Being in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. The resulting chaos, confusion, and flood of emotions can keep you from thinking clearly. Being prepared ahead of time can help you take the necessary steps to protect your physical and financial health if you do experience a car accident. There are certain legal steps you’ll need to take in order to resolve the situation. Here are some tips regarding the car accident legal process.
Immediately after an accident, the first steps you want to take in the car accident legal process are to check for injuries and contact the authorities. Take photos of any vehicle damage or personal injuries, as well as anything else that could be presented as evidence. Ask for a police report to be filed and do not admit any responsibility for causing the accident. After exchanging insurance information, you should seek immediate treatment for any injuries you have sustained. Contact your insurance company to file a claim.
Seeking medical attention at a hospital or rehabilitation center immediately is critical for seeking compensation for your medical bills and vehicle damage. You should keep seeking treatment throughout the car accident legal process until your injuries are fully healed. After an accident, the insurance company from the other party may try to contact you to get a statement. It’s best to not provide them with any information because they can try to use it against you. Simply ask them to speak to your lawyer if they need any information.
Filing an Insurance Claim
An integral part of the car accident legal process is filing an insurance claim. Your insurance company can help you pay for your medical expenses and to get your car fixed depending on your coverage. You will be asked several questions and may need to fill out a few forms. The other driver’s insurance company may try to contact you and ask for a written or recorded statement. It’s not in your best interest to provide them with one, as it can be used against you.
The other driver’s insurance company may try to get you to accept a small amount of compensation or have you sign a release. If you accept this money or sign any documents, you may not be able to reopen your claim. Your injuries could be more extensive than you realize and you won’t be able to receive compensation for them in the future. Always have your car accident attorney speak with the defendant’s attorney and insurance company to prevent any mistakes in your case. Let your insurance company know if another company tries to contact you.
How to Choose Your Legal Representation
If you suffered an injury, you may want to seek legal representation during the car accident legal process. Many insurance companies often deny claims or try to pay out as little as possible. Research attorneys in your area who are experienced in the car accident legal process. You should look for a lawyer that you feel comfortable with, such as one from a women owned law firm. Be sure to ask the lawyer plenty of questions before you sign any contracts to hire them.
When you meet with the lawyer, bring all your documentation with you. Provide the lawyer with a copy of the police report, pictures of the accident, medical reports, insurance correspondence, and contact information of the other parties involved. This information is crucial to begin the car accident legal process. It can help the attorney determine if you have a case and what compensation you may be entitled to receive. The attorney will review this information and recommend steps moving forward.
Organize Your Documents
During the car accident legal process, there can be an extensive amount of paperwork. You will need to keep track of the other driver’s contact and insurance information, medical reports, court documents, insurance paperwork, and more. You may be spending years collecting this information before you can reach a verdict with your case. Keeping your documents organized is crucial for being able to present your case in court. Always give copies of documents to other parties, including your lawyer, and keep the originals in a safe place.
Have a designated place to store these documents. You may want to use a file cabinet or accordion-style file folder and sort the documents into different files for easier access. Label each section so you know what is in it. Common file sections include correspondence, property damage, photographs, wage verification, reports, and medical bills and records. This can help you find what you need in case you are asked for a specific piece of information by your attorney or insurance company.
When filing documents, it’s a good idea to put them in order by the date they were received from most recent to oldest. You may also want to keep a calendar of all your appointments with your lawyer and doctor. Your calendar may also include times and dates when you were contacted by the insurance adjuster or your insurance company.
The car accident legal process can get expensive. If your financial circumstances are less than ideal, you may wish to seek out resources to help you pay for legal services and expenses. If it’s clear that the other driver was at fault, you may be able to hire a personal injury law firm on a contingency fee. This means that you don’t have to pay the lawyer until they win your case. If you win, the lawyer will take a certain percentage from your settlement.
If you committed a serious offense like a DUI that caused the accident, you may need an affordable bail bond service to help get you out of jail financially. Using a bail bond service company, you may be required to pay about 10% of your fees rather than a large amount. Your attorney may be able to recommend a reputable licensed bondsman to assist you. As for any medical bills you may receive, make sure that you have them sent directly to your insurance company. Keep any receipts for out-of-pocket expenses and make sure to give copies to your lawyer.
