in a rear-end collision also demonstrates negligence. For example, a driver may fail to maintain their brake lights, so when they step on their brakes, the rear driver does not realize until it is too late to avoid a crash. In other cases, a driver may suddenly reverse, or they decide to make a last-second turn.
If the lead driver experiences some type of car trouble, like a flat tire, and fails to pull over to the side of the road or to turn on their hazard lights, this also constitutes negligent behavior that plays a causal role in a rear-end collision that follows.
Depending on your state’s laws for comparative negligence and contributory negligence, if you played a partial role in your rear-end collision, it can affect your ability to recover compensation.
What Percentage Do Car Accident Lawyers Take?
Car accident lawyers who use the contingency fee model for payment can take between 33% and 40% of your settlement if you win your case, notes the American Bar Association. The association also explains that this fee is a fixed percentage that the attorney has agreed to accept.
This percentage is a guideline. Developments in your case and your case’s outcome could affect the final percentage. You can clarify with your lawyer the amount you will pay and ask any questions you have.
The contingency fee model allows an attorney to start work on your case, so no fees are charged upfront. It also gives clients their time back so that they can focus on recovering from their traffic accidents instead of trying to come up with the attorney’s fees ahead of time.
Even if you work with a law firm that uses a contingency fee model, you could pay some fees, so confirming this in advance can help you prepare for them. These can include paying court costs and fees associated with any experts who might be involved in establishing your case, such as investigators, expert witnesses, and others.
What Lawyer Deals with Car Accidents?
Lawyers who deal with car accidents typically focus on handling personal injury cases. Depending on your accident, you likely can find an attorney who could offer legal counsel in your specific situation.
These attorneys can take on cases in traffic accidents that involve a specific kind of vehicle, such as a commercial truck, a garbage truck, or a police vehicle.
They also can take on accident cases involving certain driving behaviors, such as aggressive driving or driving under the influence (DUI), or accidents involving drivers of a certain population, such as a teenage driver or an elderly driver.
They can also defend clients who have an accident affecting a specific part of a vehicle, such as a rear-end collision or side-impact (T-bone) accident.
While hiring an attorney is not required to pursue legal action in a car accident case, many people do because they find it easier to manage their case under a legal professional’s guidance. Having an attorney working on their behalf also allows them more time to focus on healing after their accident.
Lawyers who deal with car accidents help their clients prove who is responsible for the accident and help them build a case that supports their claims and compensation request. If the client receives financial recovery, it could help them pay their medical bills and other accident-related expenses.
What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
You have several options you can take to protect your rights after a car accident, such as seeking prompt medical treatment, filing a police report so that your accident is on record, and hiring an attorney should you choose to seek legal representation.
It can be challenging to know what to do next after you have been in a car accident. The first thing you should do is receive prompt medical treatment to find out if you have suffered any injuries. You can talk with law enforcement about what happened, and you can exchange insurance information with others involved in the accident.
You can also document the accident scene with photos and video footage and collect witnesses’ contact information. You might also want to take notes on what happened as you remember it. This could be used later when meeting with an attorney.
If you decide to seek legal action to hold the person who caused the accident responsible, then you can hire a lawyer who can advise of what you can do to protect your legal rights throughout the litigation process.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
How much it will cost to hire a car accident lawyer will depend on the attorney you choose to hire and what payment method they use. Many personal injury law firms that handle car accidents choose to bill clients for services rendered using a contingency model. These firms start work on the client’s case without collecting an upfront retainer fee or billing the client by the hour. Instead, they take a percentage of the financial award their client wins if their client’s case is successful.
It is important for clients to be clear on what percentage they can expect to be charged if they win their case. Ask any questions you have, including how any changes in your case, or your case’s outcome, will affect the final percentage. Some cases do settle out of court, which could change the fee your lawyer will bill you.
How Much Is a Rear-End Accident Worth?
Determining how much your rear-end accident is worth involves factors unique to your case, so there is no set figure to receive in these kinds of cases. Variables such as the damages you seek as well as the state where your car accident took place can affect the outcome of the financial award you receive if you win your case.
A lot can happen in a short time after a car accident happens, but once you have some time, you can think about your injuries, damages, and losses and think about what fair compensation would look like to you.
You can also hire a lawyer who can look over accident-related documents, such as a police report, bills for past and present medical care and therapies, or car repair bills, and others to help you calculate and determine how much your rear-end car accident could be worth. You can use the figure you come up with in the complaint you file with the court or a demand letter sent to the liable party or their legal representative.
Working with a legal professional might help you understand the other losses you could claim as part of your case. That understanding can guide you should you receive a settlement offer from an opposing party’s insurance company that falls short of what you need to pay your expenses. In that case, your attorney can negotiate with the insurer to get you a settlement that is more in line with your needs.
How Much Do Lawyers Charge for Car Accident Claims?
