Across the U.S., a car accident occurs about once every minute. While some are relatively minor, others have profound consequences resulting in severe injuries and death.
No one expects to be involved in an accident when they get behind the wheel. Still, most of us experience at least one vehicle accident in our lifetime. Knowing what to do following a car accident is vital for your health and for getting compensation for the injuries and damages you have suffered.
Tending to your car accident injuries
Immediately following a car accident, you should call 9-1-1. Others will likely do so as well, and that is good. When paramedics arrive, they may triage those with injuries, addressing the highest priority for care first.
Depending upon the depth of your injuries, they may treat you at the scene or transport you to a nearby emergency department for care. If they don’t take you for emergency care, have someone take you to urgent care or your own doctor for a complete examination. Some injuries, especially internal ones, may be masked by your heightened anxiety or shock from the accident.
What to do after receiving initial medical care
Once you are examined by a doctor and receive a diagnosis for your injuries, it is important to follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan. This is vital to your healing process and overall health. It can also be important for your potential legal claim.
If you choose not to follow your doctor’s orders, you allow the defendant’s insurance company and lawyer to negate the seriousness of your injuries and the pain and suffering you may be feeling.
Do not discuss the accident with anyone except first responders and law enforcement, your medical team, your loved ones, and your lawyer. However, you should call your insurance company to notify an agent of the accident. Then call a local, experienced car accident lawyer.
Why local? You need a lawyer knowledgeable with state and local traffic laws and someone familiar with the area in which your accident took place. As for experienced, you need someone who can and will navigate a well-guided lawsuit and is not afraid to take your case to the courtroom, if necessary.
Ask for a free initial legal consultation
Personal injury lawyers who have been in practice for some time offer their potential clients a free consultation. This allows the attorney to review the facts from the accident to see if they feel there is a basis for a lawsuit on your behalf. It also gives you a chance to meet your potential attorney.
When you have your initial consultation, the attorney will need:
- To know the day, time, and exact location of your accident
- To hear your accounting of the accident, including whom you feel was responsible
- Contact and insurance information for the other driver(s) involved
- A copy of the police report
- Photographs anyone may have taken of the accident or immediately following
- Contact information of witnesses
- Copies of your medical reports and bills
- Copies of repair estimates for your vehicle
- If you feel there is other beneficial information, be sure to share it with your lawyer. For example, if there was inclement weather at the time, which could have contributed to the accident.
What you should expect for your car accident attorney
If you were not at fault and the lawyer feels you have a viable case, they can proceed. You can now relax a bit and concentrate on rehabilitation for your injuries. Your car accident lawyer and their legal team will begin work on an investigation into the accident, determining fault and the reasoning behind it.
Driver neglect is the number one cause of car accidents.
Examples of neglect include:
- Distracted driving, including texting, talking on a mobile phone, or paying attention to kids in the backseat.
- Driver fatigue by spending too much time behind the wheel without respite, or simply driving when too tired to pay attention
- Driving above the speed limit or too fast for current traffic or weather conditions
- A failure to yield to traffic entering the roadway
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Determining fault and proving it are crucial to getting compensation in states that follow an at-fault rule.
At-fault versus no-fault
Most states in the U.S., including Texas, follow an at-fault rule. The person responsible for an accident or at fault is liable for the injuries that anyone else incurred and damages to the other vehicles involved.
There are a dozen states that have a no-fault rule. In those states, drivers must have personal injury protection insurance, which takes care of their injuries from a traffic accident regardless of who was at fault.
Statute of limitations for a traffic accident lawsuit
Every state follows its only regulations regarding a deadline for one to file a personal injury lawsuit including in the instance of a car accident. Some states offer a short window of just one year. Others allow up to five years.
Most states have a statute of limitations of between two and three years. In Texas, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a claim.
What compensation can you expect for your car accident injuries?
Through hiring a knowledgeable car accident attorney and filing a lawsuit, you hope to get your related bills paid and to receive compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured. Just how much depends upon your injuries and damages.
The compensation you could receive includes:
- Loss of income and benefits
- Reimbursement for medical bills
- Future loss of income, benefits, and medical expenses
- Repairs to or replacement of your vehicle
- Reimbursement for a rental car
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
While some forms of compensation equal your expense, such as your medical bills, other types of damages do not have a set price tag. Through their past case experiences and ability to research similar cases to yours, your car accident lawyer could arrive at a monetary figure appropriate for your non-economic damages.
The time to hire a car accident lawyer is now
If you have suffered injuries from a car accident, your medical care should be your first concern. Your second duty should be focused on finding a local personal injury lawyer to handle your legal case.
Look for a law firm with the experience and expertise to win your case, and get you proper compensation, allowing you to relax and take the time to recuperate from your injuries.