Imagine you’re sitting on the 405, stuck in traffic, trying to get to work. The driver behind you is too busy tweeting about traffic instead of paying attention. You and your car pay the price when he slams into you. The damage to your vehicle is evident and you too may have serious injuries.
At that time many victims wonder whom should they contact and what legal action should they take? Is a lawsuit needed? If it is, should they sue the reckless driver or his insurance company? Accidents can upend your world. Dealing with insurance and legal scenarios can be confusing and add stress to an already difficult situation.
Every car accident is different, so there isn’t a one size fits all plan. However, here are some important suggestions you should remember.
First, Determine Liability
The first and most important thing you need to do is determine who is at fault. You don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes. The police will often do this for you, so call them immediately. They will interview witnesses, create an accident report, and can determine who’s at fault. You can then request a copy of the report to use as evidence. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of the accident and any associated damage. Use your smartphone but make sure any filters are turned off and resist the urge to post the pictures on social media.
Gathering evidence and having a police report is very crucial because, without it, the ‘at-fault person’s’ insurance company can easily find a way of not paying you back. The best way to ensure proper compensation for your damages is to work with a professional personal injury attorney.
Negotiate with the Insurance Company
You may be inclined to head straight for the courthouse or Judge Judy but settling your case out of court is always the best course of action. It reduces the time and cost of a settlement. Only if an agreement can’t be reached should you consider taking the case to court. However, just because you aren’t going to court, doesn’t mean that you should handle the matter yourself.
You should let an experienced personal injury lawyer manage all your negotiations after a car accident. Before the negotiations your lawyer will gather all evidence, compile the medical bills, time missed at work, as well as any ongoing pain and suffering. These will be totaled to a certain sum and be presented in the first settlement meeting.
It’s important to note that most insurance companies will not accept the first offer. Negotiations then take place. This is where you can benefit from hiring a professional attorney that will stand his/her ground on the total amount of compensation needed.
Suing the Reckless Driver in a Car Accident
When the negotiations fail, your attorney will advise you to sue the driver. The driver is sued and not the insurance company because the driver is the one at fault. However, the driver’s insurance agreement outlines that the insurance company will cover damages up to a certain dollar amount. This is when having a competent attorney is invaluable.
Many drivers may only have minimum liability coverage of $15,000 meaning that is the maximum amount their insurance company will pay. You could end up paying for your medical bills out of your own pocket. It’s imperative to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to advise you on the best course of action.
What If the Reckless Driver is Not Insured?
Dealing with an uninsured driver makes the matter more challenging. That is why it is illegal for anyone to drive without being insured. One option in this situation would be to sue the careless driver. But if they are not insured, then more than likely they do not have the funds to cover your damages. The result is you have spent money suing them and would still have no financial compensation.
Another more practical option would be contacting your car insurance company and making use of the uninsured motorist clause in your policy. Your insurer would then cover the damages. You might think that your insurance company would be eager to help you but unfortunately, that is not always the case. Even though you pay premiums, their primary concern is their bottom line. Therefore, even when dealing with your insurance company, it’s important to have a lawyer guide you through the process.
The Bottom Line
Whether you choose to settle your auto accident injury case or sue the driver in court, it is always best to have a professional personal injury attorney by your side. Here at the Alexandroff Law Group, we have some of the top attorneys in the nation. At the negotiating table and in the court room we will work for you to receive maximum compensation for injuries and damages. We never charge any upfront fees, Contact us today for a free consultation.