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Car Accident Injury FAQ

Car Accident Injury FAQ

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an automobile accident, you probably have many questions, including whether you should hire a car accident attorney. This article seeks to answer your most common questions.

I've just been injured in a car accident. What do I do first?

Always seek medical attention first, especially if your injuries are serious. Check with any passengers you have. Put on your hazard lights, and exit the vehicle only if it is safe to do so. If you are stable enough, you should contact the local law enforcement agency, so officers can write up a police report. This report can help you later if you have a dispute with the other driver or person you believe caused the accident.

If you are physically able, you'll also want to photograph your injuries and damage to your vehicle. These photos will help your case if you decide to hire an auto accident attorney.

You should exchange basic information -- your name, phone number, address and insurance provider and policy number -- with any other people involved in the accident. If there are any witnesses, you'll want their names and contact information as well. Make a mental note of the time of day, road conditions, weather and location of the accident.

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What should I not do after an accident?

It is best not to have any other discussion with the drivers and/or passengers in any other car involved. If you admit the accident was your fault, this could be used against you later if you try to collect compensation from the other driver.

If law enforcement has been called and you don't require immediate medical attention, do not leave the scene until an officer arrives, talks to you and then allows you to leave.

What happens when I contact my insurance company?

Call your insurance company as soon as possible. If you want to file a claim, you'll want to get the claims process started as soon as you can. If you live in a no-fault state, you can seek compensation only from your own insurance company. You do not need to prove that another person's behavior caused your accident.

In many no-fault states, however, you may be able to sue the other driver if the related medical costs and auto repairs exceed your policy's limits.

If you are in a fault state, you'll want to determine whether the other driver has sufficient coverage to reimburse you for your car accident injury-related medical costs and repairs to your car. If the other driver is under-insured, you may want to consider hiring a car accident attorney.

Most insurance policies will only cover your economic losses -- your actual medical expenses and auto repair costs. Loss of wages is considered an economic loss. However, policies generally do not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, compensation for emotional distress and loss of spousal companionship. The only way to recover for those losses is by lawsuit.

When should I consider hiring a car accident lawyer?

Every personal injury lawsuit involves two basic issues: Damages and liability. You'll need to prove the accident damaged your vehicle and/or injured you to the point you needed medical care. Then you'll need to show the other driver, the defendant in your lawsuit, failed to use reasonable care in handling his vehicle.

Someone exercising reasonable care would:

  • Operate the vehicle at a safe rate of speed
  • Keep the vehicle under control while driving
  • Be on the lookout for all situations and hazards that could lead to an accident

Ultimately, a car accident attorney can tell you whether a lawsuit is likely to result in a financial award for you. Because most auto accident lawyers do not charge you for your first meeting, it costs you nothing to find out whether you have a strong case that can get you compensation for your accident-related costs.