If you have been involved in a car accident, you probably have many questions regarding your legal rights and responsibilities. Here we offer answers to some frequently asked questions about car accidents to help you make informed decisions.
What is the first step I should take after an accident?
After an auto collision, if you or any other party was injured, seek emergency medical attention immediately and the law enforcement agency in the area in which the accident occurred by calling 911. If the accident is minor and you believe you were not injured, it is important that you are checked by a medical professional, as some injuries are not immediately evident and in some cases are life-threatening. Get the license plate number, driver's license number, insurance provider, insurance policy number, and contact information of the other driver. You should also ask for the contact information of any witnesses.
Is the at-fault driver's insurance company required to offer me a fair settlement?
Not necessarily. Only your own insurance company is legally obligated to treat you in good faith. Do not expect that the responsible party's insurance company offer a fair settlement, as this is unlikely. The process typically involves a low offer or in some cases, a denial. This is why it is important to have a skilled attorney on your side to protect your right to full compensation for all economic and non-economic damages.
I was injured in a car accident, but can't afford medical treatment. What should I do?
You have the right to recover personal injury damages for all medical expenses from the person responsible for the accident. That is where an experienced lawyer comes in to help you arrange a settlement or to take your case to civil court to pursue justice. The insurance company covering the at-fault driver does not have to pay for your medical costs as bills come in. You may be forced to pay for your treatment, creating a substantial financial burden. Some people feel forced into accepting a low settlement offer as they have run out of options. Ask your lawyer to help you with deferred payment options for medical providers that could be available while the process of settling your claim is in motion.
What if the driver who hit me has no car insurance?
If you are hit by an uninsured driver your options are more limited because you will have to turn solely to your own insurance for compensation. Your collision coverage will help with the cost of repairing your car or replacing it. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can also receive money for the cost of your injuries up to the amounts of your policy limits. Unfortunately, these limits are often too low to cover the high expense of medical care, especially for catastrophic injuries that require ongoing treatment. This is why you should consult with an attorney who can help you understand your legal rights in such a situation. Never simply accept an at-fault driver's claim that he or she has no insurance or a statement from an insurance provider that there is not enough coverage in a policy to fairly compensate you.
If you have been injured in a car accident, don't wait to seek professional legal help. You need an attorney on your case right away exploring the details of your situation and creating a strategy to pursue justice and full compensation for all damages, including property damage, loss of transportation, all medical expenses, costs of rehabilitation, medications, lost wages now and estimated for the future, pain and suffering, and others.
At the Law Office of James H. Wood PC, we have settled more than 100 cases and tried more than 30 cases to a jury, obtaining multiple verdicts and settlements of $1 million or more. You can count on us to fight for the best possible outcome for your case.
Contact our firm to speak with a personal injury lawyer in Albuquerque with extensive experience in motor vehicle collision cases.