When you are involved in a car accident and suffer serious injuries and other damages due to the actions of another driver, you will be facing a number of challenges in the months ahead. Along with receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you will be facing the prospect of a loss of income, since you will be unable to work. Since you will need significant compensation for your damages, it is critical you know your legal rights from the start. To get a favorable resolution to your situation, keep these tips in mind if you do choose to press charges against someone who was at fault for your car accident.
Say as Little as Possible
From the time you speak to the other driver and police until an insurance company comes calling, know that you are not legally required to give detailed statements in most of these situations. Do not feel obligated to give a statement on what happened until you have spoken to an attorney. Keep in mind that not giving a statement right away may delay the process a bit, but it could also give you a better chance of getting the kind of settlement you want.
When you are talking to others involved in the accident, witnesses, and police, you should always remember to not say such things as “I’m okay” or “I’m sorry,” since those you say this to will assume you are accepting fault for the accident and saying you are not seriously injured. It can also be inferred from your brushing off statements that you didn’t perceive the incident to be severe. Do try to find witnesses at the scene who can vouch for what happened or ask if there are any cameras nearby that might have recorded the incident.
Filing a Civil Claim
Since police will be in charge of filing criminal charges against the other driver, especially if the driver violated major traffic laws or was intoxicated, your focus should instead be on filing a civil claim and possibly a lawsuit. Therefore, you should immediately hire a drunk driving accident lawyer to advise you on how to proceed. Also, remember that while a civil claim and criminal charges are separate from one another, a criminal conviction can be used as evidence should you file a civil claim.
The civil claim filed is there to help you collect proper compensation for any damages you and your vehicle incurred. The claim will be especially useful if you are having trouble getting the other driver’s insurance company to pay out the claim, regardless of whether it was an issue of the other driver being intoxicated or not. By hiring a lawyer who specializes in drunk driving accidents, a strong case can be built on your behalf.
Accepting a Settlement
Once you file a claim, the insurance company of the other driver will do all it can to either deny your claim or try instead to convince you to take a settlement that is less than you need and deserve. An insurance company may try to deny your claim for a variety of reasons. For example, they may say that you waited too long to file the claim. They may also say that any injuries or damages that occurred were pre-existing and they are not liable to pay out compensation to you.
When this happens, your lawyer can be invaluable in providing advice. Since you are not legally obligated to accept the first settlement offer, don’t do so if you and your lawyer feel a better deal is needed. You should really only accept a settlement offer that fully covers all of the damages, medical bills, or repairs that you have already had to pay for out of pocket. It might take some time to get the compensation you think you deserve, but it will be worth it to work with a lawyer and potentially take the insurance company to court.
Don’t Immediately File a Lawsuit
Finally, never choose to immediately file a lawsuit before trying to settle with the insurance company on your own. If you do, this may hurt your chances of winning, since the court will wonder why the matter could not be settled outside a courtroom.
If you are having trouble getting the other party’s insurance company to respond to your claim, you can hire an attorney to take care of the matter for you. Hiring an attorney doesn’t mean that you’re filing a suit, but it does show the insurance company that you are serious about getting your compensation. If you don’t have a go to attorney, it is possible to file the claim through your own insurance and have them handle getting compensated or reimbursed by the other insurance company. Insurance companies have their own lawyers to handle disputes like this, which could simplify your life significantly. Lawsuits tend to take longer to resolve than out-of-court settlements, which could delay your ability to get financial compensation when you need it most.
Getting in a car accident is a stressful event and is made more stressful when you have to press charges against the at-fault driver. However, there are a few steps you can take to make the whole process a little bit easier. By knowing your legal rights and working hand-in-hand with your attorney, you can emerge from your car accident with compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.