Auto accidents can be traumatizing and overwhelming, and knowing what to do in the aftermath of an accident can understandably be confusing and stressful. While auto accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury cases in the United States, pursuing a legal claim for damages after an accident can be a complex process with endless insurance company traps. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, the best thing you can do to protect your legal rights, and to get you’re the most money possible, is to quickly retain an experienced auto accident attorney.
What kind of damages can I recover in an auto accident claim?
In an auto accident case, you may be able to recover several different types of damages to compensate you for your injuries and losses. Here are some of the most common types of damages that may be available in an auto accident case:
The specific types of damages that may be available in your auto accident case will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and the injuries you sustained.
How long do I have to file an auto accident claim?
In all states, there is a statute of limitations that establishes a time limit or deadline for filing an auto accident claim. The length of the statute of limitations varies from state to state, and based on the particular type of claims being brought, so it is critically important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident to ensure that you do not miss the deadline for filing your claim. There can also be notification deadlines that must be complied with in insurance policies.
How is fault determined in an auto accident case?
Determining fault in an auto accident case can be complex and will involve investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident, examining police reports and witness statements, and many times requires the analysis of physical evidence such as skid marks and vehicle damage. Ultimately, fault will be determined based on the degree to which each driver was negligent, or failed to exercise the appropriate level of care, leading to the accident, as well as by the applicable state’s law.
How much can I expect to receive in compensation for an auto accident claim?
The amount of compensation that you may be entitled to receive will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Factors that may impact the amount of compensation you are entitled to include the severity of your injuries, the amount of medical expenses you have incurred, the extent of your lost wages and other economic losses, and the amount of pain and suffering that you endure. Depending upon the facts of a particular case, that can be other items of damages, such as punitive damages and damages for loss of consortium. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you assess the value of your claim and negotiate with insurance companies and other parties to help you obtain fair compensation.
Do I need an attorney to handle my auto accident claim?
It is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The Insurance company would love for you to handle the case by yourself, because they know that their own industry research has shown that auto accident victims get many times more money when they are represented by an attorney. Insurance companies are in business to make money, and insurance adjusters are trained to minimize the value of a claim, and if possible, pay you nothing at all. Auto accident cases can be complex, and insurance companies and other parties will try to minimize the amount of compensation you receive. An attorney can provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need to navigate the legal system, protect your rights, and obtain the compensation you deserve. The insurance company has attorneys that fight to protect their rights; you need a law firm who will fight hard to protect yours!
What if I was partially at fault for the accident?
If you were partially at fault for the accident, depending on the applicable state law you may still be entitled to recover damages. For example, in some states the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive may be reduced based on your degree of fault. In other states, you may be barred from recovering any damages if you were more than 50% at fault for the accident. And there are a few states where you cannot recover anything if you were even one percent at fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand the laws in your state and assess the impact of any negligence by you on your claim.
What should I do if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured?
If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured (does not have enough insurance), you may be able to recover damages through your own insurance policy. Depending on the terms of your policy, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, this can help protect you in the event that you are involved in an accident with a driver who is not adequately insured.
If I got a ticket but the accident was not my fault, can I still have a case for my injuries?
If you were involved in an auto accident and received a ticket, but the accident was not your fault, you may still be able to pursue a legal claim for your injuries. The fact that you received a ticket does not necessarily mean that you were at fault for the accident. Remember that the police officer who issues a ticket rarely seeks the accident happen, but rather issues a ticked based upon what people tell them and what they see. Despite their best intentions, many times they are wrong.
Establishing fault in an auto accident case typically requires a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the accident, including an analysis of physical evidence, witness testimony, and police reports. If the investigation reveals that the other driver was at fault for the accident, you may be able to pursue a claim for your injuries.
Can I still recover damages if I was not wearing a seatbelt?
In some states, if it can be proven that your failure to wear a seatbelt contributed to your injuries, your damages may be reduced. However, even if you were not wearing a seatbelt, you may still be entitled to recover damages if it can be shown that the other driver was at fault for the accident. Seatbelt laws and the impact that they have will vary from state to state.
What type of evidence is utilized in establishing liability in an auto accident case?
When pursuing an auto accident case, there are several types of evidence that can be useful in establishing liability and damages. Here are some of the most common types of evidence that may be used in an auto accident case, depending on the particular circumstances:
What are the elements that must be proved to establish negligence?
In order to establish negligence in an auto accident case, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove the following four elements:
What is accident reconstruction and when is it utilized?
Proving each of required elements to establish negligence that are described in number 10 above can be challenging, and requires thorough consideration, and varying degrees of investigation of the accident and the circumstances surrounding it.
In cases where there is a dispute over who was at fault for the accident and the injuries are very serious, accident reconstruction can often provide critical evidence that can help to prove liability and hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.
Accident reconstruction is the process of using scientific methods and principles to investigate and reconstruct the events leading up to a vehicle accident. This can include analyzing physical evidence, examining witness statements, and using computer modeling to recreate the accident and determine its cause. The goal of accident reconstruction is to provide an objective and scientifically sound analysis of the accident, which can be used to determine liability, support legal claims, and inform safety recommendations.
Accident reconstruction is typically performed by engineers, scientists, or other professionals who have expertise in the field. These experts may work for law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, or legal firms, among others. The process of accident reconstruction can involve several steps, including:
Accident reconstruction can be used to determine a variety of information about an accident, including the speed and direction of the vehicles involved, the point of impact, and the causes of the accident. It can also be used to determine liability in accidents and to support legal claims related to personal injury or property damage.
