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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Auto Accidents - What You Should Know

Posted by attorney Andrew Jones

What should I do after an accident?

Immediately following an automobile accident, you should determine that everyone involved is safe. If anyone requires medical attention, emergency medical personnel should be called. Exchange information with the involved parties, including insurance and driver license information, and contact law enforcement. Law enforcement can document the scene, take your statement of the incident and file an accident report.

Should I contact my own insurance company?

Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to report every auto accident. Your insurance company may want to collect basic information about the accident. Sometimes your insurance company will want your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident. We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or if you believe the insurance company might try to claim you are not covered or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact an attorney before you go any further.

Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance company? What if they call me?

You should never give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company without consulting with an attorney. If you are contacted, be polite, but decline to talk to the insurance representative. Insurance companies' claims adjusters are professional negotiators, with extensive experience in using every technique to persuade you into disclosing information which can compromise your claim, including discouraging you from retaining legal counsel. Claims adjusters are hired because they sound persuasive over the phone, but they are well trained by insurance company attorneys to ask questions in a manner designed to compromise your claim. Simply respond by saying "thank you for calling but I am not prepared to discuss this matter with you at this time."

How much money can I expect for the property damage to my car?

You should expect to be offered the amount that it will take to restore your vehicle to its condition prior to the accident or the fair market value of your vehicle if the vehicle is considered totaled. There are different methods used by insurance companies to determine these values. We are prepared to assist you in making sure these values fall within the scope of fairness provided by the law. We assist our clients on their property damage claims for free.

I have been in a motor vehicle accident. Should I go to a doctor?

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should see a doctor right away. Most importantly, you should see a doctor for your own well-being. You may not be able to discern the extent of your injuries yourself; a small ache could be something significant. Only a doctor can tell you for sure. You should also see a doctor because if you decide to bring a legal claim against the at-fault driver or another party, you will need documentation of your injuries and what you did to fix them.

How much is my personal injury case worth?

Your attorney can speak with you about this, but even attorneys can’t necessarily pinpoint what your case is worth until it is close to a resolution. Many factors, including the circumstances of the accident, the state of the drivers involved and the insurance companies influence the outcome. So do your medical bills, your loss of income and the nature of your injuries. An experienced attorney can work with you to decide whether to pursue legal action and how to proceed.

What if the insurance company offers me a check right away?

Before you accept anything — or sign anything — from an insurance company, be sure that you are aware of your legal rights and options. Accepting a check may mean that you are giving up your right to pursue your claim for damages. Consult an attorney before you negotiate with the insurance company.

How much does legal representation cost?

We work on a contingency fee basis. We offer to represent our clients based on a percentage of the amount recovered for them. If we obtain financial compensation for you, we will take a percentage of the award as payment for our fees, but if we do not recover financial compensation for you, you do not owe any legal fees or costs. We understand that many people cannot afford the hourly fees that many attorneys charge for counsel and are pleased to offer our clients this service.

Do I really need an attorney?

In accord with the law, you have the right to legal counsel to protect your rights when someone’s negligence has caused damage to you and/or your property. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney sends the insurance company a message that you are serious about your claim. The at-fault insurance company may try to tell you that you do not need an attorney. If the at-fault insurance company convinces a claimant that they do not need an attorney, you may be left with an unresolved claim. In some cases it is then too late for us to assist you because your claim has been time barred. We can be of the most help when you come to see us immediately after an accident.

How much time do I have to pursue my claim?

You have two years from the date of the accident to bring a lawsuit for damages arising out of the accident. It is always better to involve an attorney early in the process to help develop your case, preserve evidence, monitor your injuries and expenses, negotiate with the insurance company and file your claim in court if the case cannot be settled.

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