hello “Few experiences create the mix of confusion, stress, and anxiety that results from a car accident. So much happens in the moments and days that follow a collision, and amidst the chaos of it all, you have to make significant decisions that can affect you for years to come<<
What you do at the scene of the accident and the days after can dramatically affect your ability to recover compensation for your damages. Figuring out the right course of action can overwhelm a person on the best of days—never mind a person who suffers from the pain of their injuries and the anxiety of how they will pay for the expenses headed their way
The good news is, if another party’s negligence caused your car accident, you should not have to worry about bearing the burden of these costs. A car accident lawyer can explain your legal rights and options for how to recover your losses.
Ben Crump Law, PLLC does not shy away from tough cases. We have offices in many states, and we are ready to help you with your claim. We charge you only when and if you receive compensation, and your initial consultation is free. Call us today at (800) 598-7555.
Deductibles prevent people from making trivial claims or go in for unnecessary treatment and hospitalization just because they have insurance cover. Policies with high deductibles mean that you pay a lower premium which is a benefit for you over the years. You do not file unnecessary claims for small amounts and receive a No Claim bonus. The cumulative bonuses help to increase the coverage amount in the long run. The flip side of a deductible is your insurance cover is practically useless if your treatment costs do not exceed the minimum specified deductible. So, understand health insurance terms before you opt for cover from an insurer
What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
Stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of the accident could qualify you as a hit-and-run driver. If an individual suffered injuries or death from the collision, and you leave the scene, you risk facing criminal charges and serious penalties.
Instead, if your physical condition permits, check on the other people involved in the accident. If someone needs medical help, call 911. Do not move any individual who expresses they experience back or neck pain, unless a hazard exists that puts the person in imminent danger.
Call the police so they will send someone out to write and file a police report. You will need this report later when you file your insurance claim.
You should exchange basic information (your name, driver’s license number, insurance information, and license plate number) with other parties. Behave in a polite and civil manner, but do not say you are sorry or express any knowledge of wrongdoing on your behalf, as doing so will lay the groundwork for your legal liability.
If possible, talk to witnesses about what they saw and get their names and contact information so your lawyer can later talk to them about what happened and use their accounts to build your case for compensation.
Call your insurance company and give them the basic facts of the incident. Cooperate and be truthful; otherwise, they could later deny your claim.
You can also call a lawyer, especially if you suffered an injury in the car accident. Some personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations.
How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
Many factors can enter into the determination of fault for a car accident; however, when certain elements prove to be true, the question of who bears the fault becomes easier to answer.
If One Party Violates a Traffic Law
Traffic laws vary from one state or locality to another. A lawyer can review the events the lead up to your car accident and let you know whether someone broke the rules of the road. Many laws remain consistent across locales, and you will easily identify when someone violates them. Examples include running a stop sign or red light, driving over the speed limit, or driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Although not true 100-percent of the time, the fault for rear-end collisions usually lies with the rear driver. Most laws support the rule of leaving several car lengths between a driver and the car in front of them. This distance gives the rear driver ample time to the lead driver’s sudden braking or stopping. However, if the lead driver failed to maintain their brake lights, giving the rear driver no warning of a stop or brake, insurers may find the lead driver—at least partially—at fault.
Often, the damage done to the vehicles in a car accident tells the story of how the collision occurred—and who holds the blame.
Police Accident Report
The investigating law enforcement officer will officially note in their report any traffic violations that occurred before the accident, as well as the officer’s opinion on what caused the crash. The police reports weigh heavily in an insurer’s assessment of fault. If the police do not show up, call the nearest police station to have someone come out. Be sure to check the report for any inaccuracies.
What Happens if I am At Fault for a Car Accident?
If you cause a car accident, this may or may not impact your ability to collect compensation, depending on the state where you live. In so-called “fault” states, the individual who caused the accident assumes liability, which usually means their insurance company pays for damages. In “no-fault” states, the injured party seeks compensation from their own insurance provider via the policyholder’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, even if they caused the collision. PIP coverage will pay for your medical expenses and select economic losses.
As the at-fault party in a car accident, the other parties involved in the collision might file a third-party claim against your insurance auto liability policy. Even in no-fault states, the other parties may demand that your insurer cover damages that exceed their own PIP coverage.
Some states follow comparative negligence rules that can affect how much you are able to recover when you share some fault for a car accident. Under a “pure comparative negligence” doctrine, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of your responsibility for the collision. In states that implement “modified comparative negligence” rules, you will receive any compensation if you are deemed to be 50 percent or more at fault for the crash.
How Is Fault Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident?
Multi-vehicle accidents can prove particularly tricky when it comes to determining fault. The chain reaction began with one vehicle rear-ending another vehicle. The rear driver’s fault may solve itself rather easily. But what if the driver that the rear driver hits then collides with the next driver?
Generally, the first driver whose actions served as the catalyst still bears responsibility. If the second driver positioned their car too close to the third driver, thereby enabling that collision, the second driver might also carry some responsibility for that segment of the multi-vehicle pile-up.
The more vehicles that enter into the chain-reaction accident, the more difficult it is to determine who was at fault—and to what extent. Typically, one must untangle this type of collision by pulling gently at various strings to find the collision of origin. Several sources can help with isolating each action, sequencing the order of the various crashes, and determining who was at fault.
