A car accident can cause many people trauma. They find themselves in states of shock and emotional distress afterward. Despite improvements in vehicle safety and driver education, car accidents injure or disable nearly 2.3 million people each year in the United States. If you were injured in a car accident, you can receive compensation for medical bills, physical rehabilitation, lost wages, and other related expenses from either your car insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, depending on who was at fault.
A car accident lawyer can help you through the complicated legal process of fully understanding your options, establishing liability, guiding you through filing a personal injury claim, and helping you receive all the compensation you deserve.
If you were injured in a car accident, several factors could alter your claim.
What Type of Car Accident Were You In?
Car accidents can occur when people speed on the highway, during bumper-to-bumper traffic, and all points in between. The following lists the most common types of car accidents:
Rear-end collisions are often caused by a sudden slowing down or braking of the car in front. In other cases, one car follows another one too closely or accelerates to a higher rate of speed than the car in front of it.
Side-impact collisions—often called T-bone or broadside collisions—commonly result in severe vehicle damage and occupant injuries.
Head-on collisions—when the front ends of two vehicles hit each other—are often fatal.
Sideswipe collisions, when two vehicles drive next to one another in the same direction and rub into each other, usually involve minimal vehicle damage.
Vehicle rollovers are usually caused by sharp turns at high rates of speed or when vehicles get tripped.
Single car accidents occur when one vehicle strikes a pole, tree, fire hydrant, wall, or innocent bystander.
Multi-vehicle pile-ups, or multiple vehicle collisions, commonly occur on highways and freeways. These accidents pose a great risk of danger to car occupants because multiple vehicles can strike each car, each collision causing further damage. Law enforcement and civil lawyers can have trouble determining which driver(s) caused these accidents.
Hit-and-run accidents occur when a driver intentionally leaves the scene of an accident that results in property damage, personal injury, or death.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Regardless of the apparent severity of your injuries, always see a doctor after a car accident. Some injuries may take time to manifest and could worsen without proper treatment. Commonly reported car accident injuries include:
Whiplash, also called neck sprain, is commonly experienced after a rear-end collision when the impact causes the neck to abruptly move backward and then forward. Whiplash may damage intervertebral joints located between vertebrae, discs, ligaments, cervical muscles, and nerve roots. Whiplash symptoms may not appear for days following a car accident.
Brain injuries can occur if you hit your head with force against an object, or from the sheer force of the impact, causing your brain to collide with the inside of your skull. A mild traumatic brain injury, such as a concussion, may heal on its own after a few weeks. A severe traumatic brain injury can impair critical brain functions such as speech, vision, concentration, and memory.
Leg and knee injuries can occur from impacts or from part of the car crushing an occupant. These injuries include everything from cuts and bruises to fractures. If the accident abruptly turns or twists knees, the tearing of cartilage or even dislocation can result.
Chest injuries can occur from the impact of a collision, leading to broken ribs, broken collarbones, or a broken sternum (breast bone). Some broken bones can cause permanent injuries to nerves, muscles, tendons or ligaments. To improve strength and range of motion after a bone has healed, victims may require physical therapy.
Internal injuries can occur to the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver or spleen, and may take time to present themselves.
Ten Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you were in a car accident, protect yourself and your interests by taking the following ten steps:
- Stop your vehicle. Never drive away from the scene of an accident. If you leave the scene of an accident, police could charge you with hit-and-run and you could face serious criminal penalties.
- Ensure safety. Do not exit your vehicle until you may safely do so. Turn on your emergency flashers. Before assessing property damage, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. Immediately seek medical attention for anyone who needs it. Do not move an unconscious person until a medical team arrives.
- Call 911. If the accident injured anyone or rendered anyone unconscious, immediately request emergency medical assistance. Even if the accident didn’t cause serious injuries, call the police to report the incident. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is solely for damage to your vehicle.
- Report an accurate record. When police arrive, tell the investigating officers exactly what happened. Do not speculate or guess. If you don’t know an answer, tell the officer you do not know. Do not misstate any facts. For example, if an officer asks if you are injured, say that you are unsure rather than no. Do not admit fault or liability.
- Take pictures. Take photographs of the accident scene, of any damage to your vehicle or other vehicles, and of any apparent personal injuries. Photographs can help your insurance adjuster determine how much compensation you deserve for car damage. Photographs may also help strengthen your legal claims. Make sure your photography does not interfere with the on-going police investigation.
- Exchange information. Police usually obtain this information, but you should try to get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all concerned parties. You should also obtain the registration numbers and insurance information for the vehicles involved. Get any witnesses‘ information in case you or your attorney need to contact them in the future.
- Do not take responsibility. When talking with the other parties involved in the accident, witnesses, or the police, do not take responsibility for the accident. Do not admit any fault or liability. Do not say you are sorry.
- Call your insurance company. Regardless of who is at fault, always call your insurance company to report that you were in an accident and provide general background information. Keep in mind, however, that an insurance company representative is focused on the best interests of the insurance company—not you. Do not discuss the issue of fault until you consult with an attorney. Politely decline to provide a recorded statement until after seeking legal advice.
- Seek medical attention. Always seek medical attention after a car accident. Some injuries do not immediately manifest and you may not notice any pain or symptoms immediately after the accident. Even in accidents involving minor impacts, you can sustain injuries that may worsen if left untreated. After seeking medical attention, make sure you keep all medical documents related to your treatments.
- Call an experienced attorney. After a car accident, consult with a personal injury attorney. An attorney can protect your rights and help you through the correct procedures to commence a claim. An attorney can also help maximize your compensation if you’re injured and can help defend you if you are at fault. Talk to an experienced attorney before providing any statements to insurance companies.
What Are Contingency Fees?
Personal injury lawyers usually charge a contingency fee to take on your case. Rather than charging you by the hour, in a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage (often one-third) of the total amount you recover in court if you win the case. If you lose, neither you nor the lawyer will get any money, but you will not need to pay your attorney for the work done on your case.
Time Limit to File a Car Accident Claim
Every state has its own statute of limitations, which places time limits on when you can file a claim. Depending on the state, you may have anywhere from one to six years to file a lawsuit arising from an accident or personal injury. If you do not file your claim within the state’s time limit, you will lose your right to sue. Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure you properly file your claim within your state’s statute of limitations.
What Are Settlement Negotiations?
Settlement negotiations between the injured party and an insurance company—not trials—resolve the majority of car accident cases. If you were injured in a car accident and are not at fault, the law entitles you to seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. You may seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages (due to losing work during your recovery), and pain and suffering. You will need to gather information and evidence that will help support your claim, such as medical records, receipts for treatments or medication, photographs, and statements from witnesses, all of which your attorney can help you compile. The settlement process involves more than simply submitting a personal injury claim to the negligent driver’s insurance provider. This process often involves a lengthy investigation of your accident and negotiations between your attorney and the insurance company.
Contact a National Car Accident Lawyer Today
The law office of Stewart J. Guss has helped many clients throughout Texas assert their rights after sustaining accident injuries. Our attorneys understand how to investigate your case, work with the insurance company to get all of the compensation you deserve, and if they cannot reach a settlement, file a lawsuit on your behalf. They can help you navigate Texas’s complicated automobile accident laws. You want the team of auto collision attorneys at the Stewart J. Guss law firm to protect your rights as well as the rights of your loved ones.
If you want to schedule a free consultation to learn more about our team, please call 800-898-4877 or contact us online today.
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