If you’re hurt in an auto accident, your first thoughts typically do not involve protecting your rights. Confusion and chaos often leave drivers and passengers unsure of what to do first after a car wreck. While we hope that you’re never involved in an accident, Liggett Law Group knows that being prepared is the best way to make sure the correct steps are taken after a crash. Here are the 10 most important steps to take after a car accident.
1) Call for help
If you or anyone else involved is injured, call 9-1-1 and ask for help. If no injuries are immediately apparent, a call for emergency services may not be necessary, but police should still be called to the scene. Having an accident report on record will be important if you need to file a claim for damages and injuries.
2) Get medical treatment
Your immediate health and safety are of the utmost importance and should be your first concern after a car accident. If paramedics arrive on the scene, make sure you are checked out and any injuries are documented and treated.
Even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt, it’s important to see a doctor, whether at the accident scene or by going to the emergency room after the crash. Many common car accident injuries, such as whiplash, concussions or other traumatic brain injuries don’t show up right away. It’s important to have documentation from a medical professional to show the link between your auto accident and any injuries you sustain.
Once you’ve been checked out, make sure to follow all of the doctor’s treatment instructions, including going to any follow-up appointments.
3) Gather information & document evidence
Most drivers know to get the insurance and contact information of other parties in a car accident, but there’s much more to document at a crash site, including:
- Names and contact information of witnesses
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Photos and videos of vehicle damage
- Photos and videos of physical injuries
- Details about when and where the accident took place
- Detailed notes of what you remember about the accident, including the moments leading up to it and what happened afterward, with updates added as events unfold
Memories can fade quickly, and the documentation mentioned here can help you keep a clear recollection of how the car accident occurred.
4) Don’t admit fault
One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to NOT admit fault. It’s a common response for a car wreck victim to apologize to those involved, even if the crash was someone else’s fault.
Sometimes, a driver may believe the accident was their fault, but after the evidence is evaluated, it turns out there were other factors to blame and they were not at fault for the car accident. Our car accident attorneys recommend being very careful when speaking with the police, insurance providers, and/or any other parties involved to avoid inadvertently admitting responsibility for the crash. Any indication that you were at fault could seriously impact your ability to recover damages later.
5) Hiring an Attorney
The insurance claim and legal proceedings should be guided by an experienced personal injury attorney who will make sure you are fully informed of all relevant laws and processes, especially in complex cases such as getting hit by someone without insurance or being involved with a hit and run accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can assist victims that are hurt in a car accident that was the result of someone else’s carelessness.
A skilled personal injury attorney will stand up for the victim’s rights and work to safeguard their interests at all times. Attorneys who focus their practices on car accidents can assist with every part of a lawsuit or claim and can successfully negotiate a fair settlement or take your case to trial before a judge or jury.
Additionally, a knowledgeable attorney will know how to establish a winning case and get their clients the financial compensation they deserve. They will collect the evidence needed to prove liability and seek the damages one is owed. Read our guide on how to choose a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been involved in a wreck and want to make sure to hire a competent attorney.
6) Establishing a Case and Proving Liability
Victims of negligence must comprehend that they are not liable for the expenses incurred as a result of someone else’s negligence. Even if the at-fault driver had no intention of hurting anyone, victims may be able to recover financial compensation for their losses following an automobile accident and the resulting physical injuries.
Numerous things can go wrong in a car collision, but most of them can be avoided. Traffic crashes are frequently the result of carelessness on the part of one or more drivers. The main way to prove liability is to show that one of the drivers was acting carelessly, whether this was texting and driving or driving under the influence.
To prove liability and show negligence, a personal injury attorney must establish all four elements of negligence, which include:
By proving that the driver owed a duty to another driver, breached that duty through their actions or inactions, and that breach caused the accident which caused damages to the victim, your lawyer will make a clear showing of negligence and establish the liability in the case.
7) Beginning Settlement Discussions
Engaging a skilled auto accident attorney is the first step in any settlement process. After a collision, consulting with a car accident lawyer might aid in estimating the case’s worth. When a client meets with a lawyer to discuss their case, the attorney will be familiar with the particulars and circumstances and be able to obtain the necessary evidence. After that, a lawyer might be ready to defend their client’s rights by speaking with an insurance company.
Once the parties have submitted a claim and the insurance company has proof of all medical expenses and losses, the insurance adjuster will often make a settlement offer. To get you the compensation you are due, your attorney will negotiate with the insurance adjuster to ensure that they do not take advantage of you through a low settlement.
Settlement discussions can drag on, and an auto accident lawyer may employ expert witnesses to help strengthen the case and get the most for their clients.
8) Litigating a Car Accident Case
The maximum amount of time that parties involved have to file a lawsuit and begin the judicial procedure is known as the statute of limitations. In Texas, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury cases.
Before filing a lawsuit, there is typically an option to resolve the problem; however, it can be essential to go to court if there are disagreements over important evidence, such as showing who was at fault or the number of a claimant’s injuries.
An automobile accident case could take several months to several years to complete from start to finish. The length of time depends on a variety of factors.
The Litigation Process
Civil lawsuits, also known as civil proceedings, include lawsuits like those in car accident cases where victims seek compensation for losses resulting from wrecks.
The plaintiff, who is the party initiating the action, first submits a petition or complaint to the court. The defendant, who is answering, answers by filing paperwork with the court.
The next phase of the litigation process is discovery, which enables the parties to share data and supporting materials for their respective claims and defenses. Considering that both the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s legal teams must gather and examine every piece of evidence relating to the accident, including accident scene photos, the police report, witness statements, medical records, and medical bills, this phase of the lawsuit generally takes the longest.
Although there is no set time limit, a motor vehicle accident trial normally only lasts one or two days. These trials could either go before a jury or a judge in a procedure known as a bench trial. The jury or judge will render a decision on the case after all the evidence has been presented.
9) Damages Awarded in a Car Accident Case
After a car accident, the amount of compensation you might be entitled to be determined by the nature of your injuries, the degree of the automobile’s damage, the insurance coverage that each driver had, and other factors. To obtain compensation for their injuries, drivers may be able to make a claim with the relevant insurance companies as well as file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party or parties.
Most personal injury cases will result in an award of both non-economic and economic damages.
Non-Economic Damages in a Car Accident
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, compensate car accident injury victims for non-financial losses sustained as a result of the crash. Common non-economic losses include emotional anguish, pain and suffering, a decline in quality of life, disfigurement, and a temporary or permanent disability. Since there won’t be a bill or receipt for mental anguish, non-economic damages are more difficult to demonstrate. Texas law does not limit the amount of non-economic damages a victim can recover in a personal injury case unless the case involves the government.
Economic Damages in a Car Accident
Compensation for out-of-pocket costs incurred as a result of the car accident is included in economic damages, which are also known as special damages. Economic damages are those that can be directly linked to the collision, such as vehicle repair or replacement costs. Economic losses will also include lost wages and earning potential if the victim’s injuries prevent them from working. Additionally, these damages will pay for all medical costs, including ongoing therapy and treatment charges as well as previous and future medical bills.
10) Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Lubbock, Texas
No matter how minor your auto accident is, it’s always a good idea to consult a car accident attorney before discussing the crash with an insurance company or accepting any settlement offers. Insurance companies will often make a quick settlement offer that is far lower than you are entitled to. If you accept this offer, the claim is completed, even if you realize later that it didn’t cover all of your damages.
An experienced trial lawyer at Liggett Law Group will negotiate the best possible settlement because we know when you are getting a fair amount. If negotiations are unsuccessful, we will aggressively pursue your right to fair compensation in court.