Every year there are approximately 6 million car accidents in the US, making it one of the most common sources of personal injury. Out of that total, almost 3,200,000 people are injured, and 41,000 lose their lives. Accidents involving cars, trucks, SUV’s and motorcycles are, in fact the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 6 and 27. Over 38% of car accident fatalities involved alcohol, and 63% of car accident fatalities were attributed to passengers who were not wearing a seat belt. In addition, the Federal government estimates that there were at least 10 million unreported accidents, and car accidents also account for the deaths of almost 5,000 pedestrians.
A car accident can have a tremendous physical and financial effect on people. Even in simple fender bender car accidents, an individual involved can suffer back and neck injuries that have a lasting adverse effect, along with pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, medical expenses and property damage. The financial effect is estimated at over $150 billion a year, but unfortunately many victims of a car accident never receive the full amount of damages to which they are entitled.
The major reason is that car accident victims to not know the value of their claim, and will accept the first offers that insurance companies make. It is advised to contact both a car accident attorney and a doctor following a car accident. Injuries sustained from a car accident, no matter how minor, can later end up causing aggravated pain and medical costs.
If you are involved in a car accident you need to first and foremost seek medical attention. Once you have done all you can to take care of yourself and other people involved, you should collect information from people or witnesses at the scene of the accident. Regardless of who is at fault your personal injury attorney will need this information to build a case for damages. You will need to note the driver’s license numbers and vehicle registration along with the names and addresses of vehicle passengers and bystanders who may have witnessed the accident. Also, make sure to record the names of any emergency personnel such as police officers or paramedics who respond to the scene.
In addition, pay close attention to the behavior of those involved. Does anyone seem intoxicated? Do the victims appear injured? What type of damage have the vehicles sustained? Are there any unusual facts or circumstances surrounding the accident? Did the accident occur in fog, rain or snow? Was traffic heavy or light? In general, while it may be difficult to stay focused in such a stressful situation, writing down your observations of the accident scene may help you prevail in any lawsuit that results from the accident.
You should refrain from making any type of statement or signing any papers without first consulting with a car accident attorney. Anything said at the time of the car accident can be used against you and disqualify potential car accident compensation. Car accident attorneys are able to understand the complexities involved with car accidents, including both legal and insurance matters. Determining who is at fault for a car accident can be difficult do to the many factors a car accident can involve. A car accident attorney has resources to quickly and effectively determine who the liable parties are. Even if someone involved in a car accident thinks that they are partly at fault for the car accident they may still be able to collect damages.
A car accident attorney can help prove liability by preserving evidence and interviewing witnesses; make sure you receive the proper medical care; help you understand the law, including the statutes of limitations; help you document your injuries properly so that you receive full compensation; and ensure that you receive the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled. In cases of malicious intent – such as if a company knowingly markets brakes it knows are defective and these brakes then cause injuries, car accident victims may be entitled to punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. A personal injury attorney can help determine which damages you are eligible for and can help you build an effective case. Insurance coverage for your accident will depend on the policy you have purchased. Keep in mind that there are many different types of coverage available, and each type offers its own benefits. For example, comprehensive coverage covers your vehicle in the event of fire, theft, vandalism, and acts of nature, while collision coverage covers your vehicle in the event of an auto accident. Your insurance carrier or a personal injury lawyer can help you understand the policies you have and explain what these policies entitle you to.
Regardless of your coverage, your insurance company most certainly requires that you contact one of its representatives immediately following an auto accident. If you don’t report an accident to the company in a timely manner, it may try to deny coverage for the accident. In addition to contacting your insurance company, you should also file a police report if
1) you are injured or
2) if damages to either your vehicle or the other party’s exceed a certain amount (be aware that this amount varied from state to state but typically falls between $200 and $500).
Also, be sure that any injuries you incurred receive proper follow-up care. A personal injury attorney can inform you of your particular state’s laws regarding auto accidents. Liability laws vary from state to state. About half of all U.S. states have adopted no-fault liability laws, which make everyone involved in a car accident responsible for his own damages.
However, most of these states allow exceptions to these laws, namely if a person sustains a serious personal injury or if property damage exceeds a specific amount. The remaining half of states has instated at-fault liability laws, which require the party responsible for the car accident to pay damages for all those involved.