if you have unfortunately been in a car accident, you will probably have no idea what to do next.
You may lose consciousness, be in shock, and hurting from broken bones or other injuries. As soon as you are able, there are things you need to do quickly to make sure you can get your car repaired or totaled, your injuries healed, and compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. In almost 40 years of representing people hurt in car accident claims and lawsuits, __
The insurance company for the person who crashed into you knows exactly what it has to do to pay you as little money as possible. It is hoping that you don’t follow this advice.
1. Document the details
Even if the other driver just wants to exchange information, you should always call 911.
If property damage is more than $1,000, police are required to write a detailed report which you can rely later on in your negotiations with the other driver’s adjuster or in court, if you decide to take your case to a jury. So don’t let officers just hand you a form you have to fill out yourself and drive off.
Your vehicle needs to be fixed or totaled. You may also incur medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. If the at-fault driver later denies he was at fault or fails to cooperate with his company, your chance of being repaid is difficult, if not impossible, without a police officer backing you up.
When the police arrive, do not admit fault (unless of course you were to blame – then you need to contact your liability insurance company.)
If you are physically able, also do the following:
- Take photos of the vehicles, the other driver, the scene, and any visible injuries you sustained;
- Get info from the other driver (driver’s license, insurance company, policy number, and policy limits if he has those available, make and model of vehicle, and what he says);
- Write down contact info for any witnesses and what they saw; and
- Sketch a diagram of the scene and the position of the vehicles before, at impact and after and make notes about how the crash happened.
2. Fight vehicle damage tricks
Some companies deliberately underestimate collision damage while others total a vehicle that could be repaired, a problem if it is paid for and you don’t want to start making payments.
Still others insist on making people use their own body shops or accept used parts or shoddy work.
Sometimes it is beneficial to file on your own collision damage policy. You can get your deductible back.
There are many other tricks that are used to keep the property payment as low as possible.
3. Get medical treatment immediately
You should go to the emergency room (or at the least, your PCP or a minor emergency clinic) if you are feeling pain within 24 hours.
Pain often is delayed. Ignoring it can make your physical problems worse. Many people naturally hope that the pain will just go away by itself.
When it doesn’t, trying to convince a skeptical adjuster that you had to wait for two weeks after the crash to see a doctor will be a waste of time. He will argue that you were not hurt and refuse to pay your damages, and you will have to file suit and convince a jury.
The insurance company is not allowed to stop you from getting the medical treatment you need, although the adjuster may steer you to the company’s biased doctors or discourage you from going at all. If you don’t
No. The insurance company cannot limit the type of medical treatment you receive up to the limits of the policy. In fact, it is legally obligated to compensate you for all “reasonable” medical treatment with the best care available. Just make sure that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident and all keep records of appointments and expenses. If necessary, we can assist you in finding appropriate medical care, even if you have no health insurance.
4. Do not release entire case
Every now and then, an unethical company tells the injured victim that he has to sign a simple release form that supposedly just releases them from liability for property damage but instead, the language releases it from all liability (including for personal injuries).
When the injured person attempts to have his medical bills and other damages paid, the full release is waved in his face. Careful attention to the wording of documents is essential.
You should never sign documents that you do not understand. The help of an attorney can be invaluable.
5. Don’t trust an insurance company
We can’t tell you how often we hear a new client tell us they were shocked that the other driver’s adjuster was not treating them fairly.
Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, not to pay people who claim they were injured in a car wreck
2) Signing the insurance company’s release form may damage your case
The insurance company has given me property damage and medical release forms. Should I sign them without a lawyer?
No! Anything that you are asked to sign, without fully understanding what it is and its potential effects, should be avoided. Never sign a release for medical records or property damage until you have spoken to us. Our office will evaluate what you are being asked to sign at no charge and let you know if it is okay to do so
3) Hiring an attorney that has experience handling car accident injury cases in Louisiana may benefit your case
In the past, I’ve used a family attorney for things like wills, taxes and real estate sales. Do I really need to work with an attorney who focuses his practice in accident and injury law?
Just as different doctors have different specialties to treat different illnesses, attorneys generally specialize in specific aspects of the law. You wouldn’t ask your family doctor to perform brain surgery, so don’t expect your brother-in-law tax attorney to handle an accident claim. When taking on a big insurance company, you need a team who knows what they’re up against, and how to best represent your case. We keep up with current laws, court decisions, and regulations affecting accident and injury cases.
4) The bill collectors can be stopped
My medical bills are piling up, and my credit is being jeopardized. What can I do to stop the bill collector’s calls?
There are many state and federal laws that protect you from harassment from bill collectors. However, if you do owe money, in the long run, your creditors will have to be paid. At the Law Office of Keith L. Magness, LLC, we can negotiate with your creditors on your behalf and work to set up special arrangements to halt the bill collectors and delay immediate payment by having your medical bills paid directly from your future settlement.
6) What to do if injured by an uninsured or under-insured driver
I was injured in an accident with an uninsured driver. My insurance policy provides for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, but I am confused about what that means.
Unfortunately, many drivers’ insurance policies – if they have them – have limits that are far below what you may deserve as an accident victim. However, your own policy might protect you against this, and you may even be able to make a claim against your own insurance company. At this point, though, you should understand another secret. Even though you’ve been paying premiums to it for years, your insurance company wants to pay you as little as possible for your pain and suffering. Don’t get angry; it’s just business.
Let us review your policy for you and if a claim against your own insurance company is possible, we will fight to get you the money you deserve.
7) If you are getting a fair offer from the insurance adjuster
I thought about negotiating with the insurance company on my own. How can I know if the insurance company’s offer is fair?
You can’t. Fair is a pretty subjective term. What you may think is fair is likely going to be different from what the insurance adjuster thinks. Remember, he works for the company you are making a claim against and is paid to negotiate and settle your claim for the lowest possible amount. That’s why you need the help of an experienced law firm. Based on numerous settlements, we have the knowledge and expertise to help ensure that you get a truly fair settlement for your claim
Why does the insurance adjuster say that they can easily settle my case without me involving a lawyer?
You are not an expert in these matters and the insurance company is. As unkind as it may seem, it is not illegal for the adjuster to try and devalue what your claim is worth. The simple fact is the insurance companies don’t want you to know what the real value of your case is.
You will need an attorney to represent you if you want to maximize your settlement. In fact, a study by the Insurance Research Council showed that, on average, people who hired an attorney received three and a half times as much money as people who decided to go it alone. Call the Law Office of Keith L. Magness, LLC today. We want to be on your team.
If the insurance company has already made you an offer, our guarantee is that we will recover more money (net dollars) on your behalf. And if we don’t, we will not charge you a fee – GUARANTEED!
3Despite friendly but vague promises, they usually fail to pay reasonable compensation to people who are not represented by a lawyer.
Instead, they use the 3 D’s: Deny, Delay, and Defend.
Hire a good injury lawyer if you need help
For almost 40 years, Berenson Injury Law has helped car accident victims recover the compensation they deserve and get their lives back to where they were before the crash.
Our 98% success rate means that the odds are excellent that we can get you the results you want.
We have recovered tens of millions of dollars for people just like you. And we never charge a fee or expenses until we win your case.
If you have questions about your collision, please contact us by calling 817-885-8000 (toll-free at 1-801-8585) or by clicking here.