How much lawyers can charge for car accident claims is based on the business model they use to get paid. If you hire a lawyer or firm that charges contingency fees, then you can expect that it might request a fee ranging from 33% to 40% of the settlement you receive if you win your case.
However, these percentages serve only as a guideline. A percentage can change based on your case’s outcome, so you can discuss this with your attorney before agreeing to how your payment arrangement will work. You also can speak with your lawyer about the kinds of fees that will need to be paid in your specific case and what your financial responsibility is for paying those.
Make sure you are clear about how a lawyer will bill you for the services they provide before hiring them so that there are no surprises later.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
If you have been in a car accident and wish to file a lawsuit, you have only as long as the personal injury statute of limitations in your state allows. These laws vary across states, so you are advised to check your state’s statutes to see how long you have to pursue legal action.
If your accident happened in a state you do not live in, check that state’s statute of limitations. Many states generally allow two years or more for personal injury lawsuits, but some states, such as Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee, allow only one.
While a year or more is considerable time to pursue legal action in a car accident case, you are advised to start your legal action as soon as possible. If you hire an attorney, they will need time to build your case to establish liability in the accident and determine what damages you should seek when asking for compensation. They also need time to make sure your case is in before the deadline.
All parties interested in filing a complaint must do so with a court in their area before the personal injury statute of limitations expires. If you miss this deadline, you risk losing out on your opportunity to seek compensation in your case, and the liable party will not be responsible for paying any damages from the accident.
Can You Sue for a Rear-End Collision?
You can sue for a rear-end collision if you can prove that another individual’s negligence caused your accident. Understanding the role the other party had in causing the accident can help you build a solid case for recovering your damages.
Your evidence must clearly establish how the opposing party is liable for your injuries and losses. You can do this on your own or hire a car accident lawyer to gather evidence to help you establish your claims for compensation and calculate damages so that you will know what amount to seek.
Such evidence can include:
- Traffic accident reports
- Medical records
- Statements from others involved in the accident
- Eyewitness statements
- Photographs, video footage
If you choose to hire an attorney, they can look at the accident scene to help determine liability and build your case. Your lawyer can also help you negotiate with the liable parties or file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf if needed.
You will also need to establish the damages you suffered due to the rear-end collision and the reasons why you are seeking compensation. An attorney could enter negotiations with the liable party’s insurance company for a fair settlement on your behalf. They also could file a personal injury lawsuit for you if negotiations do not lead to a settlement agreement.
How Do I Find a Good Car Accident Lawyer?
You can find a good car accident lawyer by taking some time to figure out what you are looking for in your lawyer and what you hope to gain by working with them on your case. Asking friends and family is one way to get recommendations for attorneys who handle car accidents.
You can do an online search for law firms that have handled cases similar to yours. You also could look for attorneys whose legal backgrounds, qualifications, and results match what you are looking for. Once you find several options that seem like a good fit, you can schedule meetings so that you can interact with them or the law firms they represent to confirm which one you are comfortable with.
Many firms offer prospective clients a free consultation, which provides an opportunity to get acquainted with them and how they might help your case. During that time, you can receive legal advice and ask questions that can help you decide if hiring a car accident lawyer is the right decision for you.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
A car accident lawyer does several things to help clients who are seeking compensation in their personal injury case. Accident victims do not need to hire an attorney to represent them, but having one on board can help them manage their case, ensuring that important tasks are done correctly as they pursue legal action.
Car accident lawyers can do any of the following:
- Collect information about the accident.
- Establish who is responsible for the accident.
- Help clients build a case to support their claims.
- Handle all communications about the case.
- Work with insurance companies in negotiations.
- Seek fair compensation for accident victims’ damages.
- Represent clients in civil court if needed.
- Keep clients abreast of all developments in the case.
Attorneys who handle car accidents also explain all applicable laws to their clients so they can understand what is going on at all times.
It can be challenging to manage a car accident case on your own when trying to recover from injuries, too. While you are focused on recovering from your accident, an attorney can pursue financial awards that you might be due and ensure your case is filed within your state’s statute of limitations.
Let a Car Accident Lawyer Help You After Your Car Accident
You are coping with difficult times. It may seem today as though your car accident has taken over your life, but you can gain the upper hand in this situation and get your life back on track.
If another party’s negligence caused a car accident that resulted in your suffering injuries, you deserve to receive compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. The car accident lawyers at Shaw Legal Solutions stand ready to assist you in this effort. We do not shy away from a challenge, and we will fight to recover your losses.
More than anything, we want you to be able to rest and recover from your injuries. You can leave all the heavy lifting for your case to us. All you need to do is call for a free case review, and we will take things from there.
Remember that we work on a contingency fee basis, so you pay us only when and if we recover compensation from an insurance settlement or court award.
Call Shaw Legal Solutions today at (425) 214-4946 for a free consultation.