Despite significant improvements in automobiles and the design of roads, automobile accidents remain one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an automobile accident occurs every 8 seconds in the United States. Even more alarming, approximately 115 people die every day from automobile accidents. In 2005, there were more than 6,400,000 auto accidents in the United States, and approximately 45 percent of those accidents resulted in injuries. The most common causes for automobile accidents include the following:
- UNSAFE ROADWAYS
- BROKEN TRAFFIC SIGNALS
- DEFECTIVE EQUIPMENT
- DRIVER ERROR
- RECKLESS DRIVING
- DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
- POOR MAINTENANCE OF THE VEHICLE
If you have been a victim of a car accident, you deserve the opportunity to seek fair compensation. It's not fair for someone else's wrongdoing to cost your family thoussands of dollars in meical bills and other expenses.
AUTO ACCIDENT INJURIES: SIX THINGS YOU MAY NOT HAVE CONSIDERED
Most of us know what to do when we get into an auto accident. Documenting the scene of the incident, seeking immediate medical treatment, and initiating claims with your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company are all wise courses of action. But to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to, take the following steps too.
- STATING THE FACTS: Immediately after being involved or injured in a car accident it is important to initiate a police report and exchange valuable information such as names, phone numbers, license and insurance information. Many people even go so far as to take their own photos of the damaged vehicles, traffic signals, skid marks and debris. But a common mistake you want to avoid is accepting liability for the accident by apologizing or admitting fault. Often times, insurance companies will attempt to use statements like, “I’m so sorry!” to attribute fault to you. The best course of action is to simply provide an accurate, honest and detailed statement of exactly what happened and let the police officers and insurance companies determine fault based on their investigations.
- KEEP A JOURNAL/ WRITE IT DOWN: After any traffic accident, you should immediately seek medical attention to determine what injuries may have been caused by the accident. You should also notify your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company as soon as possible to open a claim. Keeping an organized paper trail of medical records, bills and all communications with both your insurer and the third party insurer is essential, as is keeping a journal documenting all the issues that may not be apparent in your medical records. A consistent written history of everything describing your pain, symptoms, treatments and the daily impact your injuries have on you and your family is critical. Your journal, along with the written details of all conversations with adjusters is extremely important in proving pain and suffering or other loss related to the accident.
- ASK ABOUT YOUR COVERAGE: Ask your insurance company to describe in detail the types of coverages associated with your policy as well the potential coverages that may apply to your claim. This is particularly important if your policy includes Medical Payment coverage and/or Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. Request a copy of your policy and declaration page and carefully read through the policy to make sure no information or obligations are overlooked or withheld.
- SIGNING AUTHORIZATION FORMS: As part of an insurance company’s investigation, you will be overwhelmed with letters and requests regarding your claim. Insurance adjusters will ask you to sign authorization forms in order to obtain medical records and bills from health providers and wage information from your employer. Although your insurance policy may require that you sign one of these authorizations,you are not required to give your insurance company open access to all of your personal medical and employment information. Be sure to carefully read the authorization requested of you and limit the personal information the insurance company can access by restricting the language of the form to the treatment received from the accident or the days missed/wages lost for missed work due to the accident. You may explain to the other party’s insurance company you will supply all significant and material documents, records and bills once obtained or when treatment is completed in an effort to avoid signing an authorization.
- SOCIAL MEDIA & DISCUSSING THE ACCIDENT: Limiting your conversations to those directly involved with the investigation of your claim or the medical treatment of your injuries from the accident is an additional protective measure to ensure your claim is handled properly. This might also include restricting communication between you and the insurance company of the person that injured you. It is important to remember the insurance company of the person who injured you does not have the same obligations to you as your own insurer. Their job is to protect the person that injured you. It is also important to limit or even avoid online posts or discussions about your auto accident, injuries or medical treatments on social media accounts or blogs to prevent anyone from misconstruing or misunderstanding your comments or photos while your claim is being handled.
- RELEASE FORMS & SETTLEMENT CHECKS: The intention of almost all insurance companies is to settle and close claims at the earliest possible opportunity. An insurance company will do this by making a settlement offer and asking for you to sign a release of liability form. By signing the release form, you are agreeing to accept their settlement offer for damages and bring your claim to a close. More importantly, by doing so, you are relinquishing your rights to take any further legal action or bring any additional damages for your claim. Due to the nature of injuries and loss associated with auto accidents, it is always safe to wait until you are no longer in need of medical treatment or suffering any other type of physical, emotional or financial loss.
DO YOU NEED HELP WITH AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT CLAIM?
The damages that can result from an automobile accident can be both physically and emotionally daunting. When you have your future on the line, you cannot afford to put your trust in inexperienced legal counsel. Instead, you need to seek the guidance of attorneys who have extensive experience and resources to either reach a favorable settlement or win your case at trial. We have done both on behalf of our clients on numerous occasions. At Fulmer Sill, we are proud to deliver high-quality assistance to all of our clients. Should you choose to seek our legal representation, we are confident that our experience and knowledge will produce a favorable outcome for you. If you or a loved one are a victim of an automobile accident, we encourage you to consult with our team as soon as possible. All initial consultations are free, and we don’t charge any up-front fees for representation. We handle all fees on a contingency basis, meaning that unless we’re successful, you don’t have to pay us. Please contact us at (405)510.0077 for a free consultation.