Why hire an attorney for a car accident?
Despite what you hear in the television commercials, you must understand that insurance companies are not on your side. Upon receiving a claim, an insurance company has two goals. First goal is to pay as little as possible to increase profits. The second goal is to engage in what’s called the “float,” which is a business strategy to delay payouts to buy the insurance company more time to use money you’re entitled to recover for their own investment purposes.
You may have never made a personal injury claim before and it is completely reasonable to expect your claim will be handled in a fair and impartial manner. The insurance company’s adjuster who speaks with you will even try to earn your trust with phrases such as “I’m so sorry this happened to you.” Don’t be fooled, this is a billion dollar industry that invests millions into the propaganda and psychology of minimizing settlements and delaying as much as possible. The last thing an insurance company wants is for you to go hire an attorney because they know you are easier to take advantage of without a professional on your side. The insurance company has entire teams of professionals working against you. To use an analogy, do not go into a boxing ring against a trained fighter unless you have the requisite training yourself.
By hiring an attorney, you will maximize your compensation and have an aggressive professional fighting to protect your rights. Haling Law stands ready to fight for you.
What to do first in a car accident?
1. Gather Evidence
If you are still at the scene of the accident, gather as much evidence you can. Photographs of the cars, the scene, driver’s license, insurance information etc. If there are any witnesses who pulled over or bystanders, don’t be afraid to approach them to ask if you can get their number as a witness to what occurred (you may be surprised how helpful people are upon being asked). Try to obtain a police report if feasible. If there are nearby businesses, check to see if they have security cameras that may have captured the accident (be aware, footage is usually deleted after 30 days).
2. Dealing with your car
If your vehicle is towed from the scene, find out what storage yard it will be stored in as the clock is running to move it from the storage yard (the yards will charge fees per day of storage). You have the right to choose a mechanic of your choice and should choose one yourself (an insurance recommended mechanic may have a conflict of interest to minimize repair estimates). Always make sure your mechanic is as thorough as possible (i.e. removing the rear bumper to examine for frame damage). If the car is a total loss, be aware that once salvaged it may lose precious evidence in the form of EDR data (the newest cars contain “black boxes” which store data about accidents). If liability is clear, the at-fault insurance carrier should provide a rental car of similar vehicle until the date of repair or upon payment of total loss.
3. Seek immediate medical care
Seek immediate medical care. Options include ambulance, emergency room, urgent care, primary care physician, or chiropractor. It is extremely important to see a medical professional as soon after the accident as possible. Insurance companies pay claims based on how strong the documentation is, and the strongest first step is seeing a medical professional as soon as possible. You must report any and all symptoms you noticed since the accident occurred, and stress that all symptoms started after an accident.
4. Skip talking to insurance, hire an attorney
An insurance company has invested millions of dollars in perfecting a system of minimizing how much they pay out. There is nothing an insurance company would love more after an accident than an unrepresented person calling them and speaking with them. The old saying is “what you say may be used against you” is 100% true.
Call an attorney as soon as possible and get a professional on your side. Haling Law provides free consultations.
Different types of Car Accident Claims
Car accidents, despite how unfortunately common they are, can be broken down into many categories. Each category requires special expertise and knowledge to properly handle. Below is a listing of many, but not all, of the different types of car accident claims Haling Law specializes in:
- Rear End accidents
- T-Bone accidents
- Highways accidents
- Trucking Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Hit and Runs
- Drunk Drivers
- Underinsured Motorist Claims
- Uninsured Motorist Claims
- Head on Collision
- Unsafe Lane Change
- Unsafe turn
- Dangerous Roadway conditions
- Bus Accidents
- Public Entity (Police, Fire, City) vehicle accidents
- Uber or Lyft Accidents
Common Injuries from Car Accidents
A wide variety of injuries are possible from car accidents. Each person’s body is unique and despite all the science involved in testing cars for accident safety, re-creating the exact physics of every single possible accident scenario is not feasible. Below is a listing of the most common injuries, but by no means does this mean that an uncommon injury cannot occur from an accident:
Most common in rear-end accidents, the force of whiplash can cause damage to the tissue, the discs, the nerves, and even the bones compromising the neck’s spine. Injuries can range from the less severe muscle soreness to the more serious disc injuries or even fractures. Significant injuries can include conservative care, pain management, or cervical (neck) disc replacement, fusion or discectomy.
More common in side impacts than rear-end accidents (although can still occur in rear-end accidents), these injuries range from damage to muscle and tissue, the lumbar discs, the nerves, or even the bones comprising the back’s spine. Significant injuries can include conservative care, pain management, or lumbar (back) disc replacement, fusion or discectomy.
Head and Traumatic Brain Injuries
People are becoming more aware of how dangerous head trauma and brain injuries can be. A lingering concussion can cause headaches, memory problems, depression and many other symptoms for months or even years after an accident. Brain injuries are difficult to diagnose as a person may not be fully aware of how injured they are as the result of mental fogginess and confusion. These types of injuries can ruin personal lives and careers.
Ligament Tears or other Tissue Tears
During an accident, the force of thousands of pounds crashing into you at high speeds is not something the human body is designed to endure. The force exerted on a person in an accident can exceed the amount of force a ligament, tendon, or other tissue can handle and a tearing occurs. Sometimes the tearing is not noticeable at first, but like nylon the tear becomes worse over time. Surgical intervention is often required or the injury will simply become worse as time goes by.
A forceful accident combined with a seat belt trying to save your life can result in fractured ribs. Also, arms and legs may suddenly be sent forcefully into impact with parts of your car shattering a bone in an arm or leg. Treatment can range from conservative casting or interventional surgery with installation of medical hardware. Sometimes joints themselves require surgical replacement. The resulting injuries can put you at risk long past the end of treatment as you are increasingly at risk of arthritis or other complications down the road.
What type of compensation can I recover from a car accident?
Damages in a case is typically split into two separate legal categories: Special Damages and General Damages. Special Damages consist of items such as medical bills, future medical care, out of pocket loss, lost wages, loss of earnings, loss of future earnings, etc. Think of Special Damages as anything that you can assign a number for, show documentation of the dollar amount, or have a receipt. Even if your health insurance paid the bill or an employer paid your sick time, these are damages you are still entitled to recover. General damages is also labeled as pain and suffering, this is about the actual pain you felt or continue to feel, the impact on your life, the damage of relationships that medical problems can cause, the additional stress, the loss of enjoyment in your favorite activities etc.