As the leading cause of personal injury and fatality incidents in America, motor vehicle accidents can involve a variety of situations. Car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents are some of the more common forms of road traffic collisions. In addition, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents involving automobiles also routinely occur. In order to ensure that you are well-informed about your rights to compensation, our experienced attorneys from Shook & Stone have compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about motor vehicle accidents and personal injury claims.
What should I do when I am involved and / or injured in a motor vehicle accident?
Most importantly, all injured parties should seek immediate or emergency medical attention if their injuries require it. You should also obtain as much information as possible from all the parties involved, including driver license information, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. If witnesses, bystanders, or drivers of other vehicles have come to help, you should also obtain their information. Taking pictures at the scene and writing down the events of the accident while it is still fresh in your mind is also a wise decision.
Should I see a doctor even if I don’t feel seriously injured?
It is always recommended that you see a doctor after being in a car accident. Often times, there are many injuries that do not become apparent until days or weeks later. Some of these can include whiplash, which can seriously damage the neck and spinal cord, and head trauma, which can lead to serious brain injury if not properly handled. Make sure that you report any type of discomfort to your physician, no matter how minor. In addition to giving you a proper medical examination, a doctor can also help you determine the exact amount of your bodily damages, which you will need to submit to the insurance company in order to get compensated.
Should I contact the police?
Yes. Even if the injuries involved were not serious enough to necessitate emergency medical attention, it is always important to contact emergency services or law enforcement agencies after an accident. Having an objective and reputable third party to collect statements and to assess the situation is always beneficial. In the event that drunk driving was involved, law enforcement agencies can take the necessary actions.
How does a personal injury claim work with motor vehicle accidents?
A personal injury claim must establish two main elements: 1) your injury was the direct result of the motor vehicle accident, and 2) the accident was caused by another’s fault, negligence, or carelessness. An attorney from Shook & Stone can evaluate your case to determine the extent of negligence involved and how you may benefit from a personal injury claim.
If I was not at fault, how will compensation be determined?
Compensation will be awarded in three separate categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic damages will include any medical bills you incurred as the result of your injuries and the lost wages or any loss of future earnings if your injury prevented you from working. Non-economic damages are the emotional damages you suffered, which can include compensation for your pain, emotional trauma, and any loss in the quality or enjoyment of life that you may have experienced. Punitive damages may be awarded in certain cases to further punish the negligence of those at fault. Cases involving drunk drivers or distracted drivers often award punitive damages.
What should I do if the other driver leaves the scene of the accident?
If a driver has hit your car and left the scene of the accident, then this is called a hit-and-run. Drivers are required by law to get out of their car and exchange information in the event of a collision. If a driver has hit a parked car, they are still required to leave a note with their contact information.
You should try to get the license plate number, and the make and model of the vehicle, even if it is only partial information. A description of the driver can also be helpful. If you are unable to provide this, then a lawyer from our firm may still be able to help you get compensated with Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists’ insurance (UM/UIM). In most states, UM/UIM insurance comes with any basic package. To see if you already have this type of insurance, contact your insurance agent.
If the other driver’s insurance company contacts me, what should I tell them?
If the insurance company of the other driver gets a hold of you, you are not required by law to answer any of their questions. In fact, you should wait until talking to one of our lawyers before you give any statements because whatever you say can be used against you. Insurance companies often try to deceive accident victims into saying something that will cause them to be liable for something that wasn’t their fault. We recommend that you give them our name and contact information, and advise them to speak with us.
If I had to take time off of work, will I be able to get reimbursed?
If you’ve had to take sick days, vacation days, or lost benefits to recover from your accident, then you should absolutely get compensated for your losses. Once we help you prove the driver is at fault, you will most likely be able to get reimbursed. If you have injuries that have permanently prevented you from working, or lessened your earning capacity, then you may also be entitled to those losses. Be sure to keep careful record of any time that you have missed or will miss from work through time sheets, pay stubs or any other form of documentation that would indicate you have lost earnings from this accident.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Federal and state law does not require injured victims to have legal representation when filing a personal injury claim, but having an experienced and qualified attorney on your side can make the difference between being short-changed by unfair insurance settlements and receiving the compensation you deserve.
How much will it cost to talk to an attorney from your firm about my accident?
Not only will we give you a free initial consultation, but our firm will not charge you a cent until you win. You will not be charged anything up front, and we will only receive a percentage of your total winnings when you are awarded compensation. We want to make sure that we are as invested in your case as you are.
Shook & Stone has recovered more than $500 million in compensation for our clients since first establishing the firm in 1997. With more than 85 years of combined experience and a legal team dedicated to providing compassionate support and knowledgeable legal assistance to victims injured in motor vehicle accidents, you can be confident that we know how to get you fair compensation. Motor vehicle accidents will always vary from case to case, and it is crucial to your favorable resolution that you have an attorney from our firm evaluate your personal circumstances. If you have more questions or if you wish to set up a free case evaluation, contact Shook & Stone today.