“Where there is a will, there is a lawsuit.”
― Addison Mizner
Most of the teenagers get their first car after they turn 18, but very few of them actually think it through. Car accidents are inevitable and more common than people think it is, but not many people pay attention in that vicinity. When people do not even pay attention to follow the basic safety rules, you cannot expect them to foresee legal procedures post an accident, can you?
Taking an instance from one of the developed countries in the world, the USA gets about 17,000 car crash reports a day. Thus, that gives us a rough image of the incidents of car crash underdeveloped or the developing countries in the world. But what happens afterwards? When the police arrive? How the legal procedures become the elephant in the room that has not ever been discussed before?
In a nutshell, we never understand the importance of it until the last moment. People hurriedly take decisions which often lead to disasters afterwards. But you can avoid all these conflicts and last moment decisions if you can pay attention from the moment you buy a car. It is not necessary to hire a lawyer then and there but you can surely have some research ready.
So, here we are going to take some leads on how to handle a car accident, which should be your immediate steps and how to decide on a good automobile lawyer. Let us have a look.
Car Accident and the Types of Claims
Be it minor or major; any car accident leaves a person mentally shaken and injured. It might not be the time of thinking of damages, but every person should be aware of the rights they are entitled to. If you think Auto accident only leaves you with one option of damages or claims, you are wrong. There exist three types of claims that can be demanded to post any auto accident.
1. Property Damage Claims – The property damage claims are strictly related to your car that has been damaged in the course of the accident. Any other property damaged in the car crash would not come under the purview of the Property Damage or PD Claim.
2. Personal Injury Protection Claim – According to the Personal Injury Protection Claim, the PIP Insurance are liable to cover 80% of your medical bills that have been caused by this particular car accident. Also, PIP or Personal Injury Protection Claim will also cover any other damage to properties that were in the car during the course of the accident but not a part of it. Any case of losing the ability to earn, losing the ability to fulfil marital duties or any kind of burial and funeral expenses will also be covered under this PIP claims.
3. Bodily Injury Claim – Bodily Injury is almost the same as PIP Claims, but it covers your bodily harm more extensively. Cost of long-term care will come under this section.
These claims are often elaborate, and lawsuits can go for years on settlement of these claims. However, if you are the victim of a car accident, these are the claims that you should put before lawyer and not settle according to your lawyer’s term.
Types of Lawsuits in case of a Car Accident
Car accidents can be of different types. In some cases, only one car can be involved. For example, if a car strikes any objects such as poles or trees or walls. The common one is two car accident or multi vehicles pile ups. However, in every car crash or accident, there exist some factors which decide the fate of the particular lawsuit later on. So, how many ways you can resolve a car accident dispute? Follow up.
1. Settlement – The most common and might be the most convenient way of resolving a car accident is through settlement. In this case, both the parties call their lawyers, and they reach on the point of settlement by calculating the damage. In this case, neither the victim nor the accused has to go to court for the claim.
2. Civil Suit – However, if the complainant or the victim of a car accident is not happy with the settlement offer, they can go to the court. Most people go with civil suits for the money settlement issue. This mostly happens when the car accident results in property damage or little bodily damage only.
3. Criminal Suit – Criminal suits in car crashes are not that uncommon as you might think it is. In those Auto accidents where any person gets hurt severely which might result in permanent disability or some cases, death – criminal suits can be filed against the accused for imprisonment or file or both. These criminal suits are mostly based on the clause of negligence or hit-and-run case.
Car Accidents – What should be Your Immediate Steps?
Before you can reach out for an attorney to assist you through the case, there are certain steps that you need to take immediately after an accident happens. For this purpose, you cannot wait for your attorney to get into the scene because that might be too late. Be a victim or an accused; there are certain steps that you never forget immediately after a car crash.
1. Stay at the Scene
This is one of the most important steps after a crash; especially if you are an accused. Even if you leave on account of bodily harm, do not forget to intimate that information to the police. Never flee the scene, or else you will be charged with hit and run case.
2. Call the Police
The second step should be calling the police immediately. Assess the damage first and call the police as soon as you can. Also, get the names of the officers at the scene.
3. Exchange Information
It is not expected of people who were just in an accident to exchange information in a stable mindset. But it is one of the most important steps. If it is possible, try to collect the information from the other party whether you are a victim or an accused. This will help you in retrieving the basic insurance information. However, do not try to involve in conversation which can be used against you as a legal liability.
4. Talk to the Witnesses
If there are any witnesses, talk to them and collect their identity as well. This will help you further in processing legal procedure.
5. Inform Your Insurance Company
Promptly intimate your information about getting into an accident to your insurance company and tell them the extent of your injury. Also, keep them updated about the procedure as well.
6. Take Photos
Always take photos of a car accident scene. It can be used as evidence in a later stage of your legal procedure.
7. Get Property Damage Valuation
Obtain your insurance company’s property damage valuation as soon as possible. If not satisfied, provide them with a replacement quote.
8. Try not to Discuss Your Accident
Immediately after an accident, it is hard to tell who was at fault. Thus, try not to discuss the accident other than your attorney, insurance company or the police. If you are approached by people from the other side’s insurance company, reject them politely or else talk in front of an attorney.
