CROOK LAW

Automobile Accidents

   It is unfortunate that during a person’s lifetime, he or she will more likely be involved in an automobile accident, whether it is nothing more than a fender bender, backing into another vehicle in a parking lot, or a scratch down the side of your automobile.  Unfortunately, there are other automobile accidents which result in serious injury to either the occupants of the vehicle and/or other automobiles or pedestrians.  Depending upon the degree of the accident, decisions need to be made whether to hire an attorney.  If an accident involves nothing more than a fender bender and no injury to any person, more than likely, you will be able to settle your own claim.  If you have liability insurance and are concerned you may be sued as a result of the automobile accident, the proper party to contact is your liability insurance carrier.  However, if either you or other members of your family in your automobile are injured, you may have a claim against the driver of the responsible vehicle.

   If you believe another party is liable for your automobile accident, you may need to make some decisions whether you want to hire an attorney.  Examples of when you might want to consider hiring an attorney to represent you include:

                   1.  Either you or someone in your automobile suffered serious injuries necessitating hospitalization with the likelihood the injuries will be permanent.
                    2.   The adverse party denies fault.
                    3.   The accident report, as written by the investigating officer, does not accurately describe the accident and places you at fault.
                    4.   The insurance adjuster representing the adverse party gives you a feeling he or she will not be fair or suggests you were at fault.
                     5.   The adverse party’s insurance adjuster or attorney calls you and wishes to take a oral or written statement from you regarding the accident.
                     6.   You are uncomfortable negotiating a settlement.
                     7.   You want to know your rights.

There may be other benefits in contacting an attorney such as determining if there are other policies available to you which might cover your injuries and damages or the identity of another at fault party.

   Very often the insurance adjuster or the insured’s attorney might talk to you and ask you to tell him what damages you claim.  Damages may be compensatory or punitive.  Compensatory damages include:
                    1.  Medical expenses you incurred as a result of treatment after the accident.

                    2.  Future medical expenses.

                    3.  Pain and suffering.
                    4.  Mental or emotional distress.

                    5.  Lost wages caused by your inability to work during your recovery.
                    6.  Loss of future earning capacity caused by your inability to go back to the job you were performing.
                    7.  Permanent medical impairment.

                    8.  Disfigurement

                    9.  Loss of consortium which is nothing more than an interference with your married life caused by the injury to your spouse.
                    10.  Property damage.

   The one thing you must remember is that you are dealing with the insurance company and its adjuster.  They do this for a living.  They may attempt to intimidate or discourage you from pursuing any legal rights you may have against their client.  Always remember that an insurance company’s number one priority is to limit the amount of money it pays to an injured party.  When you are dealing with the adverse party’s insurance company, that insurance company is not your friend.  That insurance company represents its client whose interest is adverse to your interest.  Your interest should be to obtain the maximum amount of money to put you back in the position you were prior to the accident.

   Obviously, if the damage to your vehicle is minimal and there is no injury to anyone in your automobile, you can probably handle the settlement negotiations on your own.  However, where the lost to you is fairly substantial, then you need to make a determination as to whether you want an attorney who deals with this type of situation everyday to represent you or whether you want to represent yourself.  Should you decide to hire an attorney to represent you in your claim against the adverse driver, your attorney can do a number of things you might not be able to do yourself.  The attorney will be able to assess and understand the legal issues involved in your specific claim:

Are you at fault?
                2.  Is your injury temporary or permanent?

Do you have a serious injury or one which, with treatment, will resolve?

Whether you will be required to pay back medical expenses to your medical insurance carrier?

Who was at fault and caused the accident?

Whether there is additional insurance coverage available other than the at fault party’s insurance?

What are the limits of the at fault party’s insurance?

                8.  What amount of damages would a jury likely award in the event your case went to trial?

Was another party, in addition to the at fault party, responsible for the accident?

               10.    Whether you should accept the settlement offer or go forward with filing a lawsuit? 

   One of the worst things for an unrepresented party to do is give either a written or oral statement to the at fault party’s insurance company.  Very often it has been only one or two days after the accident and your biggest concern is trying to get over your injury.  You may make light of the injury one or two days.  The at fault party’s insurance company may get you to say things you regret.  Your words may come back to haunt you.

   An attorney you hire may be able to take advantage of other insurance policies you may have.  You might be unaware you could recover from those policies.  Examples of such policies are underinsured and uninsured policies you may have under your own automobile insurance coverage.  Such policies could provide you with compensation in the event your injuries exceed the amount of insurance available from the at fault party.  Your attorney may also determine the automobile accident was caused by a third party due to a defective automobile, defect automotive repair or negligent entrustment of an automobile. 

   The main reason to hire an attorney to represent you is because that is what an attorney does for a living.  The attorney is familiar with the litigation process and knows how to interact with insurance adjusters, witnesses, and other lawyers.  If you are not able to settle your case, your attorney can represent you in court.  One of the best reasons for hiring a lawyer to represent you is because you should be more concerned with getting over your injuries and getting back to your usual occupation and daily activities.  Let your lawyer worry about your lawsuit and try to get well.

                                   CROOK LAW 
                         205.879.2490 or
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