Victims of car accidents have many questions about what to do. This legal guide provides answers to help you better understand your responsibilities and to help make certain that the insurance company deals with you fairly. Frequently asked questions arise and these answers illuminate the process.
When should I let my insurance company know about my car accident?
Drivers in car accidents should contact their insurance agent as soon as possible. Call your insurance agent before you even see a doctor, although this will not be possible in all situations. Ideally, you should contact the insurance agent immediately after the car injury or accident has occurred.
When should I give a written statement or allow my statement to be recorded?
You should not do so until you have a full understanding of your car insurance policy. If you are being urged to make a statement or feel that you need help understanding your policy, get an attorney because legal advice may be of assistance.
Do I take pictures of the car damage and accident scene?
Yes. Pictures of the property damage, injuries sustained, and the accident scene are valid documentation and authentic proof of what happened during the accident.
What happens if the driver that caused the accident is under insured or has no insurance?
Many insurance policies for cars have clauses for both underinsured and uninsured motorists. Your insurance agent and your attorney can help you understand these provision and will advise you about how they can help you with your property damage and payments of treatment of injuries.
Should I tell the insurance company what caused the accident?
Yes. Always give your insurance agents the facts about what actually happened in the accident. If you give false information, the claim you make for insurance coverage may be denied
Should I accept the first estimate of payment the insurance company gives me?
No. The insurance company wants to pay as little as possible. The claims persons try to get their customers to accept replacement estimates determined by mechanics that work for them. These estimates might be low. It is wise to get a second opinion, and sometimes even a third opinion.
Do I need an attorney to assist me?
Yes. Generally the insurance company is not on your side. The insurer is responsible for satisfying their shareholders, not you or your family. They do not have your best interests in mind. If you have questions about the language in your policy, do not understand terms or language in your policy, have trouble getting a response from the insurance agent, have not received your check from your insurance company, or have any concerns about how your claim is handled, your own attorney will be able to provide you with valuable assistance.
Check with a lawyer in your locale to discuss more of the details.
Good luck to you.
NOTE: This answer is made available by the out-of-state lawyer for educational purposes only. By using or participating in this site you understand that there is no attorney client privilege between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney that practices in the subject practice discipline and with whom you have an attorney client relationship along with all the privileges that relationship provides. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question.
With an injury that serious, you should definitely consult with an attorney.
I strongly encourage you to make an appointment to talk with an attorney who is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice (www.pajustice.org). The members of that organization are committed to representing victims of trauma and they have the resources of the organization and its members to ensure that they have the skills to represent you in a manner that will allow you to receive the maximum compensation for your injuries.
If you cannot find one, then feel free to call me at 215-209-8501 and I will be glad to give you the names of some excellent attorneys who practice in Pittsburgh.
You have two years from the date of the car crash to file a lawsuit, but any attorney you hire will need some time to investigate and prepare the litigation papers. You should not wait, but hire someone now so that he or she can begin the investigation and obtain the necessary records.
It sounds as though it was quite a significant injury. Time is of the essence -- you want to make sure that valuable evidence is preserved. A good personal injury attorney will be able to walk you through the process and make sure that crucial steps are taken (witness statements gathered, pictures taken etc.). You should contact a personal injury attorney immediately to discuss your accident and explore your options.
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