Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents
If you've been hit, here's what you need to know
The aftermath of an auto accident can be bewildering and overwhelming. You may not be sure what to do - and the clock is ticking. When medical bills are piling up and you're dealing with time away from work as you recover, knowing what to do makes all the difference.
That's why our attorneys have prepared this guide explaining what to do after a car accident. Recht Law Offices has been helping accident victims since 1952, and we're happy to share that experience with you.
- What do I need to do right after an accident?
- Do I really need to see a doctor?
- The driver who hit me seemed drunk. Do I have a case?
- How can an attorney help show I wasn't at fault?
- How much can I recover after a car accident?
- Should I talk to the insurance company?
- The insurance made me a settlement offer. Should I take it?
- Do I have to go to court?
This general guide should give you a sense of the steps you need to take after a car accident. However, every accident is unique. We encourage you to seek counsel from an experienced car accident lawyer on your specific case before taking action. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. Call 1 (877) 321-7324.
What do I need to do right after an accident?
Safety needs to be your first priority. Make sure the scene is safe, which may mean you need to move your vehicle (if it's still drivable) to keep from blocking traffic. Call emergency services and assist if you are trained to do so.
When talking to the police and other motorists at the scene of the accident, stick to the facts of what happened. Don't say anything that could be construed as admitting fault for the accident. Even if you have reason to believe you were to blame, determining fault is not something you can or should do at the scene - it will require an investigation. Anything you say could be used against you in a future personal injury case.
Get names and contact information for the investigating officer, other drivers involved and any witnesses. Take pictures of the accident scene, any visible injuries and any property damage. You will need that evidence to protect your legal rights.
See a doctor right away, even if you feel perfectly fine. Sometimes, accidents can cause internal injuries that take time to become apparent. Seeing a doctor is the best option to protect your health. Moreover, if you wait too long to seek treatment, an insurance company may use the delay against you.
Call your insurance company to report the accident, but again, stick to the facts. Ask them to direct any further questions to your attorney.
Finally, reach out to Recht Law and meet with us as soon as possible for a free case evaluation. We can help you understand your legal rights and develop a strategy to move forward.
Do I really need to see a doctor?
Yes. Even if you don't think you're hurt, the accident may have caused serious and potentially life-threatening internal injuries. Seeing a doctor right away is the best option for your health. Also, if you wait to see a doctor, an insurance company may argue that your injuries weren't serious, or that they were sustained after the accident. Make sure you tell the doctor who sees you that you were in a car accident, and document every medical visit related to the accident.
The driver who hit me seemed drunk. Do I have a case?
You very likely do, but we need to prove it. Even if the other driver was arrested for DUI, remember that the police aren't on your side. Their job is to prosecute criminal offenders, not to make sure that victims receive financial compensation.
Our investigation will include interviewing witnesses, reviewing police reports and searching for any other evidence that may prove the driver who hit you was under the influence. Depending on the circumstances, we may have a "dram shop" case against the person or business that served alcohol to this person in addition to the intoxicated motorist.
How can an attorney help show I wasn't at fault?
We'll thoroughly investigate the scene of the accident to determine what happened. That includes talking to witnesses, taking pictures and reviewing documents such as cell phone records that may show the other driver was texting and driving. We may work with an accident reconstructionist or other experts to get more information about what happened.
The sooner you call us after an accident, the easier it will be to show that you weren't at fault. Over time, the evidence we need disappears and witnesses' memories fade. That's why it's so important to call us right away.
How much can I recover after a car accident?
The amount of financial compensation you receive depends on the amount of damage inflicted. After a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for all of the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages during your recovery
- Lost future earnings
- Future medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Modifications to your home or vehicle
- Property damage
With an attorney from Recht Law on your side, you can rest assured that we will explore every avenue of compensation. You have a right to be made whole again after an accident that wasn't your fault. Make sure your settlement or verdict pays for the whole cost of your accident.
Should I talk to the insurance company?
You do need to report the accident to your insurance company in a timely manner; otherwise, they may deny your claim. However, you need to be very careful of what you say during that initial phone call. Stick to the facts and don't mention anything that they could use to blame you for the collision. Tell them to direct any further questions to your attorney.
If you receive a call from an insurance company representing the other driver, politely decline to speak with them. When you retain Recht Law to represent you, we can handle all of those questions and protect your legal rights.
The insurance made me a settlement offer. Should I take it?
Be wary of accepting any settlement offer made shortly after the accident - it's almost certainly a "low-ball" offer that the insurance wants you to take in order to limit their own costs. Those initial offers rarely cover the full cost of an accident, and if you're still being treated for your injuries, there's no way of even knowing what the full cost is.
We strongly recommend that you wait until you have completed your medical treatment before even looking at a settlement offer from your insurance company. Reach out to us for a free consultation before deciding to accept a settlement. In most cases, we can find other losses that need to be compensated and recover a significantly larger amount than that initial offer.
Most car accident cases settle out of court, but we do prepare every case as though it's going to trial. Doing so allows us to negotiate with the insurance from a position of strength. Often, they're willing to increase their settlement offer to avoid facing us at trial.
If your case does go to trial, we'll work with you as your attorneys to prepare you every step of the way. Going to court can be a stressful and emotional experience, but sometimes, it's the only way to get the compensation you need to be made whole again. You can trust our family law firm to make sure you're fully prepared.