If the insurance company states that you were at fault for a car accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney if you have not already done so. The insurance company might be incorrect, even if it is relying on a police report. When you retain a car accident lawyer, he or she can investigate the case to determine who was really at fault. Additionally, many states allow recovery of damages even you were partially at fault for the accident as long as you were not more than 50 percent at fault.
If you sustained injuries and other damages in a car accident and the insurance company insists the accident was your fault, contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you are in a car accident, taking certain steps immediately after can protect you legally, financially, and medically.
- Call first responders and check on others involved in the accident.
- Obtain other drivers’ contact information, insurance information, and registration information. Make sure you include the year, make, model, and color of all vehicles involved.
- Speak to witnesses. You’ll also need their contact information. If a witness will tell you what he or she saw, take notes.
- Be sure to obtain medical attention at the scene, even if you believe your injuries are minor.
- Give the officer handling the scene your version of what happened.
- As soon as the officer releases you from the scene, seek medical attention. Tell the medical provider that you were in an accident and need a full checkup. Some injuries might not manifest for hours or even a day or two later.
- Contact a car accident lawyer.
- Notify the insurance company that you were involved in an accident.
Discussing the Accident with an Insurance Company
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Any claim they pay out cuts into their profits. Thus, they will find any excuse not to pay a claim. One of the tricks they use is to twist what you tell them to place the blame for the accident on you.
When you contact the insurance company to notify it that you were in an accident, we recommend giving it your name, contact information, the policy numbers and names of the other drivers’ insurance companies, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.
If the insurance company “insists” on taking your statement, continue referring it to your attorney. Do not give in to their pressure. Never sign anything from an insurance company without showing your attorney. If you inadvertently sign a medical release or a settlement, you will not be able to collect additional damages that it could owe you, including future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
People who attempt to settle on their own often leave money on the table. A car accident attorney will do his best to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. You could recover economic damages, non-economic damages, and in some states, punitive damages.
Economic damages include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses if you lost a loved one in a car accident.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of use of a body part or a bodily function.
- Inconvenience if you need to hire someone to do your usual chores, such as house cleaning, home repair and maintenance, lawn maintenance, and grocery shopping.
- Extra compensation for amputations, excessive scarring, and disfigurement.
Economic and non-economic damages are compensatory damages. The court orders these damages in an attempt to make you whole again.
On the other hand, the court orders a defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for his or her actions or inactions as opposed to making you whole again. In most states, the court requires a bifurcated trial – a two-part trial – because you can only collect punitive damages if you can show the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent and the court awarded you compensatory damages.
While the process to obtain punitive damages makes your case take longer, it is often worth the extra compensation, especially if your accident injuries caused permanent disabilities.
Do I Really Need a Car Accident Lawyer for an At-Fault Car Accident?
Regardless of who was at fault, we recommend that you retain a car accident lawyer. The other drivers involved will most likely retain a personal injury attorney to represent them. If the insurance company is accusing you of being at fault, you could be responsible for damages that your insurance does not, will not, or cannot cover. Additionally, while you might be at fault for the accident, you also might not be fully at fault.
Contact us right away to schedule a consultation.