Transcript: What should you do if you’re in an auto accident? First and foremost, make sure you stop at the scene, call the police and exchange information with the other driver. Whether you’re at fault or the other driver is at fault you’re required by law to stop and exchange information. Never forget to do that.
Number two, most of us now have smart phones. Take pictures of your car, their car, take pictures of the scene, who was there. You don’t want any dispute later. Also, if there are any other people around make sure the officers are talking to them or, you know, you go up and try to make sure you’re getting their names.
After the accident it’s imperative that you immediately seek medical care if you have an injury. Obviously, hopefully you’re not injured, but if you’re injured you’ve got to get medical care immediately. If you do not seek medical care, insurance companies will think your claim has no value, and it will be very difficult for me to do anything for you.
So stop and exchange information, call the police, take pictures, seek medical care promptly.
Things that you should not do, do not tell the other side how much insurance you have, do not discuss anything like that or say I’m gonna sue. Don’t lose your temper, you know, be a lady or a gentleman out there in the field. Now your lawyer, this is what I’m gonna do is give them a hard time. It’s not your need to do that right there in the field.
And then immediately call myself. You need a good lawyer immediately so that we can help guide you through, alright, what sort of medical care are you gonna make sure you get. Make sure you follow through with your therapy, and then start the negotiation process with the medical providers and the insurance company to get you compensated fully as possible.
Will you have to deal with an insurance company is something that I’m often asked. As your lawyer, we deal with the insurance company. If you don’t have a lawyer, yes, you’re gonna have to deal with the insurance company, and they’re pretty obnoxious frankly.
You know they deal all day long with people who have been injured, and their mission is to pay you as little as they possibly can. They’re businesses, this is a capitalist economy, their job is not to take care of you, but to take care of their shareholders. As your lawyer I will be there in your place to deal with them, to put them in their place and to make sure they’re paying you a fair price for what you’ve suffered.
Clients often want to know will the other side have a lawyer. If we have to file a lawsuit, then a lawyer will be hired by the insurance company to represent their insured. Early on most lawsuits and most personal injury cases go through a trajectory where at first you try to negotiate a resolution. And a good percentage of the time you can resolve it without having to file a lawsuit.
But ultimately if the insurance company thinks that their driver did nothing wrong, or they just refuse to pay a fair price, you’ve got to file a lawsuit. And then the other side will have a lawyer that is involved, and frankly that is often a good thing. Insurance adjusters sometimes don’t know the value of their own case. Once you get a lawyer in on the other side things can often resolve in a much quicker and more timely manner.
If you’re involved in a motor vehicle accident you may have to go to court. If we have to file a lawsuit, yes, you will have to go to court. You may need to give a statement, a deposition to the other side, which is just an opportunity for their lawyer or adjuster to ask you about what took place.
But we’re at your side the entire time. You are never alone through this whole process. We accompany you, and of course we minimize the amount of hassle and impact on your life. You’re not having to go to court on a monthly basis. It’s actually quite rare or infrequent that you would ever have to go to court.
If you’re in an accident, it’s very important that you cooperate with your insurance company. You have a duty under the terms of your policy to cooperate with them. The only restriction I would put on that is if for some reason it’s a different sort of case and you think, you know, you’ve maybe been drinking or you’ve done something where you might be in the wrong, then in that case talk to your lawyer, talk to me before you talk to your insurance company.
Either way, talk to your lawyer before you talk to your insurance company, but as a normal rule you’re gonna want to advise them of the claim, tell them briefly what happened but do not go through all of your injuries.
An important thing to remember is that you’re gonna be suing the driver who did this to you, I’m gonna be suing the driver who did this to you, but if they don’t have enough insurance, if they’ve got a minimum liability policy of, say, $15,000 but you’ve got a significant injury that’s worth, say, $100,000 we may be making a claim on your insurance policy for your underinsured motorist coverage.
Now, if you’ve talked to your insurance company on day one and said oh I feel great, I have no injuries whatsoever, then you know, two months from now we’re calling them saying terrible injury, we need compensation for more than the $15,000, they’re gonna play that recording of you saying oh I feel great, I’m fine, no problems. So again, talk to your lawyer before you talk to your insurance company.
I am often asked about what sort of coverage people should have on their insurance policies. It is critical that you get good comprehensive coverage, and that means not just coverage for your vehicle but coverage for you. And that’s called uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Buy that, it costs next to nothing. It can be as little as $20.00 for six months, but that coverage will take care of you if you’re injured by another driver who did not have insurance or did not have enough.
Buy as much as you can afford. Get a $300,000 or $500,000 uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage policy. That way, God forbid if you’re injured and you have huge medical bills or lost wages, I can get you the funds and the resources you need to get on with your life.
Do you need to use your insurance coverage after an accident, your personal insurance coverage? It depends on the facts of the case. If the other side is refusing to take care of your property damage claim in a timely manner, then yes. And let me back up a second. In any personal injury case there’s always two parts of the case.
The part your lawyer is gonna take care of is typically the personal injury side of it, you know, you’ve been hurt, we need to negotiate a proper amount of compensation and we need to take care of the medical payments.
Now there’s a separate part of your case in terms of hey, my car’s been damaged, I need you to fix my car, I need you to take care of that and give me a rental car. Now normally that’s handled without the lawyer being directly involved. The other side’s insurance company is going to contact you. It’s pretty cut and dry. They will arrange to get your car replaced and put you in a rental car.
Now if they’re refusing to do that, if they’re saying well, we’re not sure our driver did anything wrong, then make the claim under your own policy and then when we file a lawsuit part of that lawsuit will be for reimbursement for the property damage claim.
It is critical to lower medical bills in a personal injury case, and that’s a critical part of what a lawyer does. Medical bills can be enormous and sometimes eat up a client’s entire recovery. Unfortunately, I will sometimes get cases where there’s a type of medical lien called an ERISA lien where they’re allowed to basically come in and take your whole settlement if you, if they paid that much of a medical bill.
But normally what we can do is negotiate those numbers down tremendously so that you’re getting a fair amount of money in your pocket. The insurance company will get some, but you’re getting compensated.
That’s a major part. I spend two thirds of my time in personal injury cases anymore talking about medical liens, negotiating those liens, taking care of those so you don’t have to be troubled by it.