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Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions

Every year, more than six million Americans fall victim to car accidents. Almost a third of them lead to injury and nearly 70 percent result in some sort of property damage. With statistics like that, it’s tough to face the fact that you may likely be involved in a crash at some point.

The key to protecting yourself and your rights lies in knowledge. The more you know about what to do following an accident, the greater your chances of receiving the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. As an American citizen, you have the right to claim compensation for any damage that occurs as the result of another party’s negligence. Whether your car is totaled or lightly scratched—and whether you walk away injury-free or not—you can and should pursue legal compensation through a car accident attorney.

At The Patel Firm PLLC If you have been involved in a car accident, we guide you through some of the situations and regulations that surround the occurrence. Below we’ve addressed some of the most-asked questions that leave crash victims unsure of their rights. Read on to find out more about what to do after a crash, what sort of compensation you may receive, and which steps to take to protect your wellbeing.

Car Accident FAQs

What should my first priority be after a car accident occurs?

Your personal health, safety, and wellbeing should always be your top priority after a crash. It can be difficult to place yourself at the forefront of the situation; many of us have heard that we need to take a multitude of steps after a car accident occurs. It’s true that, eventually, you may need to consult with insurance agents and attorneys—but does that matter if your injuries prove fatal? The first thing that you should do after a car accident is to seek medical attention.

In the case of a severe crash, that medical attention will likely be brought to you in the form of first responders. Some accidents don’t necessitate this level of urgency. If you were not treated at (or transported for treatment from) the scene of your accident, see your primary care physician as soon as possible to ensure your health.

Should I call the police?

Yes. Even if a car accident proves minor, you may want a crash report on file in the future. The responding officer also serves as one more individual who saw the scene of the crash and any damage that may have been caused. You should call the police immediately after a car accident takes place. This will assist you tremendously in any efforts to document evidence. If the other driver involved in the crash refuses to provide their personal information, a police officer can help you procure those details.

What information should I collect at the scene?

The other driver’s information| This includes their name, phone number, driver’s license information, and insurance information. If the other driver is willing to provide a recorded statement about the accident, it could prove helpful in the future.
Witness information| If anybody witnessed your car accident, collect their names and phone numbers.
Police report information| Ideally, you should call the police regardless of a car accident’s severity. It’s the best way to get the details of your crash on-record as soon as possible. Make sure you note the crash report number and the responding officer’s name.
Injuries and damage| If you have access to a camera—and thanks to the advent of smartphones, you probably do—take pictures of any injuries or damage dealt to you or your property. This helps paint a clear picture of the direct aftermath of the accident.

How do I access my accident report?

If you contacted the police following your accident and filed an accident report, you have a legal right to view and share that report with the appropriate parties. Most responding officers will offer you their name and the name of their department—this will help you know where to look for the report.

Depending on which agency responded to your accident, you may be able to access your report via the web. This is undoubtedly the simplest way to collect documentation. Some agencies, however, require that you mail in a written request for the report. You may need to pay a few dollars for your report regardless of which mode of delivery you select.

Should I talk to the insurance company?

Many car accident victims find themselves in the position to speak with insurance representatives before they even recognize that they may need an attorney. If you’ve already spoken to the insurance company, don’t worry—as long as you haven’t accepted any settlement offers, you likely still have the right to pursue compensation in court. If at all possible, it is best to consult with a legal professional before discussing your accident with insurance agents or adjusters. A lawyer can help guide you through the process of filing a report with insurance and avoiding lowball compensation offers.

Some insurance companies resort to questionable practices that amount to little more than setting traps for accident victims. It will always benefit you to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side. Don’t forget: you’re legally obligated to report the car accident to your own insurance company. Regardless of who was or was not at fault for the crash, it’s important to keep your insurance company informed. Knowledgeable attorneys will be more than happy to assist you in this process.

What if the other driver was uninsured?

Texas is actually home to a sizable group of uninsured motorists. Nobody can say for sure how many uninsured drivers are traveling on Texas roads, but statistics indicate that over fourteen percent of the state’s motorists drive without insurance. This information can prove sobering if you’re unfortunate enough to collide with one of these individuals.

