Personal Injury & Accident Law

Steps to Take After an Auto Accident to Build a Legal Case

????????????????????????????????????(Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/50/Japanese_car_accident_blur.jpg)

Most of the time, troubles do not warn you of their arrival. Motor vehicle accidents occur in a sudden, transient, bewildering moment that can leave you injured and/or in a state of panic.

Many a time, victims of car accidents get so flabbergasted by the situation that they’re unable to figure out what to do next. Knowing the first steps to take after an accident, however, can be crucial to availing the necessary medical and legal assistance, and safeguarding your right to compensation and justice.

It is all the more important to seek legal counsel if another driver was responsible for you becoming a victim of an accident.

A few simple steps immediately after the accident can not only protect your rights as the victim, it can also ensure that you have a strong basis for filing a lawsuit. These steps can help you and/or injured passengers claim and recover compensation for the damages suffered due to another person’s negligence.

Mentioned ahead are the few speedy steps that you should take to protect your right to compensation in the aftermath of an auto accident.

1. Check for Injuries

You’re bound to be in pain after a car accident. Figure out if you’re injured too. If you had passengers with you in the car, ask them if they are hurt. If you feel fine, approach the other vehicle and inquire if its occupants are okay. If you or the people involved in the accident have been injured, call 911 and seek urgent medical help.

Irrespective of how you feel, you should make it a point to visit your doctor. At times, the injuries aren’t immediately apparent, especially internal ones, and the symptoms appear only after a few days. Do watch out for those.

It is also important to maintain records of all the medical treatments received as that will be helpful in making a legal claim later.

2. Capture the Accident Scene

Take ample pictures of the accident site with the help of your cell phone or a camera. Click pictures of the vehicles involved and their impact points (the point where they hit each other), the damage to the exterior and the interior parts, broken glass, skid marks, scratches, and so on.

Also try and get several pictures of any damage caused to other objects on the site such as lamp posts, signal poles, signage, lane dividers, and so on.

Capture all the visible injuries that you and/or your passengers have sustained on camera. Get names and contact details of other people involved in the accident, as well as of those who witnessed it. If the circumstances surrounding your accident were unique or complicated in nature, write or record notes about it while the incident is still fresh and clear in your memory.

The pictures can work as evidence and go a long way in strengthening your case. They can prove your claim about where the fault lies, and determine the extent of damage and injuries incurred from the accident.

As your case progresses, continue retaining all the documents pertaining to your accident, particularly your medical records, bills for prescription drugs and treatment procedures, and receipts of other expenses incurred due to the accident.

3. Call the Police

Call the police immediately after the collision, report the accident and wait for them to arrive at the accident site. This is an important step as the police need to carry out their own investigations and collect evidence which will ultimately lead to the issuance of an official report of the accident.

These reports contain crucial information about the possible witnesses to the accident. Further, they may also help in determining which motorist was responsible for the accident.

4. Get the Other Driver’s Information

In the case of other driver(s) being involved in the car accident, you will be required to make a note of their names and contact information as well. Moreover, be sure to jot down their driver’s license number, vehicle details (model, make, license plate number), name of their insurance carrier and their insurance policy number.

5. Call Your Insurance Company

Make sure you call your insurance company as soon as you can to report the car accident. The insurers will want to know every detail of the accident, including the exact place and time the accident occurred. They will also want to know if anyone else was involved in the accident.

When speaking to your insurance company, ensure that you do not accept any blame for the accident. Only report the facts of the episode. Admitting even partial blame for causing the accident could work against you in acquiring your claim.

6. Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

Being in a car accident can be extremely hard on you both, physically and mentally. Your first priority after that should be to recuperate and get back to your former fit self. The last thing you need is the stress of having to fight an accident lawsuit and running from pillar to post gathering evidence in your sensitive health condition.

You will do well to engage the services of a car accident lawyer from same area where the accident occurred as such a lawyer will not only have specialized in auto accident laws, but will also be well-versed with the complex laws and the latest amendments in this field. For instance, if the accident took place in Joliet, you will have to look for a car accident lawyer in Joliet.

An experienced attorney will be able to help you receive the rightful settlement from your insurance provider, and assist you in seeking compensation from the other driver’s insurance carrier. Do consult one to find out how he can protect your rights.

Conclusion

The first few immediate steps you take after being hit by a moving vehicle can go a long way in supporting your auto accident lawsuit. Contacting an experienced attorney is also crucial as he can guide you and take your case in the right direction, and get you the compensation you deserve. The above points should help you understand what you need to do right after being in an auto accident to help strengthen your case.

