Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
We know you're confused after your accident and we're here to help
If you've been involved in a car accident, you probably have many important questions that need to be answered right away. Such questions often cover a wide range, including how you will be compensated for your accident to what you should do immediately after your crash. At the Law Offices of James Morris, we've been representing accident victims for decades, and we have the answers you need.
- What should I do right after an accident?
- I'm sure I was hit by a drunk driver, but he swears he was sober. What can I do?
- How can an attorney prove that the other driver was at fault?
- How much compensation can I collect?
- The driver who hit me doesn't have insurance. What else can I do?
- If I'm just dealing with my own insurance company, do I really need an attorney?
- Should I accept a settlement offer soon after the accident?
This general information should give you some idea of what to do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. For more information about your specific case, contact our law firm for a free consultation. We have the experience, knowledge and hard-hitting approach to stand up to the insurance companies and bring you the justice you deserve.
First, remember that leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. Make sure the scene is safe, and stay where you are to exchange information with the other driver. Remember not to say anything regarding fault or liability for the accident - just stick to the facts. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene and get contact information for any witnesses.
See a doctor as soon as possible, even if you don't think you were hurt. Often, car accidents cause internal injuries that can take days or weeks to become readily apparent. Being seen early not only protects your health, but also will strengthen your case for personal injury compensation later.
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible, but again, don't say anything regarding fault for the accident. Report the facts of what happened, and that's it. Speak with one of our attorneys before giving any liability-related information, even to your own insurance company.
If the other driver's insurance company tries to contact you, don't speak with them at all. Again, call us, then tell the insurance company to direct any questions to your attorney.
It's quite common for drivers involved in an accident to change their stories after the fact, especially if they were intoxicated at the time. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be your word against his. Our legal team will investigate your case and look for evidence that the other driver was drunk. For instance, we might find eyewitness reports that he was weaving through traffic or driving in the wrong lane. We may even be able to find the person who supplied him with alcohol and - depending on the circumstances - file a liability claim against that individual as well.
The key to collecting personal injury compensation after an accident is to show that the other driver was negligent. By looking at all the evidence surrounding your accident, our attorneys can build that case. For instance, a lack of skid marks, showing that the other driver didn't hit the brakes before impact, may help prove that he or she was asleep at the wheel. Likewise, eyewitness reports and the driver's own comments may point to distracted or drunk driving. We may also find evidence showing that the driver was speeding, passing illegally or otherwise not obeying traffic laws.
Car accident claims can cover almost any expense that results directly from the accident. That includes:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Property damage
- Towing and storage
If you suffer a permanent injury or disfigurement, you may be entitled to compensation for lost quality of life or loss of consortium. Compensation for pain and suffering can also be substantial, especially if an injury leaves you with chronic pain. If the other driver's actions were particularly reckless or malicious, you might even be awarded punitive damages - that is, payments intended to punish the responsible party.
Insurance companies are adept at settling claims for less than they're worth. They will often try to pay you a relatively small sum early on, before the full cost of the accident becomes apparent. An experienced lawyer from our firm will examine all of the circumstances of your accident and fight for a settlement or judgment that includes all of the compensation you deserve.
Accidents involving uninsured motorists are relatively rare in New York, but they can be nightmares when they do happen. In principle, an uninsured driver who causes an accident should have to pay damages out of his or her own assets. In practice, it's often impossible to recover those damages because the driver has no significant assets to pursue.
Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage is mandatory in New York, so you should be able to collect from your own insurance company. However, cases involving uninsured motorists can be difficult to settle, especially in hit-and-run accidents where the other driver can't be found. Multiple insurance companies may get involved and accepting a settlement from one can affect another's liability. Our attorneys will help you work through those legal complexities and get you the compensation you need, so you won't have to suffer due to another driver's negligence.
While you hope your own insurance company would treat you fairly, the reality is many insurers will do everything they can to pay their own clients as little as possible. Your insurance company might claim that the injuries you suffered during an accident were actually the result of a pre-existing condition. Or they might try to pressure you into accepting a settlement that doesn't cover all of your expenses. You need our attorneys in your corner to stand up to them and make sure they honor their responsibility to you.
Insurance companies know that accident victims are often hurt, confused and desperate to move on afterwards. They'll take full advantage by offering to settle your claim early on, betting that you'll accept a payment that may not actually cover all of your accident-related expenses. It's important to remember that in most cases, that initial settlement is much less than what the insurance company is actually willing to pay in order to avoid going to trial. Before accepting any financial offer, consult with one of our attorneys and get someone who will fight for all the compensation you're owed.