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Car accidents

What Should I do if someone hits my car? What happens if I am hit by a car?

If you were hit by a car, first of all, don’t panic. If anyone is injured, you should err on the side of safety and call an ambulance. Make sure to notify law-enforcement and request their presence at the scene of the accident to facilitate the exchange of information. Do not take another driver up on his or her invitation to handle it between insurance companies without the need for a police officer, or worse, to “resolve” issues without reporting the accident to the insurance companies. Avoid making any unnecessary statements to the other driver or anyone else at the scene. Stick to the facts. Don’t discuss fault for the accident, but do take note of any statements that you hear from the other driver or from a witness. If there are bystander witnesses, make sure to get their contact information and find out what they saw. Take pictures of any and all damage, of any visible injuries, and of the scene of the accident.

If you were hit by a car as a pedestrian, all of the above applies with equal force. Make certain to obtain the driver’s insurance information and to obtain a photo of the license plate number of the vehicle.

When the vehicles and any related damage have been addressed and you have been checked out by a medical professional, it is time to contact an experienced personal injury attorney for next steps and further advice. Many steps in the early phases of a case may be mishandled if an attorney is not attending to them as they happen. The sooner you get advice specific to your situation, the more an attorney can do to help you.

What happens after a car accident?

Certain things always occur after a car accident. Generally speaking, the accident is reported by one of the drivers or witnesses to the accident. In fact, accidents are required to be reported above a certain damage threshold. More importantly, having a law enforcement officer present helps protect everyone involved from decisions being made later based upon inaccurate information. In addition, police officers often obtain evidence above and beyond what an individual driver would be in a position to obtain, and usually come equipped with the right tools to do so. Finally, a police officer is in a good position to perceive information and facts because he or she was not involved in the accident. The physical and emotional stress of being in an accident can be overwhelming. It is not uncommon for cases that go to trial in court after a car accident to involve disputes about important facts. At trial, the drivers are vulnerable to criticism that their memories of the event may be adversely affected by their physical or emotional trauma at the time of the upsetting events. Also, the law generally requires drivers involved in an accident to exchange insurance information. Leaving the scene of an accident without providing contact and insurance information may even constitute the crime of hit-and-run. Whether or not anyone was injured, serious consequences may be imposed for leaving the scene of an accident. Finally, The individuals involved in an accident should evaluate and address any damage done, both damage to property and any physical injuries resulting from the crash. When it comes to property damage, this is most readily done by taking photographs or video. It may be necessary to obtain a tow truck if the vehicles cannot be driven without causing additional damage. Physical injuries should always be evaluated as soon as possible, ideally by paramedics, but with a visit to emergency or urgent care if an immediate assessment is not possible. Victims of a car accident should not assume that they are not seriously injured if they feel only a little pain immediately following the accident. The shock of a traumatic incident often suppresses pain levels in the immediate aftermath of a collision. Also, many injuries may not be immediately evident to the naked eye and new manifestations of tissue damage commonly continue to arise in the hours or days following a collision. For these reasons, the safest bet is to get fully evaluated as soon as possible after a car accident and reevaluated as soon as possible in the event of any new or changing symptoms.

What should I say if someone is injured in a car accident?

As with other facts that could become disputed between parties involved in a car accident, the nature and extent of any injuries or pain should not be discussed in person at the scene of an accident except with law-enforcement or medical personnel. For that matter, don’t talk about fault for the collusion either, even if it seems beyond dispute. Often, the stress and trauma of an accident will distort perception and it is not uncommon for the same factors to mask symptoms of an injury. For these and many other reasons it is always best to keep your thoughts to yourself and share them only with emergency response professionals and your attorney after an accident.

When should I get a lawyer after a car accident?

Have you ever heard the expression, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” In no context is this saying more true than in the context of an injury case. Obtaining a lawyer as soon as you can after a car accident, especially if your injuries turn out to be serious, will go far toward protecting your legal rights at the outset. This is always preferable to trying to restore them after they have already been violated. If your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company is telling you that you should work directly with them or seem in a hurry to cut you a check, there’s a reason why. The insurance company stands to profit from unsuspecting car accident victims without personal injury lawyers, by sweet talking them into taking a quick buck before the extent of their injuries becomes clear. Many such insurance adjusters are not above taking advantage and setting traps for the unwary. This is how many insurance companies, especially those with notoriously low premium rates, can keep profit margins high. Don’t fall for it. Follow the advice of previous generations instead and spend an ounce of prevention by calling a car accident lawyer sooner rather than later.

