What to Do After a Car Accident
Car accidents leave many victims with severe injuries. They may not know what to do or where to turn.
The most crucial step following a car accident is seeking medical help for your injuries. Next, consult an experienced car accident lawyer about your legal options and the steps you should take to recover monetary damages.
The Usual Reasons Why Car Crashes Occur
Car accidents can occur for various reasons, but they usually result from driver error and negligence.
Some of the most common reasons for car crashes include:
- Traffic law violations, including speeding and failure to yield
- Road rage
- Inattentive driving
- Fatigued driving
- Intoxicated driving
If you suffered injuries in a motor vehicle crash that resulted from another driver’s negligence, a skilled car accident lawyer can meet with you right away to discuss your accident circumstances and help you pursue a claim for monetary recovery.
Types of Car Accidents
When drivers do not drive in a safe or careful manner, they may cause accidents that leave other drivers and their passengers severely injured.
One factor determining the injuries an accident victim suffers is the type of accident. In general, head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles strike one another, are the most severe type of car accident.
This is especially true if the vehicles are moving fast. When two cars hit one another head-on, the vehicles may fold in on themselves or become totally demolished. As a result, drivers and passengers may suffer permanent and sometimes fatal injuries.
Another common type of car crash is a rear-end accident, where the front of one vehicle hits the back of another car. These accidents commonly happen when drivers do not pay attention or drive too fast for weather and road conditions.
Next, sideswipe accidents happen when the sides of two vehicles on a multi-lane roadway strike one another. Sometimes, a sideswipe accident pushes one car entirely off the road and onto the shoulder.
Finally, a broadside accident (or T-bone collision) happens when the front of one vehicle hits the side of another car, usually at a four-way traffic intersection or highway merge lane. These accidents are most common when drivers do not yield the right-of-way to other traffic on an intersecting roadway. These accidents may cause the vehicle on the receiving end to flip over or turn around rapidly, bringing about serious injuries.
If you sustained injuries in one of these car accidents, you should immediately retain the skilled legal counsel you need. Your attorney can help you investigate your accident circumstances and help you pursue a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company for monetary damages.
Injuries that Car Accident Victims Commonly Suffer
When other drivers drive negligently and carelessly, serious accidents may result in severe injuries and other medical complications. The extent of an accident victim’s injuries often depends on how their body moves in the vehicle during the crash.
Other factors that may affect the extent of an accident victim’s injuries include:
- The force of the collision.
- The number of collisions.
- The number of vehicles involved.
In some cases, a car accident victim might strike their head or another body part on the steering wheel, headrest, door frame, or window, resulting in a traumatic head injury (such as a concussion or coma) or bone fracture.
If the accident victim’s torso strikes the steering wheel, they may suffer one or more rib fractures. Moreover, the forward and backward motion of a car crash may cause an accident victim to suffer a soft tissue contusion to their neck and upper back, resulting in severe pain.
Other common injuries that accident victims may suffer include:
- Abrasions and bruises from airbag deployment
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Full or partial paralysis
- Open lacerations
One of the best ways to prevent your injuries from becoming worse is to seek prompt medical treatment as quickly as possible after your car crash. While you attend your medical appointments and focus on getting better, your attorney can start working for you and handling the legal components of your claim or lawsuit.
Specifically, your attorney can begin to gather your medical treatment records and bills, lost income documentation, police reports, and other potential evidence to use in your case. They can then assemble these documents into a settlement demand package for the insurance company adjuster to review once you have completed your medical treatment.
What to Do Following a Car Crash Upon Leaving the Scene
After you leave the scene of a car accident, there are several steps that you should ordinarily take.
First, follow through with any recommended medical treatment that you need. Urgent care centers and hospital emergency room doctors might prescribe a treatment plan for an accident victim.
The ER doctor may also tell the accident victim to follow up with their primary care doctor if their symptoms become worse. Accident victims may then need to consult a medical specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon, or attend physical therapy.
Completing your medical treatment after an accident serves two purposes.
- First, seeking continuous medical care helps to ensure that your injuries recover quickly.
