I never use the word accident.
In my twenty years, I have seen very, very few accidents and many, many wrecks. An accident suggests something that just happened, without the fault of one person or the other. Rarely, is a wreck an accident. In virtually every case I have seen, and all those where I have accepted representation, someone did something that violated the Rules of The Road. Some were very serious, like driving while intoxicated, others more common, like speeding. Whether serious or common, someone violated a well-known rule and that decision, no accident, caused harm to another person. Those are the cases that I handle. I do not handle accident cases.
Given the size of modern vehicles, when the Rules of the Road get violated, people tend to get hurt, sometimes seriously. When you’ve been injured in a wreck, your first concern is the health, safety, and well-being of you and those with you, as it should be.
In the event of a car wreck, take the following steps:
1) Before doing anything else, if you are able, make sure your car is in a safe place, out of traffic, where you cannot be hit a second time. Activate your emergency flashers and immediately call 911. Call 911, whether you believe you have been hurt or not. If someone is hurt, it will be very important that the police prepare a report of the incident and that emergency medical professionals are available.
2) Self-evaluate your injuries and the injuries of those around you. In all but the most minor of wrecks, get evaluated by a professional. Not all injuries are immediately visible or immediately symptomatic. In some cases, the symptoms of a concussion may not be seen for a week or more. Frequently, the adrenaline charge of having been involved in a wreck will mask the symptoms of even serious injuries. Your concern should be on getting help, then taking care of yourself, and those around you. Until that is done, the chances are you won’t have a thought about the legal consequences of the wreck, and you should not.
3) Once you have been medically cleared to do so, by those on site or a medical doctor, you should begin to consider the legal issues that you will face, as soon as possible. You should know that the insurance company began investigating your wreck within minutes of learning about it. There is important evidence that can be lost forever if not preserved immediately. The sooner you act, the sooner your attorney can preserve that evidence. Without an attorney, you can expose yourself to liabilities arising from liens from your insurance carrier, Medicare, and Medicaid. Also, you will almost certainly pay more when you do pay those liens.
Many people wonder whether they need an attorney for a wreck that caused minor injuries.
In all but rare cases, the answer to this question is yes. You need an attorney, and as soon as possible. No matter the severity of your injuries, there are many issues that you will face in securing reasonable compensation for the injuries and property damage resulting from a car wreck. Most law firms offer a free consultation. Mine does. In that consultation, the attorney can assess your case and offer you recommendations on how best to pursue your case. If you have chosen wisely, the attorney will tell you whether counsel is necessary to your claim or not, without charge.
4) Finally, beware of insurance adjusters. Insurance adjusters are now trained to call you immediately after a wreck. They know that if they can get to you before you hire an attorney, they may save their company money. They literally have training manuals on this. I know, I have one of their manuals!
Under your policy of insurance, you have an obligation to cooperate with your company, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk to them while you’re still injured or in the hospital- and neither does anyone else. If you get a call from your adjuster, tell them you want an opportunity to consider hiring counsel and that you will cooperate with them after consulting with counsel. If the other driver’s adjuster calls, you have no obligation to provide them with information and you should not talk to them until you consult with an attorney.
Insurance Company studies demonstrate that they pay more to those with an attorney. That is why you will always receive an immediate call from an insurance adjuster. Inevitably, they will tell you that you don’t need an attorney and then they will try to pay you before you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Do yourself and your family a favor: do not talk to the adjuster until you consult with counsel. Do not sign anything until you have protected yourself by retaining competent counsel.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a wreck, set up your free consultation today by calling (217) 394-5885 or by clicking on the 'Chat Now' button.