What symptoms might I have after a car accident?

The variety of injuries that are possible from a car accident is as vast as the variety of people involved in them. High speeds and the enormous mass of today’s vehicles, as well as the variety of driving circumstances that precede an accident, render it beyond the predictive power of  even the most brilliant statisticians how the human body will be harmed in any given car crash. That being said, some patterns can be found in the body‘s reaction to physical and mental trauma. The most pervasive is that it almost always takes time for the full extent of a person’s injuries to manifest. Right after an accident, the body and mind are still in fight or flight mode. It quite literally takes time for the adrenaline to wear off and make way for pain signals. Even then, the aches and pains felt closest in time to the accident may not be the same symptoms as those that develop in the weeks and months following the collision.

Also, due to the effect of rapid deceleration on the human body in many accidents, it is very common for victims to experience shearing forces that cause damage to the soft disks cushioning the vertebrae in the spine, the connective joints throughout the body, ligaments, muscles, or even organs. The best way to improve your chances of a full return to health following an accident is to get checked out early, follow your doctor’s instructions when getting care, and get checked out again anytime symptoms change or worsen. A car accident attorney can help provide more specific suggestions rregarding the legal implications of various treatment options.

Should I go to the hospital after a car accident?

It is always better to be safe than sorry. The stress and excitement of a car accident can easily mask the sometimes subtle indications of a serious injury. Medical providers at the emergency room of your local hospital are in a uniquely good position to be able to assess and identify any critical injuries. This is especially important when the accident was at significant speeds or was otherwise more forceful than that of a “typical” fender bender. Another option is to call for an ambulance and be checked out by the very capable EMTs in your community. If cost is a concern, at a very minimum you should take the time to be immediately evaluated at an urgent care or similar low cost clinic. The money you may spend will be worth every penny In terms of the protection and peace of mind that it offers.

What happens if I am injured in an Uber?

While it is a good rule of thumb after any accident, it is especially important if injured in an accident while riding in an Uber, a vehicle hit by an Uber, or as a pedestrian hit by an Uber to document, document, document. Make sure you obtain the Uber driver’s contact information, ideally from an unexpired drivers license. Make sure also to obtain his or her insurance information, photos of any damage and any injuries, and the names and contact information of any witnesses. Take note of what was occurring with regard to the driver’s Uber app at the time of the collision as this can impact the availability of insurance coverage provided by Uber. Was the drive en route to pick up a passenger? Was the driver bringing a passenger to his or her destination? If neither, did the driver have the Uber app open?

If you are injured while riding in an Uber, save everything. Take a screenshot of all information related to your Uber ride, including any correspondence with the driver, any notifications related to the ride, and your receipt. Make sure to verify that all of the information in the app is correct, such as the driver’s photo and the license plate, if you didn’t do so already at the start of the drive. Avoid making statements about the incident except to first responders. Write down any statements that you remember being made by your driver or anyone else involved in the accident. After getting medical attention for any injuries, protect your rights by speaking with an Uber accident attorney as soon as possible.

What happens if I am in an accident without insurance?

If you were involved in an accident without insurance, but the accident was not your fault, you’re most likely in luck… this time. In Washington State, you are entitled to recover fully for your injuries from the driver who was at fault for the collision even if you did not have car insurance at the time of the crash, assuming he or she has adequate insurance to cover your damages. This is not universally the case. Several states have what are called “no pay no play” statues that limit an uninsured driver’s recovery to only his or her actual expenses, such as medical bills and property damage. “No pay no play” states generally do not allow an uninsured driver to recover for his or her pain and suffering or other general damages.

If you were involved in an accident without liability insurance that was your fault, you are unfortunately in many ways out of luck. While you can get your medical bills paid if you have health insurance, your other losses such as pain, suffering, disability, etc. are your own responsibility. In addition, anyone injured or suffering damage in the collision will, or their attorneys will, likely come after you to make them whole for their losses, including property damage, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

What happens if I am hit by someone without insurance or an underinsured driver?