In cases like these, you will not receive compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company—they don’t have one, after all. You must pursue compensation through your own insurance policy’s uninsured motorist coverage. The bulk of uninsured motorist clauses will cover some amount of both bodily and property damage. Drivers are not required to carry UM coverage in Texas. Your own insurance policy may not include this coverage. You can determine what coverage and compensation you may be eligible with the assistance of a legal representative. Never try to speak to your insurance company alone if an accident has already occurred and you’re unsure of your coverage.

What should I do if I think that the car accident may have been at least partially my fault?

There’s no way to determine who was at fault for your accident until your case has been assessed in a legal light. You should never tell the other party involved in the crash that you take any responsibility for what occurred. That doesn’t mean that you need to be cold, rude, or closed-off in the immediate aftermath of the car accident. Many crash victims misunderstand this concept and begin to fear even talking to the other driver involved in the accident. You can and should speak to the other driver—you’ll need their personal information, and you should ensure that they aren’t seriously wounded.

Don’t tell them that the accident was your fault. Leave that for attorneys and insurance experts to determine. You should always be cooperative and forthcoming, but keep in mind that you could set yourself up for a difficult legal battle if you rush to take responsibility for what happened.

What does “pain and suffering” refer to?

Thanks to the sensationalization of high-profile, large-payout court cases, many individuals are familiar with some of the legal terms utilized in instances like these. Most are unfamiliar with what those terms actually mean. Pain and suffering refers to non-economic damages. That means that you won’t receive payments to compensate you for pain and suffering based on any bills or expenses. Instead, you’ll need to prove the emotional severity of your injuries (or of the crash itself) and the impact that they’ve had on your life.

Pain and suffering damages may be collected to account for emotional distress. That’s why the amount of money that you receive for pain and suffering isn’t based solely on your injuries. The process of determining how much compensation you should receive to account for your pain and suffering is a complex one. Two different people can receive the same injury or experience the same trauma and experience the situation much differently. There’s no way to predict how much money you may receive to account for your pain and suffering. There are, however, a handful of factors that commonly play into the decision. These include:

1. Injury severity
2. Necessary medical treatment and rehabilitative processes
3. Length of recovery
4. Physical condition of the plaintiff (including the plaintiff’s age)
5. Long-term effects of injury or mental anguish

Is it possible to handle my case without the help of an attorney?

No. While it is technically possible, the likelihood that you’ll receive the compensation that you deserve by representing yourself is slim. Most car accident victims who elect to pursue damages without the assistance of a legal professional later recognize that they made a mistake. The laws surrounding car accidents are more than just complex—they’re made up of a tangled web of rules and regulations. Basic street knowledge of some of these concepts won’t be enough to cushion you from the blows of opposing attorneys or insurance adjusters. These parties will be actively working against you to try to minimize the compensation that you receive, if any.

This is why you need a trustworthy car accident attorney. A misstep made alone can be the end of your case—a misstep made with a lawyer by your side could prove easy to brush aside. Victims are far more likely to see success in court with a seasoned attorney there to support them. You deserve assistance and comfort during your pursuit of compensation, and retaining an attorney is one step that you can take to achieve it.

How much is my case worth?

Nobody will be able to provide a truthful or accurate answer to this question until your case has been thoroughly reviewed by a car accident attorney. Cases must be fully developed before victims can expect to receive an estimate of what their case could be worth. A wealth of factors play into how much your case ends up being worth. The extent of your injuries, damage to your personal belongings, and other impacts on your livelihood all influence how much compensation you’re eligible to receive.

Your case’s value may also fluctuate as more information about the accident comes to light. If, for example, you receive injuries that appear minor, but later exacerbate and require costly treatment months or years into the future, you can and should pursue funds to account for those costs.

An Attorney Can Help

If it’s not already evident, retaining an attorney can truly make or break your car accident case. No matter how sure you are that you’ve taken all of the right steps to protect yourself, you need real legal experience and knowledge to understand the complexities of the legal system. It’s critical to partner with a lawyer to assist you throughout this process.

At The Patel Firm, we understand how life-changing car accidents can be. We’ve helped victims fight for the compensation that they deserve after a wide variety of accidents—some small, some large, but all of them important.

If you’re interested in learning more about what to do following a car accident, a Texas personal injury attorney can help you understand your options. Call us today at (361) 400-2036 or contact us online.

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