Overall, accident reconstruction is an important tool for understanding and preventing vehicle accidents. By using scientific methods and principles to analyze the causes of accidents, accident reconstruction can help to inform safety recommendations, support legal claims, and promote safer driving practices.
In addition to its value in legal cases, accident reconstruction can also be used to identify and address safety issues that may have contributed to the accident. By identifying factors such as road design or vehicle design flaws that may have contributed to the accident, accident reconstruction can help to prevent future accidents and improve overall public safety.
What is the “Black Box” that is in automobiles, and how can it be useful in an auto accident case?
Much like the black box that is in airplanes, manufacturers have installed a black box in modern cars that record important information about the vehicle's operation, such as speed, braking patterns, and acceleration. Black boxes can provide valuable information for accident reconstruction and can be a critical piece of evidence in auto accident cases.
Black boxes can be particularly useful in cases where there is a dispute over who was at fault for the accident. The data recorded by the black box can help to determine the speed and direction of the vehicles involved in the accident, the point of impact, and other critical factors that can help to determine liability. This information can be used to build a stronger case on behalf of the victim or to defend against claims of liability.
In addition to providing important information for accident reconstruction, black boxes can also be used to identify and address safety issues in the automotive industry. By analyzing the data from black boxes, researchers and engineers can identify trends in accidents and make recommendations for improvements in vehicle design, road design, and other areas that can improve overall public safety.
It is important to note that the data recorded by black boxes is owned by the vehicle owner or lessee, and in some cases, the manufacturer or insurance company. In order to obtain this data, a legal request is usually needed, such as a subpoena, and it is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to ensure that this information is properly obtained, preserve and not destroyed, and used to support the case.
When is uninsured/underinsured motorist important in an auto accident case?
Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage can be a critical component of an auto accident case, when the at-fault driver is uninsured. Additionally, if the negligent driver does not have enough insurance to fully compensate you for the moneys that are owed to you, if you have taken out this type of insurance under your policy, and your coverage is high enough, then your policy could step in and pick up where the other insurance policy left off, and pay the difference that you are entitled to up to your policy limits. .
It is important to note that UM coverage is not required in all states, and the coverage limits may vary depending on the policy. It is important to review your policy and understand the extent of your coverage, particularly if you live in a state where UM coverage is not required.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the insurance company?
If the insurance company offers you a settlement after an accident, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before accepting the offer. Insurance companies may routinely offer a settlement that is lower than what you are entitled, to in order to make mopre profits for their shareholders. An attorney can help you assess the offer and negotiate for a higher amount, or advise you to reject the offer and pursue your case in court.
How long will it take to resolve my auto accident case?
The length of time it takes to resolve an auto accident case can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Some cases may be resolved quickly through a settlement, while others may take months or even years to resolve through litigation. Factors that may impact the timeline of your case include the complexity of the legal and factual issues involved, the seriousness of the injuries, the willingness of the other party to negotiate or litigate, the availability of expert witnesses and other resources, the amount of available insurance coverage, and the strength of liability under the facts of your case and the applicable law.
Should I speak to the other driver's insurance company?
We strongly caution, you not to talk to the other insurance company, or to any insurance company for that matter, without first consulting with an experienced, personal injury attorney, who will protect your interests. Similarly, we urge you to never give a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney first, and being advised on whether or not, you are required to do with, and without having an attorney present, or on the phone with you Insurance adjusters are very good at their jobs, and seemingly innocent comments by you may be used to get you. For example, if they ask you several times “how are you today” and you answer “fine how are you,” when you are in fact, hurt, can be recorded and used against you to minimize the amount of money that you are paid! Dealing with the insurance company is truly a minefield for people who don’t have the necessary expertise and who do not handle these cases on a daily basis.
What is I was hit by a negligent driver, driving a company vehicle, will the company be liable?
In most circumstances, the company who owns the vehicle will be responsible for the negligence of the driver.
What are bad faith insurance claims?
There are a variety of bad faith, insurance claims, depending upon the applicable state law, in particular type of insurance policy involved. Focusing on the subject of these FAQs, in auto accident cases, bad faith insurance claims can arise when an insurance company acts in an unfair or deceptive manner towards their policyholder, particularly in situations where the available insurance coverage is not enough to fully compensate the victim for their injuries and damages.
In these cases, the insurance company may engage in tactics such as delaying the claims process, denying the claim without a valid reason, or undervaluing the victim's injuries and damages. This can leave the victim without the compensation they need to cover their medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to the accident.
If an insurance company is found to have acted in bad faith, the victim may be able to pursue a legal claim against the insurance company to recover additional compensation for their injuries and damages, over and above the amount of available insurance. This can include compensation for the original damages, as well as additional damages for the insurance company's bad faith conduct. So, for example, we’ve handled lots of claims were the policy limit available to the negligent driver for liability insurance was only $25,000, but we were actually able to get our client $300,000, $500,000, or even over $1 million as a result of the insurance company’s bad faith. Being able to do this, depends upon the facts of a case, the case, being handled properly by a very experienced attorney who understands these issues, and an insurance company that action bad faith.
Don't wait to get the help you need. Call us today at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) to receive your free consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys. We will review your case, answer your questions, and provide you with the legal guidance and support you need to move forward with your life.
Remember, time is of the essence in personal injury cases, so don't delay. Call us today at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333) to get the help you need from one of the top-rated accident law firms in Georgia. Let us fight for your rights and help you get the justice you deserve.
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.