How to Respond to a Car Accident

How to Respond to a Car Accident

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How to Respond to a Car Accident

Even cautious, safe drivers can be unexpectedly involved in a terrible accident while on the road, which is why it’s important for all drivers to know how to respond to a car accident, if and when one occurs. This is important both for your health and safety, as well as your legal rights.

If the accident wasn’t your fault and legal action may be required, then how you respond to a car accident could significantly impact your case. For context, it could be the difference between getting the compensation you are owed and deserve or nothing. From a medical perspective, it could be the difference between paying expensive medical bills out of pocket or having those expenses covered by the at-fault party.

While it's understandable that the first few moments after a car accident can be confusing, stressful, and—even worse—painful, knowing how to respond amidst the chaos is crucial.

If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, get medical attention immediately and then contact Morgan & Morgan, America’s largest personal injury law firm, for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn if you might be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

Morgan & Morgan

  • How to Respond to a Car Accident? – First Steps

    Here are some quick tips to guide you:

    • Call 911 and request immediate medical attention
    • Ensure there's a police officer at the accident scene
    • If possible, document the accident scene by taking photos or videos
    • Obtain the contact information of witnesses, if available.
    • Do not admit fault, even if you feel you're partly responsible for the accident
    • Do not sign anything or give a recorded statement
    • Contact a Morgan & Morgan car accident attorney for a free case evaluation
  • Should I Seek Medical Attention Even if My Injuries Are Not That Serious?

    Underestimating injuries after a car accident is one of the most common mistakes some people make in such cases. This is because some injuries, such as concussions and whiplash, may take time to show their symptoms. These injuries may worsen if left untreated, leading to long-term health complications.
    Seeking medical attention after a car accident also helps document your injuries and damages. This documentation can be vital if you pursue legal action or file an insurance claim. Without medical records, it can be difficult to prove the connection between your injuries and the accident.

    Additionally, only a car accident doctor can determine the true extent of your injuries. So, even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, that doesn't necessarily mean you're not injured. A car accident doctor can evaluate your injuries and determine if you need treatment or monitoring.

    Lastly, failing to seek medical attention after a car accident can hurt your chances of claiming compensation for medical expenses. Insurance companies may argue that your injuries were not serious enough to require medical attention.

    Keep in mind that the goal of seeking medical attention is not to exaggerate your injuries but to get you the treatment you need.

  • Can I Miss My Medical Appointments After a Car Accident?

    Your medical appointments are crucial to your recovery. They improve your chances of healing and strengthen your personal injury claim.

    Attending your medical appointments shows you are committed to recovering. This sends a positive message to your healthcare providers and the insurance company. On the other hand, missing appointments or showing up late can negatively impact your case. In fact, car accident doctors don't like dealing with clients who are not committed to the recovery process.

    Note that your medical chart will have a "did not show" notation when you skip your medical appointments. As a result, the insurance company's lawyers will use this to argue that you must not have been hurt as badly as you claim or that you do not care about getting better. Eventually, such an argument will hurt your credibility and weaken your claim.

    It's also difficult to explain to a jury why you missed scheduled medical appointments. Juries are often sympathetic to the injured but expect them to do their part in seeking proper medical care.
    To avoid these problems, commit to attending all of your scheduled medical appointments. That said, life happens, and you may not be able to attend a particular appointment for unavoidable reasons. In that case, ensure you call the doctor's office and inform them why you cannot show up. Also, reschedule the appointment as soon as possible.

    If you have any doubts or concerns, consult your lawyer for guidance.

  • Do I Still Need a Police Officer at the Accident Scene if the Other Party Takes Responsibility?

    You should always have a police officer at the scene, even if the other party takes responsibility for the accident. Here is why.

    The other party could change their narrative of the events later on. Without a police officer present to document the accident, you won't have any concrete proof to dispute their claims. This could make it difficult for you to prove your version of the events and may hurt your chances of receiving compensation for damages.

    Insurance companies are more likely to trust the police report rather than your own words. In fact, they'll likely treat your case as false unless you prove otherwise. This is because a police report carries more weight than your personal account of the accident.

    A police report will document essential details of the accident, such as the time, date, location, and other factors that may have contributed to the accident. Your attorney will then use this information to build a strong case against the other party and increase your chances of receiving compensation for damages.

  • I Did Not Gather Evidence To Support My Case. How Can an Attorney Help?

    Some accidents may leave you with zero opportunity to gather evidence. Take, for example, a situation where you suffered a concussion or went into a comma. In that case, gathering evidence to support your case may be impossible. But that does not mean you do not have a case.

    A skilled attorney can help in such a situation.

    They will review the specifics of your case and find ways to gather evidence. This can include revisiting the accident scene, obtaining surveillance footage, consulting accident reconstruction experts, and interviewing witnesses.  

    That said, the success of your case will depend on the attorney or law firm you hire. Such cases require a lot of resources, and attorneys with limited resources may not be able to gather substantial evidence against the other party. That's why choosing an attorney or law firm with the experience, expertise, and resources necessary to give you the best chance of success is important.

  • How Will My Attorney Prove Liability in a Car Accident?