9. Be Cautious about Early Settlement
There is a slim chance that the other party’s insurance company will try to talk you into an early settlement. This could be a big mistake considering that some injuries from any accident do show up until it is weeks later. Thus, you do not want to settle for less, and it is better to wait for full settlement in terms of your damage and medical bills.
When to Call an Attorney to Deal with Your Car Accident?
Not everyone has their attorney set up, waiting for an accident to happen. For someone who has already gotten through an accident, it might be a lot easier to deal with but not for a first timer. Thus, when you do not have an attorney selected to deal with the legal procedure of a car accident, postpone immediate decisions related to that particular car accident; especially an offer to settle.
Whether you have been the victim of a crash or you have been accounted for that particular crash, you will surely need an attorney to defend you properly and fill the loopholes. It is always better to call an attorney on the spot, but if you cannot, you need a perfect screening process to smoothen your legal proceedings.
How to Find the Best Suited Auto Accident Lawyer for Your Case?
For someone who has not ever dealt with any kind of legal procedure, it might be finding a pin in a haystack. However, it does not have to be that hard as we have listed out the possible ways to get your hand on the perfect Auto Accident Attorney.
1. Use Your Network
Car accidents are pretty common in every country across the world. Thus, the first step in finding an attorney could be through your close relatives or friends. If they have, ask them every other detail of their case and how their attorney handled that case. And if they have not, ask them to spread their network a little, and through this chain system, it is not hard to find you an attorney.
2. Use the Internet
In this digital era, there is nothing better to use than the internet. Google the best Auto accident attorneys in your area and you will get a list of them. It is not at all sceptical, and you can contact as many as lawyers you want before finding the right one to fight your case.
3. Check the Law Society Record
Not many people know about this trick, but you can easily track down the best Auto accident lawyers through the law society record. Every country has its own law society record that mentions the outcome of different cases and details of the lawyers who have been on those cases. It can be an easier way to track down the car crash cases and the best lawyers on record.
What are the Qualities that You Should Look for in an Auto Accident Attorney?
These points do not only apply to Auto accident lawyers alone. These are more generic points that should be applied to all the attorneys. Have a look.
1. Focus: Make sure your attorney is not juggling hundreds of cases at a time and paying full attention to the details of your case. In most of the cases, attorneys try to send their cases off to the hands of the junior lawyers. Make sure that does not happen with you as well.
2. Experience: The more experienced your lawyer, the better. However, do not only check the experience but also check whether the attorney particularly excels at cases like yours. If not, it is better to choose some other lawyer with less experience but more Auto accident oriented.
3. Reputation: The reputation of an attorney in case of a car crash is important as that will play a big role in playing the insurance company. And for that, you can use referrals. Also, you can check the lawyer’s website and the reviews for a rough idea.
What Questions Should You Not Miss Out while Interviewing Your Auto Accident Attorney?
As car accident cases can come under the purview of civil matter or criminal matter, it is of the utmost importance to interview before you hire them. The above points might give you a narrowed down list already, but without the interview, it would not be possible to choose the best amongst the lot.
Now, you cannot randomly or endlessly question an attorney. Thus, the questions should be specific and to the point to give you the right details that will help you decide in future. Have a look.
1. How Long have they been Practising in this Particular Field?
Depending on the importance and complexity of your case, the level of experience should change. If your case is not that complicated and you just need your attorney to provide you with some basic knowledge, 5 to 8 practice years might suffice. But if your case has a higher level of complication that includes the death or grievous hurt on the part of someone, you might need someone who is in this field for the past 20 or 30 years to handle the case with grace.
2. Are they Flexible in Both Civil and Criminal Suits?
Car accident cases are mostly of the personal injury nature or civil suit nature, but in some cases, they can raise the criminal characteristic as well. Thus, you need to ask your attorney well whether they are comfortable in handling cases of both civil and criminal nature.
3. How are they Going to Proceed with Your Case?
Most of the people do not burden them with the legal procedure details, but they should. Ask your attorney to simplify the procedure minus the legal terms so that you can easily process them. This will not only give you a clear picture of your position, but it will also give you the ability to provide any input if you feel necessary.
4. How Much Participation on Your Part is Expected?
Does your attorney need you on every other court date? Does your attorney need your active participation in this case? These questions will give you a clear picture of how you can plan your next 6 to 8 months depending on the structure and complications of the case.
5. How will they Keep You Updated?
It is better to clear out this question at the first level or else confusion will overshadow the importance of the case. If the norm of your attorney is through the mail, it will give you a warning not to skip checking your emails. Also, if you wish, you can ask your attorney to keep you posted through texts or calls as well.
6. What will be the Fee Structure?
Most of the lawyers discuss the fee structure with the client on their own. But he/she does not; you need to raise the question at your first sitting. If your attorney has a fixed fee structure which is not dependent on the contingency of the case procedure, you can discuss that easily. But most of the attorneys work on a contingency or “no win-no pay” basis; i.e. you have to give them a percentage of your settlement award to the attorney as a part of the fee. One third of the award or 40% of the settlement is the common percentage of an attorney in case of an Auto Accident.
And if you can see eye to eye with your chosen attorney on all of these questions as mentioned above, you have a winner! Now, all you have to do is to keep you calm and go through the process with the aid of your attorney. Car accidents can be life shattering incidents. But the best you can do is not to skip any legal procedure on the way to keep your future safe and secure. Good luck!