If you are hit by someone without insurance or an underinsured driver, it is critical that you do two important things at the scene of the accident. Number one, as always, it is imperative to request and wait for law-enforcement assistance at the scene and an ambulance if you are injured. Number two, report the accident to your own insurance company. They will be taking care of the incident if you have uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage. In addition, it is important to get treatment for your injuries, which can be processed through insurance if you have it or health insurance if you don’t have PIP.

Should I sue for personal injury after a car accident?

Lawsuits exist for the purpose of resolving disputes between people. The purpose of a civil case specifically is to bring the assistance of the court system to bear in resolving non-criminal disputes seeking money damages or other relief. There is nothing that should be taboo about bringing a lawsuit in and of itself. Sometimes a formal lawsuit after a car accident is helpful and necessary, and sometimes it is unnecessary. Whether or not a lawsuit is necessary depends on the circumstances of the individual case. Often, a case can be settled without a formal lawsuit, but the proposed settlement may very well not be commensurate with the actual value of the case if it were to be tried to a jury. The value of a case may not be readily apparent to an insurance adjuster or other financial decision maker, and it is only upon preparing the case for a trial by jury that its strengths and ultimately its value become undeniable. For this reason, it is quite often if not usually the case that better settlements or recoveries can be obtained by bringing a lawsuit for personal injuries after a car accident.

What will happen in a lawsuit if I am rear ended?

A rear-end accident has much in common with other car accidents. After being rear ended, you should take the same steps that you would after any other accident, including getting checked out medically as early as possible and anytime your symptoms change, avoiding making statements at the scene, getting contact information from any witnesses, requesting the assistance of a police officer, and writing down notes of what you observe at the scene of the accident shortly after it occurs. A rear end accident is unique in that liability of the following driver is generally less likely to be disputed by his or her insurance company than in other types of accidents. This is because of what’s called the following car doctrine, which is a legal rule stating that a following car is presumptively at fault if it hits the vehicle in front of it. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, it is often the case that Insurance companies are easier to deal with when the victim was rear-ended by the at fault driver.

Another unique thing about rear-end accident is the frequency with which injuries occur. The biomechanics of a rear-end collision so often cause spinal injuries that the phrase “whiplash” came about to describe this anatomical scenario. Injuries anywhere in the spine after a rear-end accident are extremely common, and in particular the neck is very vulnerable to whiplash injury. Of all of the levels in the cervical spine, the neck is especially susceptible to injury in a rear end accident at levels C2 to C3 and C5 to C6.

Can I sue my auto insurance company?

A customer has the right to sue their auto insurance company if the auto insurance company wrongfully causes him or her to incur damages. As a practical matter, it may or may not be necessary to bring a lawsuit against a driver’s own auto insurance company after an accident. One scenario in which bringing a lawsuit against an injured party’s own auto insurance company may be necessary is if the driver at fault for the accident does not carry sufficient insurance coverage to cover all of the damage or injuries caused by the accident. In this situation, the innocent party must rely on his or her own coverage to pay for the harm caused by the uninsured or underinsured driver, called UIM insurance. A lawsuit may be necessary if the driver and his or her own insurance company cannot agree on the value of the damages.

What is my whiplash injury worth?

Every injury is different. Anyone who suggests that any two injuries are the same has never had to prove an injury case at trial. What a case is worth depends on many different factors, some of which can change or develop during the lifespan of a case. The variables include, among many others, who the insurance company is, whether or not you have any pre-existing injuries or conditions, the anatomical nature of the injury, the severity of the crash, and how the driver and the injured person are likely to be perceived by a jury in terms of their respective believability. Neck and back injuries can be more difficult to recoup their full value because insurance companies tend to be overconfident in their ability to convince a jury that someone with a neck or a back injury is exaggerating or faking their injuries. That being said, neck and back injuries after a whiplash incident can be the most severe and debilitating injuries possible. Therefore, the experience and the willingness of an injury attorney if the case should go to trial are very important in maximizing the value of a whiplash injury.

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