No one ever wants to be involved in a car accident, but if you do find yourself in such a situation, it's important to understand what happens after the accident— especially if you plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit. The steps you take in the aftermath of an accident can significantly impact the outcome of your case, so it's crucial that you take them carefully and with intention; knowing who investigates car accidents is a good start. While handling claims without an attorney is possible, having one gives you a significant advantage. Without an attorney, insurance companies and law enforcement might think they can take advantage of you because they know you don't have the knowledge or experience that a lawyer does. Having an attorney ensures you'll get the best possible outcome for your case. Morgan & Morgan has been handling car accident claims for decades and will do whatever it takes to protect your rights. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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How Do Police Officers Investigate Car Accidents?
Police officers are often the first responders to car accidents. As such, they play an essential role in investigating how the accident happened and determining who is at fault. The first thing a responding officer will do is secure the scene. This means ensuring everyone involved is safe and that no further harm can come to them. Once the scene is secure, the officer will assess the damage and injuries. The officer will call for medical assistance if anyone appears to be seriously hurt.
After ensuring that everyone is safe and that medical help is on the way if necessary, the officer will start collecting evidence. This includes looking for any evidence that could help explain what happened. Specifically, a police officer will do the following:
- Collect information from all parties involved in the accident. This includes exchanging obtaining information, taking down contact information, and getting statements from witnesses.
- Take photographs of the accident scene. This helps to document the location of the vehicles, any skid marks on the road, and any property damage that occurred due to the accident.
- Investigate possible contributing factors to the accident. This may include interviewing witnesses, reviewing surveillance footage, and checking for potential mechanical issues with the involved vehicles.
- Prepare a report. Once the officer has gathered all the evidence, they will prepare a report. This report includes a description of the accident, information about the parties involved, witness statements, and anything else that might be relevant to the case. Insurance companies will use the report to determine who is at fault for the accident and how much they should pay for damages. It can also be used by attorneys if anyone decides to file a lawsuit.
How Do Insurance Adjusters Investigate Car Accidents?
An insurance adjuster is (supposed to be) an objective third party who will investigate the details of your car accident and then determine who was at fault. The adjuster will also calculate the damages you are entitled to receive.
The first step the adjuster will take is to obtain a copy of the police report. The police report will list the names of the drivers involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses. The report will also indicate if either driver was cited for the accident.
Next, the adjuster will interview the parties involved in the accident. This includes the drivers and any witnesses. The adjuster will take detailed notes of each person's account of what happened.
The adjuster will also inspect the vehicles involved in the accident. The adjuster will look for damage to the vehicles and determine how the accident happened based on the location and type of damage.
The last step in the investigation is to review any available evidence, such as photographs or video footage of the accident. This evidence can help confirm or refute accounts given by the drivers and witnesses.
After conducting this investigation, the insurance adjuster will determine who was at fault for the accident and calculate what damages you are entitled to receive.
How do Lawyers Investigate Car Accidents?
Although it may seem like lawyers just go to court and fight for their clients, a lot goes on behind the scenes. This is especially true when it comes to car accident cases. To build a strong case, lawyers must investigate every aspect of the accident. Once the lawyer has all the facts, they will begin to analyze who was at fault for the accident. They typically take the following steps:
Review the Police Report
One of the first things a lawyer will do is review the police report. This information can be helpful in understanding what happened and identifying potential witnesses.
After reviewing the police report, the lawyer will start contacting witnesses. Some of these witnesses may have been listed in the police report, while others may have been identified through other means. It's essential to speak with as many witnesses as possible to get multiple perspectives on what happened. These interviews can be done over the phone, through email, or in person.
Obtain Video Footage
If there is video footage of the accident, lawyers will want to obtain that footage. Video footage can provide valuable evidence as to how an accident happened and who was at fault. This footage can come from security cameras, red light cameras, or dash cams. If you have video footage of your accident, give it to your lawyer so they can review it.
Review Insurance Policies
The lawyer will also look at any insurance policies that may be relevant. If the other driver was at fault, their insurance should cover the damages. However, if the other driver does not have insurance or if their insurance is not enough to cover the damages, then the lawyer may need to look into filing a lawsuit against the other driver.
Additionally, your lawyer will determine what kind of damages they believe can be recovered. This includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are things like medical bills and lost wages. Non-economic damages are things like pain and suffering. Once the lawyer has determined what kind of damages can be recovered, they will start working on getting their client compensated for their injuries.
As you can see, a lot goes into investigating a car accident. If you've been in a car accident and are looking for a lawyer to represent you, be sure to choose one who is thorough in their investigation.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims?
After a car accident, you may be wondering how long you have to file a claim. The answer to this question is not always straightforward as it can vary depending on the state where the accident occurred and the type of claim being filed. However, generally, there is a deadline of between one and four years for most personal injury claims in the United States. If you do not file your lawsuit within that timeframe, you will likely be barred from doing so. There are some exceptions that also vary by state, so you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
What Happens if I'm Partially at Fault for the Car Accident?
If you've been in a car accident, you may wonder if you can still recover damages even if you were partially at fault. The answer is maybe. It all depends on the laws of your state.
Most states follow the rule of comparative negligence. This means that each driver is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident. If you live in a state that follows the rule of comparative negligence, then you can usually recover damages as long as you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. So, if you are found to be 40% at fault, you can still recover 60% of your damages from the other driver. However, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault, you will not be able to recover any damages from the other driver.
There are a few states that use a different rule called contributory negligence. Under this rule, if you are even 1% at fault for an accident, you cannot recover any damages from the other driver, no matter how badly injured you are. This rule is much more restrictive than comparative negligence, making it very difficult for accident victims to recover compensation from the other driver.
Fortunately, most states have rejected contributory negligence in favor of comparative negligence. So, if you were partially at fault for your car accident, you may still be able to recover damages from the other driver—but it will depend on the laws of your state.
Why Choose Morgan & Morgan As Your Car Accident Lawyers?
We Have the Experience and Expertise You Need
When you've been in an accident, the last thing you want to do is try to navigate the complex legal system on your own. We have been handling these cases for decades and know exactly how to build a strong case on your behalf and help you get the compensation you need.
You Won't Pay Us Unless We Win Your Case
We don't get paid unless you get paid. That means there's no risk for you - you can hire us with confidence, knowing that if we don't win, you won't owe us a dime.
There's no charge for the consultation and no obligation to hire us. But if you do decide to hire us, know that you'll be hiring a team of experienced car accident lawyers who will fight for you every step of the way.
We Are Familiar With the Insurance System
Insurance companies are not looking out for your best interests. Their goal is to minimize their own liability and pay out as little as possible on claims. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to deal with insurance companies and get you the full amount of compensation you're entitled to.
We Have a Team of Experts Who Can Help
In addition to our experienced lawyers, we also have a team of experts who can help build your case. This team may include accident reconstructionists, medical experts, and economic analysts, among others. These experts can help us build the strongest possible case for you and get you the compensation you need to move forward with your life.
Morgan & Morgan Understands How the Accident Has Impacted Your Life
We understand that being in an accident can be a very traumatic experience, both physically and emotionally. And we also know that it can have a significant impact on every aspect of your life. Whether it's missing work because of injuries or struggling to pay medical bills, we understand how your accident has impacted your life, and we're here to help. It’s also important to know a little bit about the process. Knowing who investigates car accidents can be a good first start, as it allows you to advocate for yourself and take the right steps. If you have questions or believe you have a car accident claim, contact Morgan & Morgan today to schedule your free consultation.
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