Did you or a loved one get injured in a car wreck? Read these 12 car accident tips for guidance, then give our Atlanta lawyers a call today.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
When it comes to car accident claims, there are several mistakes we regularly see that are detrimental to a claim, even if the client doesn’t realize it. The first thing that we often see is a client who doesn’t contact the police to get an incident report. This is essential because it gives us documentation of the claim and it lets us know who it is that we need to pursue the claim against.
Another thing is failing to take photographs of the vehicle involved to show the property damage. Often, police officers don’t accurately record the amount of damage that has occurred to the vehicles in the police reports, and if we don’t have the vehicle photographs showing the damage, an insurance company can use the police report to try to minimize the extent of the impact and, therefore, argue that you shouldn’t have had that big of an injury.
Another thing that clients sometimes fail to do is tell the officers at the scene of the wreck that they have been injured. Let the officer know that you’re hurting because that information goes in the police report. If you claim during your lawsuit that you began feeling pain immediately, but you didn’t tell the officer that, the police report is going to say “no injuries reported,” and then we have a conflict. Make sure, every time, that you tell the officer that you’re in pain.
The next thing to do is, if you’re in serious pain, get medical treatment immediately. If you tell the responding officer that you are in pain, he or she is going to ask if you would like an ambulance. If you have the opportunity to go in an ambulance, go ahead and get checked out at the emergency room. If you can’t do that and you’re already in pain, drive yourself to the emergency room and get checked out. Again, this documents your injuries and it makes sure to get the treatment process started.
Another thing that’s problematic is once treatment gets started, we have clients that don’t show up regularly to continue their treatment. That creates gaps in treatment that are tough to deal with. Insurance companies will start pointing out that if you were seriously injured, you wouldn’t have been missing treatment. Do what your doctor says and make sure you get to those appointments.
It’s very important, also, to not delay in getting a lawyer. You need to get a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure that your rights are protected, and make sure you get a lawyer who has lots of experience handling these cases.
Choosing a Car Accident Attorney
Car wrecks are things that people in the community deal with on a regular basis. People frequently ask me how they should go about hiring the best lawyer for that situation. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration. The first one is the experience of the lawyer that would be handling the case. There are a lot of things that go into investigating and working up car wreck cases. If you have someone representing you who’s not handling car wreck cases on a daily basis, there are a lot of things that they may miss and not know to look for that can severely harm the value of your case.
At the Gunnels Law Firm, we handle car wreck cases on a daily basis, so we know all the ins and outs. You don’t want to find yourself being represented by an attorney who handles all varieties of cases and doesn’t spend the vast majority of their time on personal injury.
Another thing to keep in mind is you want someone who knows what the insurance companies see as being factors that motivate good settlement offers. If you’re not working up the case properly, insurance companies aren’t going to pay much attention to you. There are pressure points in all these cases, and you have to have an attorney who knows these pressure points to be able to get the best resolution for you.
You also want to make sure that you have an attorney who is to take a car wreck case to trial. Insurance companies keep a list of attorneys who try cases and those who don’t. You can guarantee that the attorneys who don’t try cases are not going to get as good of offers as the attorneys who do. It is the fear of what a jury may do with a case that really motivates an insurance company to put their best offers on the table.
At the Gunnels Law Firm, we are frequently in court trying cases. We know how to work them up from start to finish, and how to present them to a jury when necessary. Always make sure that you have an attorney who has extensive experience in these areas and can take the case all the way through to the finish line.
Collecting Evidence in a Car Accident Claim
One of the most important reasons to contact a personal injury attorney immediately after you’ve been injured in a car wreck is that the attorney needs to begin preserving evidence and investigating the claim. The longer you wait before contacting an attorney, the less time he or she will have to preserve evidence and uncover the full story of what caused the wreck. That story is very important to the claim, and attorneys want to begin an investigation as soon as possible. Things like skid marks on the road don’t last very long, and witnesses tend to disappear if you don’t gather that information immediately.
If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle wreck, please contact an experienced attorney immediately so that he or she may begin gathering all of the necessary evidence to present your case in the best light when the time comes. If you’ve been injured and you need our assistance at the Gunnels Law Firm, please contact us. We are glad to help.
Proving Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
One thing that often confuses people that have been involved in a motor vehicle collision is who’s responsible when multiple vehicles are involved. In congested areas such as Metro Atlanta, car wrecks often involve more than two vehicles. The first thing to look for is who the responding officer found to be at fault for the wreck. Usually it is just one vehicle, and the responding officer will investigate and make that determination. While that determination is not binding upon a jury, it is certainly very persuasive evidence to have. In most situations, it will be one vehicle that caused a collision that then impacted another vehicle. In that situation, there is one at-fault party and two potential personal injury claimants.
