Car Accident Attorney for Gulf Coast, AL, MS, FL, and GA Residents
A car accident is a traumatic and confusing event. At first you are driving normally on the road, observing the traffic patterns and seeking out directions from the road signs and street lights. Then, out of nowhere, something collides with your vehicle. The impact shakes your whole car. Your heart is pounding fast in your chest.
Unfortunately, car accidents are a routine part of life. An average of six million people are involved in a car accident yearly, with three million of those involved being injured as a direct result. Even more shocking is that almost 90 people die daily because of a car accident.
A few common reasons for accidents are as follows:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol.
- Driving while under the influence of another drug.
- Driving while tired.
- Reckless driving.
- Distracted driving.
Distracted driving includes a wide umbrella of examples including texting, talking on the phone, eating, and others.
Types of Car Accidents
Different types of car accidents can cause different types of damage. One of the first things you will discover when you exit your vehicle is how your car was struck.
- Rear-end collisions. These typically occur when a lead car suddenly decelerates, leaving no room for the trailing car to break in time. Whiplash is a common injury for these types of accidents. The trailing vehicle is typically found to be at fault for the collision.
- Sideswipe collisions. When two vehicles travel at the same speed in the same direction and bump into each other, a sideswipe has occurred. The damage for these accidents is minimal, however, a sideswipe can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, causing further damage.
- Side-impact collisions. This type of crash occurs when one vehicle’s front or rear collides with either side of another vehicle. These often happen at intersections, with the passenger on the side of the impact more likely to suffer severe injuries. Damages sustained depend on the area of the vehicle that was struck.
- Head-on collisions. This is the most serious type of accident. A head-on collision occurs when two cars collide into each other’s front-ends, sometimes causing maximum damage to the vehicles. These types of accidents also lead to the most fatalities.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Any of these accident categorizations can cause one or multiple injuries to various body parts of the sufferer.
Injuries sustained to the head can include concussions and traumatic brain injuries. Individuals may also sustain harm to the back, including spinal cord damage and herniated discs. Neck injuries include whiplash and vocal cord paralysis, while chest injuries include cardiac arrest.
Other injuries that can occur in a car accident include: broken bones, bruises, torn muscles, cuts, foot damage, collapsed lungs, swelling, nerve damage, and more.
What to Do Immediately After an Accident
The first thing to do after a car accident is to check and make sure that all parties involved are okay. If immediate medical assistance is required for anyone, make sure that an ambulance has been ordered to the site of the accident. A law enforcement officer will also need to be notified and called to the scene.
At this time, if you are physically able, it is crucial that you begin to document the scene of the accident. This will help you later during your car accident claim or, potentially, your lawsuit against the offending driver.
In order to have your case properly documented, follow these steps:
- Record notes. These notes will be important to your claim, especially in the coming months after your memory’s accuracy has faltered. Jot relevant information in a notepad, notebook, or any piece of paper you can find. Relevant information includes the names of the drivers, how the accident occurred, the speeds being driven, the conditions of the road, distractions, what was said immediately following the accident, and the other driver’s insurance information. If there is anything else you believe to be important, such as the location or position of a road sign, write it down as well.
- Talk to witnesses. Survey the perimeter of the accident to determine if there are any people around that saw what occurred. An outside observer may have a different perspective than the parties directly involved. Try to get contact information from them as well as confirmation that they will be willing to make a verbal or written statement about what they saw. This will help you corroborate your story with the insurance adjuster or in the event of a lawsuit.
- Talk to the police. The police officer assigned to the accident will take notes about what happened, which is another account that will be viewed by the adjuster and by the court if the case is taken to trial. A police report carries more authority than the accounts of the involved parties and the eyewitnesses. Sometimes the offending driver will try and convince you not to phone the police. If this is the case, make sure you phone a law enforcement official, no matter what.
- Take photographs. Photographs will also help corroborate your account of the accident against the account of the other driver. The photos should be able to distinguish the time and dates they were taken. If you have the ability, take pictures of exterior damage to all involved vehicles, vehicle positions at the crash site, the surrounding perimeter of the crash site, license plates, the interior damage of involved vehicles, and any debris or marks left on the road caused by the collision.
Understanding the Insurance Investigation
Shortly after your insurance company has been notified about the accident, they will call you to assess the situation and record all relevant information. After the initial call, they will assign a claims adjuster to sift through all the collected information, including accident reports, medical files, witness accounts, and vehicle damage, to determine who is at fault.
While this investigation is underway, your own insurance company will cover your car repairs and medical bills. This is a process called indemnification. It allows you to continue to carry on your daily life while the adjusters work to assess the fault and determine which insurance provider has to cover the damages.
When to Seek Legal Counsel for Your Car Accident
Though most of the time your insurance provider will be able to compensate you appropriately for the damages to your property and your body, there are cases where the adjuster will either try to delay or block payment, or the compensation received is not enough to cover the long-term medical bills that come with the injuries you sustained at the hands of a negligible driver. After all, the insurance companies are trying to keep the amount of money they pay out for claims to the minimum.
If you feel that you have been unfairly compensated for your sustained injuries, you have the right to seek out additional compensation. In these cases, it is best to seek out legal counsel and bring the claim to court, where a judge will be able to determine the fair amount you are owed.
The Importance of a Car Accident Lawyer
An auto accident lawyer is an important investment if you have a limited window in which you can bring your lawsuit to trial. In most states, the limit is one to two years after the date of the accident. A car accident lawyer will also be able to navigate all of the complex auto accident state laws and inform you if you even have the legal right to bring about a lawsuit in your state. A car accident lawyer will also be able to use all of the information you collected to establish a case of liability against the offending driver.
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