The first thing you should do is document as much evidence as possible at the scene of the accident. Evidence includes photos and information on the person who caused the accident, including insurance and license information. If you are injured, you should go to an emergency room, urgent care center, or primary care physician to be examined by a medical professional. Give as much information as possible during your medical visit so that the doctor can properly document your pain and injuries. Afterwards, you should retain an experienced attorney who handles personal injury cases. Your attorney will notify your insurance and the at-fault party’s insurance of your injury claim, and will also help you seek proper medical treatment for your injuries.
Even if you think you may have contributed to the accident, it may not necessarily be the case. Many times, law enforcement will place blame on one of the parties even if the law enforcement officer did not see the accident. Therefore, even if the police report states you were partially at fault, it may not be accurate, and your attorney can dispute it.
If you were partially at fault, you still have a potential case, as long as your percentage of fault is less than 50%. The amount awarded to you by a jury verdict would be reduced by the percentage of fault you have. For example, if you get a $100,000 verdict and the jury thinks you’re 20% at fault, then that $100,000 verdict will get reduced to $80,000.
Prompt medical attention for injuries is crucial, and is the foundation on which your case is built. If you are injured and fail to seek immediate medical attention, it will be harder to establish credibility regarding the extent and seriousness of your injuries. The longer you wait to seek medical treatment, the more negative of an impact there will be on your case. On the other hand, if you seek medical treatment immediately, you can properly document when you were injured and what the nature of those injuries was at that time.
What we typically see is insurance companies reducing their valuations if the property damage is low, meaning that if pictures of the vehicles don’t show significant damage, they assume no one could have been hurt—which is completely untrue. Another technique insurance companies use is to blame the injuries on preexisting conditions such as age or prior injuries, which also is not fair or consistent with legal requirements.
While we hope our clients take our advice, the decision of whether or not to settle a case or go forward with litigation is 100% made by the client. We advise our clients based on our extensive experience and on what we believe will be the most beneficial path for them. When considering a settlement offer, we ask our clients whether the money being offered would change their lives in a positive enough manner. We want our clients to be fairly compensated for their injuries and their pain and suffering.
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