It is important to, from the very beginning in those situations, have an attorney who can investigate the claim and preserve all of the necessary evidence to present that claim. It is not uncommon at all when multiple vehicles are involved for defendants or insurance companies to try to shift blame to one of the other parties. In that situation, it is imperative that you have an attorney who is experienced in handling and negotiating these claims. If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident where multiple parties were involved, please give us a call so we can help you determine the proper at-fault party and help you work through your claim.
Car Accident Recorded Statement
We’re often asked by people whether they should give a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company when one is requested. The answer to this is, no, don’t ever do that, especially without a lawyer present. When a car wreck has occurred, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will often ask the injured party to give a recorded statement of what occurred. The injured party may think they’re doing their claim a service in making it, but in reality they are only causing hurting themselves. Insurance companies utilize trained insurance adjusters who will ask questions that may be confusing and misleading. Don’t ever participate in one of these statements, especially without the presence of your attorney.
How Do I Pay My Bills After a Car Accident?
One of the primary concerns we see with clients who come to see us after being injured in a motor vehicle accident is what to do when they’re unable to pay their bills. Many people after being injured are forced to miss time from work and are not paid for work time that they would’ve had, if they had not been injured. Most of us are dependent upon our weekly or bi-weekly paychecks in order to pay for our basic necessities in life, such as a place to live and food to eat. When we’re not able to work and we don’t have the funds that we would have to pay those bills, we often deal with people who are attempting to collect money that we may not have. Oftentimes, the bill collector in those situations does not care that you have been in an accident and have not been able to work. We often have bill collectors chasing clients who are already having to deal with issues related to pain and not being able to work.
In situations such as this, you have options. We are often able to help with short-term loans or working directly with those bill collectors to give you additional time. If you’ve been injured and you find yourself in this situation, please give us a call and let us help you through this process.
Car Accident Medical Bills
One of the first things we are asked when working with new personal injury clients is who is going to pay for their medical expenses. If you are reading this, it may be because you have been injured due to the negligence of someone else and you are trying to determine who is responsible for paying your medical expenses. The first thing to consider is whether you have health insurance and if you should use it. I always advise my clients— and would advise you— that if you have been injured in an accident of some sort and you have health insurance, make sure that health insurance is applied to every medical visit you have. In the end, as long as liability is established, the other party’s insurance will compensate you for those medical expenses, but if you have utilized your insurance, we are able to maximize the recovery in a more effective manner for you.
The process of obtaining a recovery for medical expenses is something that you’ll want an experienced attorney to help you work through. We will get your medical records and your medical bills and be able to craft your case into the appropriate narrative to make sure that your compensation is maximized through the at-fault insurance company. If you have been injured and you have questions about who will pay your medical bills and need help working through the process with an insurance company, please give us a call. We would be happy to help you.
Car Accident Claim with Minimal Medical Bills
When clients contact us about injuries they sustained in car wrecks, one of the questions that they often have is if they need a certain amount of medical expenses in order to warrant pursuing a claim. The answer is that not every case is alike and that can vary. Some cases can have significant injuries and relatively minor medical expenses, and those cases are worth pursuing. Other cases can have minor injuries and minor expense and not be worth pursuing. For example, we may have a case where the only injury someone sustained is a gash to their forehead, and all they had in medical expenses was the expense of having it stitched up, but they’re left with a permanent and visible facial scar, and that’s the type of injury that has some compensation value. Those cases are worth pursuing, even though you may only have a small amount of medical expenses.
On the other hand, you may have a claim where you were in discomfort for a week, and you went to see a chiropractor two or three times, and you have $500 in medical expenses, those cases generally aren’t worth your time. They don’t have a lot of value to them, and the amount of time you’d have to spend to pursue them doesn’t really warrant it based on what the recovery is going to be.
The best thing to do if you’ve been in a car wreck and you’ve been injured is to immediately contact an attorney who can walk you through that process and let you know if you have what is necessary to make up a good car wreck claim.
Car Accident with an Uninsured Driver
One situation we deal with when handling personal injury cases in Georgia, especially in the Metro Atlanta area, is when the at-fault driver does not have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance. This is a very common occurrence. Even though Georgia law requires a minimum level of at-fault insurance, there are many, many drivers that don’t have them. Another circumstance where this comes up is if someone has minimal coverage but the person that they’ve harmed has significant injuries. This is why it is imperative that you protect yourself with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This is coverage that you buy on your own automobile policy that protects you against types of claims when there’s not enough insurance on the other side to compensate you.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is not expensive, and it can be added through your agent, covering you up to an amount that you choose. For example, in one of the first personal injury cases I had, a man was hit by a vehicle that only had a $25,000 policy of coverage. This man had an initial ER bill of over $280,000. He did not have uninsured motorist coverage, so the most we were able to recover for him was the other driver’s $25,000 policy. That left him with a lot of bills to negotiate on his own and no recovery for his personal injury.