    In most states, to prove liability, you must establish four key elements of a car accident case:

    • The other party had a duty of care
    • The other party neglected their duty of care
    • You were injured as a result of the other party's negligence.  
    • You suffered damages as a result of your injuries

     If your case satisfies all these four elements, you'll have a higher chance of obtaining compensation for your injuries.

  • Who May Be Liable for the Car Accident?

    Different parties could be liable for the accident. We'll start with the negligent driver. You may hold them accountable if they violated traffic laws, leading to the accident. Examples of such violations include:

    • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
    • Speeding
    • Running a red light
    • Texting while driving

    Vehicle or part manufacturers can also be liable. For example, if a tire blowout caused an accident, the manufacturer could be liable for selling a defective product. Similarly, the vehicle manufacturer or the faulty part could be held responsible if the accident occurred due to faulty brakes or other mechanical issues.

    Also, depending on the nature of your case, you may hold the local government responsible for the car accident. This is especially true if the accident was caused by poor road design, a lack of signage or traffic signals, or other issues that fall under the government's responsibility.

  • Why Should I Not Admit Fault for an Accident?

    You may not be at fault from a legal standpoint. In many cases, the fault for a car accident is determined by several factors, including traffic laws and the actions of all parties involved. Admitting liability without knowing the facts could hurt your case and limit your chances of receiving compensation for damages.

    Secondly, insurance companies will use your statements against you to challenge your claim. If you admit fault, they may argue that you were solely responsible for the accident, reducing or denying your claim altogether. Note that insurance adjusters are skilled at questioning accident victims and coercing them into making statements that could hurt their claims.

    Finally, by admitting fault, you're essentially making it more difficult for your attorney to prove that the other party was at fault or shared the responsibility for the accident. This could result in a lower settlement or chance of success if the case goes to trial.

  • Why Should I Not Give a Recorded Statement After a Car Accident?

    After a car accident, the insurance adjuster may request a recorded statement from you. However, it's important to be cautious before giving any statements.
     
    Insurance companies will use your words against you to avoid settling the claim. For example, their adjusters may try to get you to admit fault or say something to jeopardize your claim. Remember, they aim to settle the claim for as little money as possible (or avoid settling if possible).

    In some states, such as Maryland, the contributory negligence rule law makes it even more difficult for the injured to recover compensation. For context, in such states, you cannot recover any compensation if you're found to be even 1% at fault for the accident. Giving a recorded statement could potentially provide evidence showing you were partially at fault.

    This will harm your case. Remember that you're not legally obligated to give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. Instead, you can direct the adjuster to speak with your attorney. 

  • Can I Settle the Claim Without an Attorney to Avoid Paying the Contingency Fee?

    Hiring an attorney is not mandatory. However, you should think carefully about the potential risks involved.

    Insurance companies are not on your side, even if they seem so. They will do everything possible to limit their costs, including paying less than you deserve.

    Once you've accepted a settlement and signed the release, you cannot reopen the case. This means that if you realize later that your injuries are worse than you thought or that you've missed out on the compensation you deserve, you won't be able to do anything about it. That could mean paying your medical bills out of pocket.

    And if you didn't know, America has the most expensive healthcare costs in the world.

  • How Soon After the Car Accident Should I Contact a Morgan & Morgan?

    The state's statute of limitations governs car accident claims. This is the deadline to file a claim.
    Depending on the state where the accident occurred, the time limit could range from one to six years. Contacting an attorney immediately after the accident can help beat these deadlines. Also, it gives your lawyer enough time to build a strong case against the at-fault party or your insurance company in the case of bad faith insurance.

    Remember, if you miss the deadline for filing a claim, you may be barred from recovering any compensation for your injuries or damages. This is why acting quickly after a car accident is so important.

  • Can I Still Hire a Lawyer After Filing a Claim?

    Filing a claim does not mean that you've accepted the settlement. On the contrary, you have the right to negotiate with the insurance company and try to get a better settlement. And if negotiations fail, you can still hire a lawyer to help you with your case.

    However, it may be too late to hire a lawyer if you've already accepted the settlement, signed a contract, and received a check. This is because once you've accepted the settlement and signed the contract, you have legally agreed to the settlement terms, and you cannot change your mind.

    To avoid finding yourself in such a situation, you should always contact a lawyer after a car accident, even better, before filing a claim.

  • How Can Morgan & Morgan Help?

    At Morgan & Morgan, our attorneys will investigate your case to determine whether it's valid. If you have a viable case, we will gather evidence to prove liability.  

    Once we've identified the liable party, we will file a claim on your behalf. This includes submitting a demand letter to the at-fault party's insurance company, outlining the damages you suffered from the accident.

    If the insurance provider agrees to cooperate, we will negotiate to reach a fair settlement covering all of your damages.

    But if they refuse to settle, we will take the case to court, argue on your behalf, present evidence and make legal arguments to show why you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.

  • Getting a Lawyer Is the Best Response to a Car Accident

    We understand that it's not easy to know how to respond to a car accident. Recovering from your pain and suffering will be your top priority in such a situation. However, given that car accident legal cases are complicated and have strict deadlines, time is not on your side.

    At Morgan & Morgan, we can help fight for you as you recover from your injuries and losses. Fill out our free case evaluation form today to learn more about your options and get advice for your next steps at no cost to you.

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