When involved in a car accident, the aftermath can be confusing and overwhelming. You may have questions about insurance information, medical treatment, and options for recovery. FindLaw has compiled a list of frequently asked questions about car accidents and insurance claims to help you navigate these challenging circumstances.
Please note that this article offers general information, not legal advice. For advice tailored to your situation, contact a car accident lawyer.
What should I do immediately after a car accident?
Immediately after a car crash, you should ensure the safety of all involved, call the police, and seek medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor initially. Document the accident scene, gather contact information from all involved and any witnesses, and inform your own insurance company about the accident.
How do I prove the other driver is at fault?
An at-fault driver is usually determined by violation of traffic rules, eyewitness testimony, or evidence from the accident scene. A police report often helps establish who's at fault. Having a car accident attorney can be valuable to help you gather and present this evidence in your car accident case.
Should I accept the insurance company's settlement offer?
It's advisable to consult a personal injury lawyer before accepting any settlement offer. An initial offer, whether from the at-fault driver's insurance company or your own, might seem attractive, especially if you're facing mounting medical bills and other expenses. However, it may not fully cover all of your accident-related costs, and insurance companies tend to give lowball settlement offers as their first offer or when there is not an attorney involved.
The initial settlement offer may not take into account long-term medical expenses, future lost wages, or the full extent of property damage. In addition, non-economic damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life, are often overlooked in these initial offers.
When should I report the crash to my insurance company?
Report the auto accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, as per your insurance policy requirements. However, avoid giving extensive statements without first consulting your car accident attorney.
What if the other driver left the scene?
A hit-and-run accident can be distressing. After ensuring your safety and notifying the police, contact your insurance carrier. Your uninsured motorist coverage, if you have it, can help with medical bills and car repair costs if the other driver can't be identified.
What if someone else crashed my car?
If a family member or someone with your permission was driving and crashed your car, your auto insurance policy should cover the property damage and medical costs, depending on the extent of your coverage and the extent of any injuries.
However, the amount covered will be subject to the limits of your policy. If the cost of damages exceeds your policy limits, the driver's own auto insurance policy might serve as a secondary source of coverage.
It's also important to note that if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or if they didn't have your permission to drive the vehicle, the insurance company may dispute the claim.
Can I still get insurance money if I didn't wear my seat belt?
Even if you weren't wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident, you might still recover damages. However, your compensation may be reduced if the lack of seat belt use contributed to your injuries. Discuss your situation with a personal injury attorney.
What if the other driver said they didn't have insurance?
If the at-fault driver is uninsured, your uninsured motorist coverage can help. It can provide coverage for your bodily injury and, in some states, property damage.
Even with uninsured motorist coverage, you may face limits on what your insurance will cover, depending on your policy. Contact your insurance company and a car accident lawyer to explore your options.
What shouldn't I say after an accident?
Avoid admitting fault or making statements about the accident without consulting your lawyer, as these comments can be used against you. Also, don't agree to settlements without legal advice.
Here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Avoid Speculating: If you're unsure about something, it's better to say you don't know than to make a guess. Speculation about the accident or your injuries can potentially harm your claim.
- Be Wary of Providing Unnecessary Medical Information: Only share medical information related to the injuries from the accident. The insurance company does not need to know your full medical history.
- Don't Downplay Your Injuries: Often, the full extent of injuries is not immediately apparent after an accident. If you understate your injuries, it may affect the compensation you can claim later.
What should I do if I know the other driver?
Even if you know the other driver, accident victims should treat the situation like any other car accident. Ensure that proper procedures are followed. Seek the advice of your car accident attorney to protect your rights.
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?
This period, known as the statute of limitations, varies by state. In general, it is best to start the process as soon as possible after a car accident to ensure that all details and evidence are fresh. If you don't file a claim within the limitations period defined by your state's law, you will be barred from pursuing legal relief.
What is a wrongful death claim in a car accident case?
A wrongful death claim arises when a car accident results in the death of a loved one and the accident was caused by another's negligence or intentional wrongdoing. The surviving family members may seek compensation for lost income, loss of companionship, funeral expenses, and more.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is a payment agreement where the personal injury lawyer's fee is based on a percentage of the settlement or verdict that you receive. This means if you don't win your case, you generally won't have to pay any attorney's fees. Always make sure to discuss the details of the contingency fee agreement with your car accident lawyer before proceeding with your case.
How should I handle the insurance adjuster?
After a car accident, the at-fault party's insurance adjuster may contact you to discuss the accident and your bodily injuries. Remember, the insurance adjuster's job is to save their company money, which could mean minimizing your claim. It's recommended to direct any insurance adjuster to your car accident attorney, who will handle all communication and negotiation on your behalf to help ensure you receive fair compensation.
How does health insurance factor in a car accident case?
After a car accident, your health insurance may cover your medical expenses. This can include hospital stays, doctor visits, physical therapy, medical care, and more. However, your health insurance company may require reimbursement if you receive a settlement or award from the at-fault driver's insurance company. It's crucial to speak with a personal injury attorney to understand how your health insurance may impact your personal injury claim.
Why are medical records important in a car accident case?
Medical records play a pivotal role in a car accident case. They provide a detailed account of the extent of your injuries, treatments, and recovery, directly linking your injuries to the accident. These records help substantiate your claim, influencing the amount of compensation you may receive for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Your car accident attorney can help guide you on the process of obtaining and using these records effectively.
How does my own auto insurance come into play?
Depending on your insurance policy, your own auto insurance may cover certain costs regardless of who was at fault in the accident. This could include medical payments coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. It's crucial to understand your policy's details and how it can help in your car accident case. A personal injury attorney can help you understand your own insurance coverage and any potential claim.
What should I do if the other driver's insurance company contacts me?
If the other driver's insurance company contacts you, it's essential that you don't provide a recorded statement or accept any settlement offers without first consulting a car accident attorney. The insurance adjuster's job is to minimize their company's payout. They might attempt to downplay your injuries or pressure you into accepting a low settlement. Instead, direct them to your attorney, who will handle all communications on your behalf.
What should I do if my airbag didn't deploy during the accident?
Airbags are a critical safety feature in vehicles designed to protect occupants during a collision. However, there can be instances where they fail to deploy during a car accident.
Airbags not deploying can sometimes be due to a manufacturer's defect. In such cases, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer in addition to any personal injury claim related to the accident.
Have your vehicle inspected by a professional to determine why the airbags did not deploy. This can help establish whether it was a defect or the nature of the accident that caused the airbags not to deploy.
This collection of car accident FAQ is designed to answer general questions about car accident cases. If you have specific questions about a motor vehicle accident or require legal assistance, consider meeting with a car accident lawyer. Remember, every car accident claim is unique, and only a legal professional can provide advice tailored to your specific situation. Put the expertise of a personal injury lawyer to work for you and get the best outcome possible for your personal injury case.
Disclaimer: This article offers general information and is not intended as legal advice. Seek professional legal advice for specifics related to your accident injuries.