Have Your Car Repaired
After notifying your insurance company about the accident, you will want to get your car repaired as part of the car accident legal process. The auto shop will deal directly with your insurance company to pay for any repairs. Some companies will only accept repairs from body shops they approve. You may want to speak with your insurance company first to get recommendations before you have any work done. It may also be a good idea to get several estimates from different shops.
Depending on your coverage, the insurance company may pay for a car rental until the repairs are finished. You may be required by your insurance company to pay a deductible first before being approved. Be sure to keep copies of any estimates and receipts for the repair work. You should also take plenty of pictures of the damage before the repair work is done. These documents and photos can be given to your lawyer to be presented as evidence.
If You Were at Fault
There are a few things you should know in the car accident legal process if you happen to be at fault. You should never admit fault to anyone, including your own insurance company. Simply stay calm and state the facts from your point of view. Pull over immediately to a safe place and keep conversations to a minimum. Your insurance company may still cover you if you are at fault, depending on what coverage you have. Your rates may rise if your insurance company doesn’t offer accident forgiveness.
If you don’t have insurance at the time of the accident, you may get sued by the other driver. If the accident was deemed to be your fault, you may want to hire a criminal law attorney to defend you. You could potentially face criminal charges if you were driving under the influence or if someone was severely injured. A lawyer will help you gather the evidence you need to defend yourself in court. They may also help you negotiate a settlement out of court or get your charges reduced.
If You Were Injured
Some people may envision a long drawn legal battle when it comes to the car accident legal process. However, approximately 95% of personal injury cases are settled out of court. Filing claims against the other driver’s insurance coverage can get complicated. If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you may need to use your own health insurance to cover medical expenses. If you do get a settlement in the case, you will have to pay back your insurance company.
An attorney can help you collect the medical evidence you need and navigate the insurance process. You may want to consider hiring an attorney who is experienced in the car accident legal process with your specific type of injury. For example, you may want to consult with a brain injury attorney if you suffered head trauma during the accident. It’s important to seek medical attention right away because there is a short timeframe for you to file a claim after an accident. Make sure to tell your doctor about all of your symptoms and follow through with all appointments.
If It Took Place at Work
If the car accident occurred while you were at your place of employment, you may be entitled to receive workers compensation. You must be able to prove you were in a vehicle for work-related purposes when the accident occurred. A workers compensation attorney can determine if the circumstances meet the eligibility requirements as part of the car accident legal process. You may be able to receive workers compensation even if you were at fault, as long as you weren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. You can receive compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Be sure to notify your employer immediately and file a workers compensation claim. If you sustained injuries, you can still file a claim against the driver for your medical expenses. If you file a workers compensation claim and one against the driver, your employer may have a lien against any compensation you receive. The employer will receive whatever amount they paid out in workers compensation from the amount you receive from the other driver. You may want to consult with an accident injury attorney to determine if this is the right decision for your situation.
How The Car Accident Legal Process Works in Short
The car accident legal process begins by your attorney filing a claim against the other driver with the court. This complaint is served to the defendant who then answers by either accepting or refuting the allegations. The defendant can make a counterclaim if they desire and try to shift the blame on you. Evidence is collected and presented to the court from both sides. If there are witnesses, they may be asked to provide a testimony of what happened.
The parties involved may then try to negotiate after the injured party has reached a point where they can no longer benefit from medical treatment. This is to ensure that you can receive the maximum amount of compensation for all your medical expenses. If the parties can’t negotiate a settlement, the case may then go to trial with or without a jury. Each side will present their evidence in front of a judge, and settlement negotiations may still occur. It may take months or years for a verdict to be reached depending on the circumstances.
Protecting yourself is crucial in order to get compensation for damages to yourself and your vehicle. Use these tips to successfully navigate the car accident legal process to protect yourself. You may not be able to prevent ever getting into an accident, but you can help minimize its effects on your life and wellbeing. Don’t wait until you get into an accident to find the legal assistance you need. Begin researching attorneys in your area today so you can know who to call should the need arise.