Of course your account, as well as those of other passengers and motorists who witnessed the collision, factor into the task of determining who did what. Vehicle damage can offer an objective view of the events that transpired, as can skid marks, vehicle debris, and other evidence from the accident scene. Finally, the police report will contain valuable information regarding traffic law violations and other insights from the investigating law enforcement.
Can You Sue Someone for a Minor Car Accident?
You can sue the at-fault party, even after a minor car accident. However, accidents generally end in lawsuits only when at least one party suffers physical injuries and the insurance company either denies a third-party claim, or they refuse to agree to a fair settlement.
You can file a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy after a minor car accident. If you suffered only minor injuries that heal within a day or two, however, or if the crash caused only property damage, you might choose to try to settle the matter directly with the other driver and the insurance companies, without the help of an attorney.
Be aware, though, that car accidents tend to generate confusion. This, combined with the adrenaline your body generates from the incident, may mask signs of physical injuries. Keep in mind that just because you did not bleed, break a bone, or lose consciousness from the accident does not mean you did not suffer an injury.
Many types of injuries from car accidents do not immediately present themselves. For example, rear-end collisions represent a common cause of whiplash. According to Mayo Clinic, the pain from this type of soft tissue damage may worsen over the course of several days. If untreated, this injury can cause long-lasting complications.
To err on the side of caution, consider seeking medical attention right after your accident before deciding whether to take legal action against a negligent driver in a car crash. Your attorney can further advise you about your options.
If you feel uncertain about whether you can sue someone after your minor car accident, call Ben Crump Law, PLLC. We will review your case free of charge and advise you of your options: (800) 598-7557.
Can I Sue After a Car Accident if I Was not Hurt?
You can sue someone who causes a car accident that damages your vehicle or other property, even if you were not hurt. However, this action would not constitute a personal injury lawsuit. Rather, you would sue the at-fault party for damages to your vehicle and other property that the insurance company will not pay to repair or replace.
As with a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove the following:
- The other driver had a duty to obey traffic laws.
- The other driver breached this duty.
- This breach of duty caused the accident.
- The accident caused you to incur financial damages
A car accident lawyer can help you in your effort to recover your losses by filing a third-party claim against the at-fault party’s auto insurance policy. Your attorney will:
Document your losses by collecting receipts, repair estimates, rental car costs, etc. Alert the other driver’s insurance company about the collision
Work with the insurance adjuster
The insurance company might respond with an agreement to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your motor vehicle. However, they might undervalue your claim and offer you much less than what you deserve.
In this case, your lawyer will begin negotiating with the adjuster to try to arrive at a fair settlement. If these negotiations do not end well, your lawyer can advise you about your options for filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver, and they can represent you in this effort should you decide to pursue it.
What Is Considered a Low Impact Car Accident?
In the context of a car accident, “low-impact” typically refers to a collision that happens at low speeds, yielding little to no property damage. As a term created by the insurance industry, the parameters for low impact have changed over the years. At one time, the industry’s idea of a “little” property damage meant one that required repairs costing $50 or less. Today, a low-impact collision can require repairs of just under $5,000.
Some insurance companies define low impact with little to no personal injury. By their logic, a crash that causes minimal (low impact) property damage can not inflict bodily injury to a human.
One may question the validity of this logic simply by considering the fact that auto manufacturers design and build cars to withstand the force of impact of another car traveling at low speeds. The same does not hold true for humans.
Research in this area supports a lack of correlation between bodily injury, the speed a car travels, and the damage a car takes on from a collision, according to a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
What Is a Fair Settlement for a Car Accident?
Many variables factor into calculating a settlement for a car accident. Hopefully, you can count on your lawyer to negotiate the best outcome for you—one that recovers your economic losses and your non-economic damages.
If you want to follow along and get a general grasp of what to expect, consider the dynamics at play:
If you want to follow along and get a general grasp of what to expect, consider the dynamics at play:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost earnings
- Future lost income
- Estimated future medical expenses
- General damages multiplier
The multiplier for general damages is a number between 1.5 and 5 that is used to calculate your non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Because this type of damage is harder to quantify than special damages (economic losses, like medical expenses and lost income), the multiplier method can help assign a value to these losses.
The more severe, painful, and long-lasting you suffer from your car accident, the higher the multiplier. Multiply this number times the sum of your special damages to arrive at a ballpark figure for your settlement.
As you can imagine, the multiplier plays a significant role in the outcome of your settlement. Your lawyer will counter the insurance adjuster’s push for a low multiplier, presenting the full extent of your injuries and non-economic damages to get the highest multiplier possible for your given situation.
Do You Always Get a Settlement From a Car Accident?
You do not always get a settlement from a car accident, and this may happen for a number of reasons.
First, you should know that insurance companies generally want to settle. If they do not reach a settlement agreement with you, the insurance adjuster knows your lawyer will most likely file a personal injury lawsuit and take the matter to trial. If you win at trial, quite likely the insurance company will pay whatever the court awards you. For this reason, the insurers would rather settle with you rather than risk the outcome of a trial
That said, the insurance adjuster must act in the best interest of the company when it offers you a settlement. Their first choice would be to deny your claim outright, perhaps by challenging their policyholder’s fault for the car accident. If they do not deny a claim, they may offer a settlement that does not fairly compensate you for your losses.
Some people act on their fear of walking away with nothing, and they accept the first settlement offer the insurance company proposes. In so doing, they eliminate any opportunity to go back to the insurer for more compensation when they realize the amount was not enough to cover their expenses.