If you’re involved in an auto accident, while you should report it to your insurer and the responsible party’s insurer, it is wise not to provide too much information until you have discussed the case with an attorney. Initially, providing basic information such as date, time, location and some very basic facts about the case is appropriate. However you should avoid giving any recorded statements or discussing any specifics about your injuries until you have spoken with a car accident attorney–which you should do immediately.
Other Services an Attorney Can Provide After an AccidentIn addition to providing general advice and protecting you, a lawyer can help with every other step of your insurance claim or lawsuit. The lawyer can provide advice that allows you to decide: Do I pursue an insurance claim or seek compensation through a civil lawsuit? In either case, a personal injury lawyer will generally:
- Investigate the cause of your accident: Accidents happen for a specific reason or multiple reasons. An attorney will determine what those reasons are. Driver error is the most frequent cause of accidents.
- Gather evidence: A lawyer should collect any useful evidence for your case. Footage of the accident, photographs of the scene, and the police report are three types of evidence an attorney will obtain, if available.
- Interview witnesses: Witness accounts are key to many motor vehicle accident cases. Identifying and interviewing unbiased witnesses can be critical to your case.
- File your lawsuit or claim: The lawyer and their team will handle all paperwork for your case, including drafting and filing the lawsuit or claim.
- Negotiate a settlement: Lawyers will negotiate on your behalf with the other party or the insurance carrier to attempt to resolve the case fairly. This can happen before filing a lawsuit or during the course of litigation.
- Take your lawsuit to trial: If necessary, your attorney should be prepared to take your case to trial. Trials are far less common than settlements in civil cases, including motor vehicle accident cases.
How Will a Lawyer Determine Whether an Insurance Claim or Lawsuit Is the Right Action for Me?Most personal injury lawyers have handled many motor vehicle accident cases. They can assess fairly quickly whether you should pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit. Some factors that your lawyer may consider are:
- Whether the at-fault motorist has insurance coverage
- How much insurance coverage is available to recover
- Whether the responsible party has assets or resources beyond the insurance policy
- Whether you have Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverage
Recoverable Damages for Victims of Motor Vehicle AccidentsMotor vehicle accident victims can suffer a variety of different losses, called “damages.” Recoverable damages may include:
- Property damage: Property damage is usually a given when vehicles collide. In addition to your vehicle, damaged property may include your phone, dash camera, sunglasses, jewelry, clothing, and other valuables.
- Medical expenses: All accident-related medical expenses may qualify as recoverable damages.
- Pain and suffering: Any lost quality of life, emotional anguish, injury pain, and other forms of pain and suffering are recoverable.
- Professional losses: Motor vehicle accidents can result in injury, which can mean a significant amount of time off from work. Recoverable damages may include lost income, lost earning capacity and missed opportunities for bonuses and promotions.