Please make sure that you speak with your insurance agent and make sure your policy contains uninsured or underinsured coverage. If you have a question about areas where you can be compensated for a personal injury claim, even if the at-fault driver didn’t have coverage, please give us a call so we can help you through the process.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
We are often asked by clients what type of car insurance they need to have to protect themselves if they are in a motor vehicle collision. We recommend two types of coverage to everyone that drives an automobile and has insurance coverage. The first is called underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage (generally referred to as UM coverage). The second type is called medical payments coverage, and we generally refer to it as MedPay coverage. These can be very important and can have a big impact on your claim in many situations.
As an example, we recently had a client who had been in a significant motor vehicle collision. Someone had run a stop sign and pulled into his lane. He had very significant injuries and his medical expenses from the ER alone were over $200,000. Unfortunately, the at-fault driver had a state-minimum policy, which is $25,000 in liability coverage, and didn’t have any personal assets that we could pursue, so our client was left with only $25,000 in coverage to pursue for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of injuries. If he had an uninsured motorist coverage policy, he would’ve had money from his own policy that he could have added onto the at-fault driver’s policy.
There are two different types of this coverage that you can purchase. One is called added-on, and the other is called offset or difference in limits coverage. The added-on coverage is the one that you want to get. It does not offset anything from what you have purchased based upon what the at-fault driver had. In the example we talked about before, the client would have the full $250,000 to pursue on top of the at-fault driver’s $25,000. In the offset version of the coverage, he would only have an additional $225,000 to pursue because they would offset the $25,000 the at-fault driver had against his uninsured motorist policy. Make sure that you get the added-on variety. Uninsured motorist coverage is very inexpensive and it’s something that you definitely need to have.
The other type of coverage — medical payments coverage — can also be very beneficial, especially if you do not have health insurance. When you’re in a motor vehicle wreck and you need treatment, the at-fault insurance carrier does not provide treatment for you and does not help you go get treatment; they simply reimburse you for your medical expenses after you’re finished with your treatment. That can be a problem if you don’t have health insurance and can’t pay for the treatment up front. When you purchase medical payments coverage, your policy will provide payment for a certain amount of medical coverage that you don’t have to pay out of pocket, and then you still can pursue that coverage later when you go after compensation from the at-fault driver’s policy.
Like uninsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage is very inexpensive and is something you should definitely have because it can protect you when these worst-case scenarios happen. Please make sure you have these types of coverage, and you’ll be thankful for it later.
Car Accident Settlement Timeline
One of the first questions people ask us when they come to us for a car wreck claim is how long it will take to resolve their case. The answer varies greatly depending on the severity of the injuries and whether liability is disputed or not. In these cases, generally we are going to want the client to finish their treatment before we pursue a claim. In these types of lawsuits, you only get one chance, so you don’t want to resolve the claim before the full extent of your injuries are revealed. You don’t get to go back and negotiate after the fact.
What we like to do is have our clients finish their treatment and we’re then ready to submit a demand to the insurance company. If you have a more significant injury and through two years of treatment you are not back to normal, or if you have a very significant injury that is clearly not going to go away, you can submit your case a lot sooner. Two years is an important factor because that’s the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in Georgia.
If you’re in a car wreck and you want to file a lawsuit, you have two years from the date of the wreck to do so. If you don’t file within that time period, you lose the right to file that claim. If, for example, you have an injury and you treat for three or four months and then you’re back to normal, oftentimes those cases can be resolved within two or three months after the time period where you finish treating. If you have a more significant injury, those cases go into the litigation system. Once there, they may take six to 18 months to resolve before we can get them taken care of.
Car Accident Case Value
When we see clients with injuries suffered in car wrecks, one of the first things they want to know is how much their case is worth. That’s a very difficult question to answer because there’s so many variables to the value of a case. A case is generally going to depend on things such as the amount of the medical expenses, the permanency of the injury, and how much it’s disrupted your life.
In Georgia, things that you can recover for personal injury are special damages, which are lost wages and the value of medical expenses, and what’s called non-economic damages, which includes things such as pain and suffering and the disruption of your life. Those are the categories that you’re looking at in terms of how much your case is worth.
Another limiting factor in the value of your case is the concept of at-fault liability insurance. Your case is generally going to be capped out, in terms of value, at the amount of liability insurance the at-fault driver has, unless you have some uninsured motorist coverage of your own, which we highly recommend. You can have a million dollars in damages in your case, but if you don’t have uninsured motorist coverage and the other party that caused your injury only has $25,000 worth of coverage, you’re going to be stuck, in most instances, with that $25,000 worth of recovery, despite the extent of your injuries.
The best thing to do if you’re injured in a car wreck is immediately consult an attorney so that attorney can help walk you through this process and make sure that all the things are being done that need to be done and to present your case in the best light to help you achieve the best possible recovery.
Were you or a loved one seriously injured in an automobile wreck in Georgia and have questions about these 12 car accident tips?
Contact the experienced Atlanta car accident attorneys at The Gunnels Law Firm today to arrange a free consultation and case evaluation.
Let our experience work for you.
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