Car Accidents: Legal FAQ
Car accidents injure more than 2 million people each year around the country. The aftermath is often more challenging and costly than one would expect. After the initial impact, a victim's normal daily activities can be significantly disrupted. There are a number of important personal and legal car accident questions that must be addressed, including:
- Will my body heal properly?
- How much time will I lose from work?
- Can I file a lawsuit?
- What if I was partially at fault?
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions.
Should I file a lawsuit or let the insurance company handle it?
A majority of car accident injury claims are settled out of court. In such cases, both sides agree upon a settlement before a lawsuit is ever filed. However, there are several factors to consider before accepting a settlement offer.
You might not recover all of the money you need for medical bills by going through the standard insurance process. Getting into an accident with a driver who either does not have insurance or has insufficient coverage could leave you in a financial bind.
Working with your insurance company might not always provide the best result. Insurers should have the best interests of policyholders in mind but they are still looking at the bottom line. They may settle quickly to avoid paying additional expenses.
Should I go to court?
There are circumstances under which pursuing the matter in court is advisable. Perhaps the insurance company has not responded to your demand letter. If there is a response, maybe the offer is unreasonable for the harm you have sustained. If you are having doubts about accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company, you may want to contact a car accident lawyer to discuss the merits of your case.
Do I need to see a doctor after an accident?
A car accident is a traumatic event for most people. After what appears to be a minor accident, you might not manifest symptoms immediately. Still, a great deal of force occurs from even low-speed collisions.
Your body releases endorphins and adrenaline during the impact, which can increase your energy level while decreasing the level of pain you feel. However, feeling fine immediately after the accident does not mean that nothing is wrong. Once the chemical rush subsides, you may begin feeling the pain.
Because of this, you should see a doctor as soon as possible after an accident. Even with a small level of discomfort, your doctor can assess whether you sustained serious injuries. Your doctor can monitor symptoms that may arise from potential injuries.
If you decide to file a claim, it's crucial to demonstrate that you sought medical treatment within a reasonable time frame after the accident. Waiting too long to see the doctor may give the insurance adjuster a reason to argue that your injuries were not that serious or that they were incurred in another incident.
Should I release my medical records to the insurance adjuster?
As your claim progresses, the insurance adjuster may want all documentation of your injuries, including medical treatment. In some situations, you might be asked to submit to an independent medical examination.
Typically, your demand letter would have included copies of the medical records connected to the injuries you sustained in the accident. Unfortunately, this type of request may be an attempt to acquire records about your medical history. In such cases, the adjuster may seek to find something that can be used to discredit your case. Any information not related to your case is most likely unreasonable and you are not obligated to comply.
What happens if the accident was partly my fault?
Even if a car accident was partially your fault, you could still be entitled to receive compensation in many states. However, you should not discuss your actions leading up to the accident with anyone before speaking with a car accident lawyer. A personal injury lawyer can also help answer any car accident questions you may have.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.
Additional Auto Accident Articles
- Auto Accidents
- Car Accident Basics
- Car Accidents: Contributory & Comparative Negligence
- Types of Car Accident Damages
- Proving Fault in a Car Accident
- Types of Car Accident Injuries
- Car Insurance Claims: Dos and Don'ts