- Second, seeking regular medical care shows insurance company adjusters that your injuries are serious, that you need medical treatment, and that you deserve to recover fair monetary compensation for your injuries.
In addition to getting the medical care you need following your accident, you should contact a qualified car accident attorney near you. Your attorney can first investigate your accident by speaking with you and reviewing the police report and any witness statements.
If the insurance company is disputing fault for the accident, your lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist who can go to the accident scene, review police documentation, and assess how the accident occurred – and who was at fault.
An accident reconstructionist can also submit a report to the insurance company or testify at a discovery deposition or jury trial about how your accident happened.
A personal injury attorney can also retain a qualified medical expert who can serve as an expert witness in your case. A medical expert may be a treating medical provider, such as a primary care doctor or specialist.
Expert medical witnesses can establish the necessary causal relationship between the auto accident and your injuries. They can also confirm that one or more of your physical injuries are permanent and likely to cause you ongoing pain and symptoms for the rest of your life.
A medical provider can also determine if you may need additional medical treatment in the future and form an opinion about the cost of that anticipated treatment.
Finally, after your accident, your attorney should contact your own insurance company and notify them of a potential claim. In most situations, auto accident victims who suffer injuries deal with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
However, if the other driver was totally uninsured, or if they did not have sufficient insurance coverage to compensate you for your accident-related losses, you may need to file a first-party claim and involve your own insurance company.
These types of claims are called uninsured or underinsured motorist claims. Your attorney can handle all dealings with insurance companies on your behalf, including settlement negotiations in your case.
Proving Your Car Accident Case
To recover monetary compensation for your accident-related losses, including compensation for your pain and suffering, you will need to establish the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit.
First, an auto accident victim will need to show that the at-fault driver owed them a legal duty of care. Drivers have a duty to drive carefully and safely, to refrain from drunk and distracted driving, and to follow all traffic laws.
In addition, the accident victim must establish that the other driver deviated from their duty of care in some way, such as by failing to yield the right-of-way at the appropriate time, failing to use their mirrors, or engaging in road rage.
Next, the accident victim needs to show that as a direct result of the other driver’s careless or reckless actions, the accident occurred, resulting in one or more physical injuries and damages. A skilled car accident lawyer in your area can help you satisfy your legal burden of proof and pursue the pain and suffering compensation you deserve for all of your accident-related losses.
What Monetary Damages Can I Recover in My Auto Accident Case?
As part of a car accident claim or lawsuit, you may be eligible to recover various types of monetary compensation, depending upon the nature and extent of your injuries, the scope of your medical treatment, and the total cost of your medical treatment.
Some of the most common types of compensation that accident victims can recover include:
- Related past and anticipated medical costs, for all of the medical treatment that the accident victim suffered since the date of their accident, as well as for anticipated medical costs if the accident victim suffered a permanent injury in their accident
- Loss of earnings, if the accident victim had to miss time from work following their accident
- Loss of earning capacity, if the accident victim’s injuries prevent them from working at their current job, requiring that they switch jobs and take a pay cut
- Inconvenience, pain and suffering for all of the accident victim’s past and anticipated symptoms related to their injuries
- Loss of enjoyment of life, if the accident victim’s quality of life significantly declined after their accident
- Loss of spousal companionship and consortium, if the accident victim’s injuries prevent them from being intimate with their spouse
- Loss of the ability to use a body part, such as from a permanent, disabling injury
- Long-term care costs of residing at a nursing home or assisted living facility due to accident-related injuries
Speak to a Car Accident Lawyer in Your Area Right Away
Following a car crash, if someone sustains injuries, that person will typically need to interact with an insurance company. Insurance companies are often large organizations with vast resources. They have a lot of experience dealing with car accidents since they happen every day. The insurance company will look for any reason not to give an accident victim the compensation they deserve.
If you recently suffered injuries in a car crash that someone else caused, you should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Orange County as quickly as possible. Your lawyer can explore all of your legal options, help you file a claim, and work to maximize the total compensation you recover in your case. Seek the right legal help immediately.