How to Pick a Top Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal Injury Lawyer(Image credit: www.flickr.com)

Being a victim of personal injury is not only stressful but also emotionally devastating. In a distressing situation like this, there’s one person who can fight for your rights and help you claim the compensation that you are entitled to- a personal injury lawyer.

Choosing the right personal injury lawyer plays a very crucial role. Although this can be a daunting task, as there are several well-known lawyers to choose from. Moreover, personal injury law can be quite complex to comprehend. You need a lawyer who has expertise in this niche and is fully qualified to handle your claim.

Here are four essential tips for choosing the right personal injury lawyer.

1. Thorough Research Is a Must

Research, research and research.

It’s only through research that you will be able to know about the reputation that various lawyers hold in the legal community. On the basis of this research, you will be able to whittle down your list of lawyers to two or three prospective ones.

There are a lot of ways to find the most reputable lawyer- one who will know how to exactly deal with your case.

Referrals are an excellent way to get the right personal injury lawyer.  You can ask your friends, colleagues or relatives. Another way to find a good lawyer in your area is to look it up online. Let’s say you are searching for a personal injury attorney in Joliet. You could search online for personal injury lawyers Joliet. This can fetch you a lot of relevant results.

Once you have shortlisted a few, you could check where they stand through their online rating. This will provide you with a clearer picture and help you in making your final decision.

Some of the most reliable rating programs are:

2. Choose an Expert

Once you are done with your research, you need to see to it that the lawyer that you have chosen is an expert in the field of personal injury. This is one of the most pivotal steps.

When choosing an expert, you must bear two things in mind:

  • One of the worst and unethical forms of practicing law is ambulance chasing. Wikipedia equates ‘ambulance chasing’ with barratry. One of the oldest references to ambulance chasers has been made by J.E. McDonald, President of the South Carolina Bar Association in 1905. You need to be aware and ensure that you avoid a lawyer that engages in such practice.
  • Have you come across the phrase- “Jack of all trades, master of none?”

Avoid going for someone who doesn’t specialize or have considerable experience in the field of personal injury. Not taking care of this aspect will increase your chances of losing your case.

  • What percentage of his/her practice is devoted to personal injury cases?
  • How many years of experience he/she has in handling such cases?
  • How much of your case will be handled by him/her?
  • Can you talk to some of his/her representative clients?

These questions will help you in clearing two of the most important doubts you may have – How much of an expert he/she is and whether or not he/she is trustworthy.

Moreover, you must know that a majority of the personal injury lawsuits get settled before trial i.e. out of court, so your lawyer must know how to negotiate a fair and a reasonable settlement. This is very important.

3. Check the Lawyer’s Resources

When it comes to dealing with a personal injury lawsuit, two resources are immensely important – manpower and money.

There’s nothing worse than being pressured into taking an inadequate settlement. This can be a likely scenario if your lawyer lacks the resources to fund your case properly. Then the situation can get arduous for you.

Therefore, it’s important that a lawyer is not only skilled, but also has the resources necessary to deal with your case. When hiring him, study the attorney’s office meticulously. Where is it located? Is it large, comfortable and furnished appropriately? Does the attorney have supportive staff? Does he/she have sufficient monetary reserves?

If the answer to any of this is in the negative, then think twice before hiring him/her.

4. Choose a Lawyer Who Is Clear About the Expenses

How would you feel if your lawyer charges a ridiculously high amount at the end of the case?

To eliminate this likely situation, you need to ensure that the lawyer is being clear about his/her fees and expenses from the very beginning.

You need to know the answers to all the following questions beforehand.

  • What is his/her fee structure?
  • What out-of-expenses will you have to deal with?”
  • What is a typical settlement range for cases similar to yours?
  • Is he/she going to provide you with a retainer agreement that lists the expenses of the case?

If he/she is trying to dodge any of these questions or something seems even a least bit twisted, then you need to be careful.

There are various factors that can affect the cost of hiring a personal injury attorney such as:

  • The complexity of the case.
  • The time it takes for the case to settle.
  • Whether the attorney must pursue litigation.
  • The size of your settlement.

The point to bear in mind is that you need to be very sure about what and how much you will owe the attorney depending on the outcome of the case. By being absolutely clear about this beforehand, you will save yourself any hassle.

Conclusion

Choosing the right personal injury lawyer can be an uphill task. But by keeping in mind the tips mentioned above, you will surely be able to find the right one and seek justice for the wrong that has been done to you or your close ones. Just make sure that you don’t compromise on any of the qualities that a personal injury attorney must have; neither should you rush into the hiring process. Take your time and choose the lawyer who makes you feel understood and represented.

The Tomczak Law Group