No matter how good of a driver you are and how carefully you drive, one day you are going to be in a car accident. If you don’t think so, consider this: all drivers will file some sort of claim for a car accident once every 17.9 years. You most likely will file an accident claim about once every 10 or 11 years. So, it’s going to happen – you might as well be ready for it.
The first thing you do when you’re involved with an automobile accident with another driver is exchange insurance information. All 50-states require that all drivers carry some sort of state-approved liability car accident insurance.
What if You Don’t Have Insurance?
If you don’t have car insurance and you have an accident? You are probably going to have your car impounded and spend a night in the cooler. So, just make sure you have insurance and it is paid-up and current at all times when you’re driving.
If there is not another driver involved in the car accident – that is, you backed into a light pole or hit some stationary object with your car? If the object is badly damaged you should definitely call the police and file an accident report.
Sure, you can sneak away if there’s no one else there to see and/or report it, but remember, there are surveillance cameras everywhere, these days. Probably the smart move is to report the accident rather than have some camera record it, then the authorities get your car’s plate number, and the state adds “leaving the scene of an accident” to the charges related to this accident.
Should You Hire an Attorney?
If it’s a minor accident, you probably won’t need legal counsel. But if there’s considerable damage, say, over $1,000 worth? You should definitely hire an attorney to represent you, even if the accident is entirely the other driver’s fault.
The other driver’s insurance company is going to pull every trick in the book to limit its liability, from skimping on repairs and a rental car while your car is in the shop, to chiseling you on your totaled car value, if it is determined that the damage to your car exceeds its total value.
There’s also the issue of the extent of damage exceeding the at fault driver’s liability insurance limits. If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy has a limit of $10,000 for property damage and this particular car accident caused $12,000 worth of damage to your car, the other driver’s insurance company will only pay up to the $10,000 limit.
Some drivers carry low-limit car insurance to guard against this shortfall. But if you don’t have low-limit insurance, it’s going to be up to your attorney to try and get the balance of the money owed to you for fixing your car by other means, such as getting a judgment against the other driver and a court-ordered lien on his or her property. This is complicated legal stuff and you won’t be able to do this yourself.
There’s also the issue of personal injury to you as a result of this car accident. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, medically referred to as an “MRI”, is the standard method for identifying potential soft-tissue injury.
MRI’s are a non-invasive procedure in which the patient is placed, lying down, on a motorized bed-table. This table passes you through a powerful magnetic field that scans the inside of your body. An MRI is like an X-ray but without the negative side effect of exposure to radiation, which has a high risk of causing other cancers.
Radiologists will discuss potential trouble spots with you after they read the results of your MRI. Based upon these results, your orthopedist will define a treatment regimen for you and therapy sessions will begin. It is not uncommon that soft tissue injuries can take several months, or even a year, to be treated completely.
Based upon therapeutic information from the doctor, your lawyer will then convince your insurance carrier to commit to a complete and successful healthcare outcome for you, no matter what the costs. The important issue here is that your automobile accident injuries do not revisit your life many years in the future. This happens more often than not with many car accidents.
How About Your Driving Record?
It is important that you establish fault with any car accident because that accident can remain on your driving record for 3 years, or even more in some instances. If there is a dispute over the issue of fault, your attorney will have to make sure the other driver receives blame. Otherwise your insurance rates will go up more than you can imagine.