Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Lawsuits
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you’re likely facing a whirlwind of questions and concerns. From immediate actions to long-term considerations, understanding the legal aspects of a car accident can be essential in ensuring you protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve.
What Can You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
- Call the Police: Contact the local authorities to report the accident so it is properly investigated, and so you have an official record of the incident that will include important details from the scene.
- Get Medical Attention: Seek medical attention promptly, even if you don’t feel seriously injured.
- Don’t Talk to Insurance Adjusters: Avoid discussing the accident with insurance adjusters, as they may use your statements against you to minimize their exposure by either placing blame on you or diminishing your injuries.
- Exchange Contact Info: Exchange contact information with the at-fault driver and any witnesses. This information may be vital for your case.
When is it Advisable to Seek Medical Attention After a Car Accident?
Seek medical attention immediately after a car accident, even if you feel fine initially. Early medical intervention is not only good for your health, but it is also helpful for properly documenting important details for your claim. Some injuries may not be obvious right away because adrenaline has a way of suppressing symptoms in the moment. Or you may feel a minor ache or twinge that you are confident will subside but ends up only getting worse over time. Serious injuries that are not addressed immediately could get worse if treatment is delayed, and also present challenges in your case later on.
How Do I Report the Accident to My Insurance Company?
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Most insurance policies require prompt reporting of accidents. If you have an insurance agent, you can work with that individual to report the claim. If you do not have an agent, you can usually find the contact information on your insurance card or policy documents.
Should I Speak to the At Fault Driver’s Insurance Company?
It’s generally recommended not to speak with the other driver’s insurance company without consulting with a lawyer first. Even seemingly innocent choices of words can negatively affect your case, so it’s best to say nothing — good or bad — without legal representation. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters may try to reduce their liability exposure, so working through an attorney you can help protect your interests before you say something that you shouldn’t.
How is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
Fault in a car accident is determined initially by the police at the scene. It can also be re-determined later (by the insurance company or in court) if new information comes to light in the post-crash investigation. Some accidents, like rear-end collisions, have clear fault, while others may require a more detailed investigation that includes eye-witness statements, obtaining surveillance video, downloading black box information, and/or engaging a crash reconstructionist.
What Types of Compensation Can I Seek After a Car Accident?
Generally speaking, you are entitled to recover various forms of compensation, including:
- Medical Expenses: Coverage for current and future medical bills for injuries related to the accident.
- Property Damage: Compensation for damage to your vehicle.
- Pain and Suffering: Damages for physical and emotional suffering.
- Lost Wages: Compensation for past, current, and future income lost due to the accident.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
In most cases, you have two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your car accident injuries and damages. This period is known as the statute of limitations. Two years may seem like a long time to file a claim, but building a case can take more time than you might think. It’s important to hire an experienced, local car accident attorney as soon as possible so they can start compiling all of the necessary information and documentation so they can make a strong case against the responsible parties. This will afford you the best chance to obtain the most compensation you need to move forward.
Do I Need an Attorney for my Car Accident Claim?
While you can pursue a claim without an attorney, car accident victims are generally more successful at receiving fair compensation if they have legal representation. An experienced car accident lawyer can navigate the complexities of the legal process, ensure your rights are protected, and get you a fair settlement that will more fully cover your damages.
What Can You Do if the Insurance Company Denies Your Claim?
If your insurance claim is denied by the at fault party, rely on your experienced car accident lawyer for advice on how to proceed. They can help you challenge the denial and explore other avenues for compensation.
What Happens if the Other Driver Disputes Fault?
If the other driver disputes fault, it can complicate the claims process. Resolution may involve a more in-depth investigation, followed by negotiation, mediation, or even filing a lawsuit to have a judge or jury determine fault and liability.
Can You Still Pursue a Claim if You Were Partially at Fault for the Car Accident?
Yes, you can typically pursue a claim even if you were partially at fault. This is often referred to as “comparative negligence” or “comparative fault.” The specific rules vary by state:
- 51% Bar Rule: You can pursue a claim as long as you are less than 51% at fault.
- Reduced Compensation: Your compensation is reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.
- Complete Bar at 51% or More Fault: If you are 51% or more at fault, you generally cannot recover any damages.
- Ohio is a comparative negligence jurisdiction, which means so long as you are less than 50% at fault, you can still obtain compensation, but your compensation will be reduced by your degree of fault.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
The time it takes to settle a car accident claim varies widely depending on numerous factors, including the severity of injuries, liability complexity, insurance company cooperation, extent of damages, medical treatment, negotiation process, court proceedings, policy limits, disputed issues, and state laws. The complexity of these factors is precisely why it is best to hire an experienced attorney right away. The earlier your attorney is involved, the better he or she can work to simplify some of these things, which will in turn shorten the process.
What Can You Do If You’re Contacted by the At Fault Driver’s Attorney or Insurance Adjuster?
If you’re contacted by the other driver’s attorney or insurance adjuster after a crash, exercise extreme caution. Avoid answering questions or providing any explanations without consulting your attorney first. They can guide you on how best to respond and proceed to protect your best interests.
Navigating the aftermath of a car accident that wasn’t your fault can be overwhelming, but understanding these FAQs can help you make informed decisions and seek legal counsel to get the compensation you deserve. Always consult with an experienced, local car accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process. If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, contact Arthur Law Firm (419) 782-9881 right away for a free consultation.