Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents
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Car accidents can cause panic and commotion. When they are involved in a car accident, people often make costly decisions due to a lack of proper information or simply being unaware of what consequences their actions could hold.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a car accident, then you could be eligible for substantial compensation, depending on the circumstances of your accident and the extent of your injuries. However, the key to a successful auto accident claim is taking the right steps after the accident occurs.
Based on our decades of collective experience, as well as a survey of common concerns amongst our former clients, the attorneys of Hearne & Bailey, P.A. are pleased to present to you the most Frequently Asked Questions about car accidents in Salisbury and throughout the state of Maryland.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
The first thing to do after a car accident is to get to a safe place and check for any injuries on your body.
If you have sustained an injury, do not take any actions that may aggravate it further. We recommend finding somewhere safe and relaxed and call 911 to get help right away. You’ll want to be attended to as soon as possible to start your recovery.
Whether you have sustained an injury or not, you’ll still want to call 911 and report your accident. Someone in a different vehicle could be hurt, and you’ll want to begin noting important details in your case. This is often done with police reports.
While waiting for emergency services to arrive, if you are physically able to, approach the other drivers and find out if they’ll admit to causing the accident or not. Take note of anything they say to you—at this point, it is critical to begin collecting as much evidence as possible.
Take notes of:
- The road and weather conditions
- The names of those involved
- License and contact info
- Insurance information of everyone involved
- The names, statements, and contact information of any eyewitnesses
If you can, try to take as many pictures as you can on your mobile phone. All of this can be used as evidence when building your case, and it can help you to prove the other driver’s fault in court in the event that they decide not to settle.
Should I Talk to the Police When They Arrive?
Absolutely. As long as you have done nothing wrong, feel free to speak with the police. The police report containing your statement and that of the other drivers involved is an important part of building a case against the at-fault driver, as it could be useful in proving the other driver’s negligence.
When talking to the police about your injuries, however, be careful with what you say. Remember that the police report can work both ways.
For example, if you tell the police you have no injuries and that you feel fine in the initial report, only to be diagnosed with a concussion a few days later, the other driver’s insurance will argue that you sustained your concussion from a different source and that they are not liable to pay for treatment for it. Concussions resulting from head and neck injuries are common in car accidents and usually not readily discernable in the immediate aftermath.
We strongly advise that you tell the police you cannot give a definite answer until you receive medical attention.
Should I Tell My Insurance Company about the Accident?
You are obligated to cooperate with your insurance company and provide them with all of the relevant information about the accident. In fact, most insurance companies require policyholders to report any car accident—no matter how minor—within an extremely narrow window of time after it happens, or else they will withdraw coverage for the accident.
When discussing your accident with anyone, you should avoid making any verbal remarks as to who was responsible. Something you accidentally say might make you appear at least partially negligent. Instead, you should only discuss the facts surrounding the accident. Our team always encourages our clients to contact us before providing any sensitive information to your insurance company.
DO NOT talk to the at-fault’s driver’s insurance company—under any circumstances—without an attorney present. Statement takers are trained to look for key phrases that can be twisted and used against you, and most people often don’t know what questions they are and are not required to answer. You are permitted to refuse to give your statement to the other party’s insurance company until you have consulted with your own legal counsel.
What Can I Sue the Other Driver For?
Every driver has a duty to pedestrians and other motorists to be responsible behind the wheel and not behave in a negligent manner. Certain negligent behaviors that drivers are expected to avoid include:
- Distracted Driving: Texting, eating, or making a phone call while driving are all examples of distracted driving behaviors that result in accidents. Driving while tired—resulting in sleeping behind the wheel—is also an example of distracted driving.
- Driving Under the Influence: Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is against the law and punishable with years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. It is also grounds for liability should it result in a car accident.
- Reckless Endangerment: Speeding, tailgating, failure to indicate before breaking or making a turn and other aggressive and reckless driving behaviors can all be categorized under reckless endangerment.
Whenever it can be proven that a driver is guilty of any or all of these negligent behaviors, they will be held responsible for any resulting accident. An investigation will take place to determine who is at fault, but our attorneys have the experience to help you prove your innocence and fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Kind of Damages Can I Expect to Recover from the At-Fault Driver?
Whether or not you were injured in an auto accident, the fact still remains that it is an emotionally and financially draining situation. That means you could hold the other driver financially responsible for more than just medical expenses.
In fact, here is a short list of just some of the things you could hold an at-fault driver liable for:
- All past and future medical expenses relating to injuries caused by the accident
- All past and future lost income resulting from injuries or recovery related to your accident
- All costs associated with alleviating pain and suffering created by injuries from your accident
- All vehicle repair or replacement expenses related to the accident
Additionally, when a driver is found to have intentionally and willfully caused an accident through gross negligence, it is possible to collect further compensation in the form of punitive damages as well.
The At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance. Is There Anything Else I Can Do?
Yes, there is. You can file a claim with your own insurance company as part of your uninsured or underinsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage. It is an unfortunate reality that many people drive without insurance, even though it is illegal to do so. Likewise, it is even more unfortunate that these people are often the ones who drive the most recklessly. From there, your insurance company can pursue the other driver for compensation on their own behalf.
Can I Collect Compensation If I am a Passenger in an Accident?
Yes! Regardless of whose car you are in, when an accident occurs, you are automatically entitled to file a claim against someone. Contacting a Salisbury car accident attorney can give you all of the information necessary to file your claim against the right person. If the person driving you is at fault, their own liability insurance is responsible for covering your needs. If another vehicle’s driver is at fault, that driver’s liability insurance is responsible for compensating you.
Can I Seek Damages If the Other Driver’s Negligence Caused A Loved One’s Death?
This is referred to as a “wrongful death” action, and it is similar to a car accident injury case. If a loved one was killed as a result of a negligent driver’s actions, then you should contact an attorney today to discuss the next steps towards filing a wrongful death action. Wrongful death claimants are the rightful beneficiaries entitled to receive compensation for damages, including losses due to financial and emotional dependence on the deceased.
Is There a Time Limit to File My Lawsuit?
Yes. This is known as a “statute of limitations,” and here in Maryland, it is set at three years from the date of your accident. This doesn’t mean your case has to be finished in that time, only that you have to have filed your claim with the appropriate avenues by that point. If you are thinking about filing a claim, speak to one of our experienced lawyers today to learn more about how we can help you after a car accident.
Schedule a consultation by calling Hearne & Bailey, P.A. at (410) 618-0903 now!