If you live in the United States and drive on a frequent basis, there is a significant chance you will experience an auto accident at some point. On average, approximately 6 million auto accidents occur every year, and about one-third of those involved in the crash experience a permanent injury.
Depending on the state where the accident occurred, a person seeking financial compensation after a collision will either have to sue the other driver’s insurance provider or the other driver themselves. Because insurance companies typically take an adverse stance toward paying damages, this will often result in a lengthy and challenging court battle.
Should you experience an unfortunate auto accident, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to assist you in navigating the complexities of your lawsuit. A lawyer experienced in personal injury can help you build a sound case to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
This post should provide you with a roadmap to get started.
Preparation: Collecting All Necessary Information
When the auto accident occurs, do not leave the scene. Call 9-1-1 to report your accident and ask them to send a police officer to the scene. As you await their arrival, safely exit your vehicle and take pictures of the scene and ask the other driver for their insurance information.
When the officers arrive, provide your account to them. Report the details as accurately as possible.
The officer will also likely ask if you would like to go to a hospital for an evaluation. If you feel pain or stiffness in any part of your body, you should consider accepting this offer. This will create an official record of you seeking medical treatment for any potential injuries.
If you are unable to retrieve this information
In some cases, the victim of an accident may suffer severe injury or lose consciousness. Here, emergency medical attention should take priority.
If you are taken to the hospital and are unable to collect evidence of the accident yourself, be sure to photograph your vehicle’s damage as soon as you are able to or ask a friend or family member to do so in your absence.
You should also obtain the following information once you are able to:
- A copy of the other motorist’s insurance information
- A copy of the police report
- Medical records of your hospital visit
In some jurisdictions, police departments may automatically provide you with the other person’s insurance information and the official report. If they do not, you should call the department and request it as soon as possible. The medical staff at the hospital should be able to provide you with your medical record upon request before you are discharged.
If you need post-discharge treatment After an auto accident
Some auto accidents result in severe personal injury that requires post-discharge treatment, such as physical therapy or follow-up specialist care. In the event that you need to seek ongoing care, you should document every visit and provide your providers’ contact information to the lawyer you hire. They may request an official statement or in-person testimony from them during your trial.
Start by researching auto accident lawyers in your Area
You should start by researching personal injury attorneys in your area that have particular experience with auto accidents. These individuals and their team will provide guidance in a number of ways and can begin preparing the lawsuit on your behalf. They will also possess a strong familiarity with the many counterarguments that the defending parties will present to combat your claims in court. This invaluable insight can help expedite your court proceedings and cut through some of the obstacles the defending party will put in your path.
Interview Attorneys that you are interested in hiring
Similar to how patients will interview multiple surgeons when preparing for a major operation, you should also do your due diligence when screening attorneys. Ask the attorney about their prior experience in auto accident cases, their successes and failures in these situations, and their pricing information. You will want to ultimately select an attorney that both demonstrates a successful track record and can work within your budget.
Once you’ve decided on your lawyer, Prepare your case
After you decide which auto accident lawyer to hire, they will ask that you provide them with all evidence that you have available. They may also advise you to collect other types of evidence that you may not have on hand at that time.
Some evidence that you should prepare for your case includes:
- Photos of the accident
- The other motorist’s insurance information
- The official police report of the accident
- Any medical records related to the accident
- Any records of post-discharge care received after being released from the hospital
- A report from an automotive mechanic that details the extent of your vehicle’s damage and repair costs
- Official statements from medical providers detailing the severity of your injuries or other conditions developed as a result of the accident
- A personal account of any and all other hardships you have suffered as a result of the accident.
Work with your lawyer to file charges
Your lawyer can aid you in filing charges against the party that caused your auto accident. They can help you determine a fair and realistic financial amount to sue for and will advise you on what to expect in your upcoming court dates.
Prepare for a potentially lengthy court battle
Depending on the state where your accident occurred, you may have to sue the person’s insurance provider instead of the offending party directly. Insurance providers will deploy their own legal team to try and defeat your claims before the court.
If you are trying to prove injury and seek financial compensation, the defending legal counsel may require that you also receive an evaluation from their own designated medical providers. From their perspective, this will help ensure that you are not potentially obtaining biased testimony from any third parties.
This tactic is also designed to extend the length of the trial and place a greater burden of proof on the defendant. The goal for the defense’s legal team is to try to pressure the plaintiff to give up and drop the charges or settle for a lower offer in hopes to end the ordeal sooner. In most cases, unless an out-of-court settlement offer proves reasonable, your lawyer will advise that you stay the course and continue until the trial’s proper conclusion.
Don’t give up hope – Attorneys can aid you today
Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident can be stressful, time-consuming, and difficult. However, with an experienced lawyer by your side, you can build your case and enter the courtroom with confidence knowing that you have a sound argument and an increased likelihood of receiving the compensation you deserve.
If you are a Delaware resident and would like to speak with experienced auto accident lawyers, contact us anytime to see how we can help you.