If you travel by car on a regular basis, you’ll likely be involved in car accidents several times over the course of your life. Car insurers estimate the average person will file an automobile accident claim every 17.9 years and many of those accidents will be minor. However, when a person sustains an injury in one of those accidents, the cost of each claim can skyrocket.
Whether the driver is at fault or not, the period of time immediately following an accident is crucial. It’s important that a motorist take the proper steps to avoid a claim being denied. There is a statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Nevada of two years, so taking quick action is important. Immediately following any car accident, a driver should take the following steps:
- Check for injuries. If you feel as though you might be injured, call for an ambulance.
- If the vehicles are in a safe area, snap photographs of their positions before moving them. If the cars or people involved are in danger of being hit by passing traffic, move the vehicles off the road unless the accident was serious.
- If all parties are okay, call the police. Even if no damage is visible, there may be unseen damage that can cause problems later.
- Turn on hazard lights to warn approaching traffic.
- Take detailed photos of any visible damage.
- Do not admit fault even if the at-fault party is apparent.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver.
- Contact your insurer as soon as possible.
- If you’re still experiencing pain or soreness after a couple of days, see your doctor.
In addition to filing for coverage of medical bills, someone involved in a car accident can ask for compensation for pain and suffering and lost wages. These costs can be difficult to calculate, so personal injury attorneys specialize in helping accident victims understand what they can expect to receive. Since a serious accident can result in a permanent lifestyle change, it’s important for accident victims to get the full amount they are due before the statute of limitations runs out. There are several specialized types of accidents that can dramatically impact an accident victim’s rights.
With the emergence and growing popularity of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, it’s common now for car accidents to involve or even be caused by drivers on their platforms. In 2019, Uber reached a whopping 65 billion dollars in gross bookings (that’s $65,000,000,000 – count ‘em – 9 zeroes). In exchange for tax breaks and more lenient laws around pickups / dropoffs, Uber and Lyft both provide “umbrella” policies that protect several parties when an accident happens. The tricky part is, they won’t ever volunteer this information. You’d have to have an Uber car accident lawyer pursuing a claim on your behalf. Both Uber and Lyft’s uninsured motorist and underinsured motorists coverage provide:
- compensation for bodily injury & property damage to passengers and drivers in Lyft vehicles
- compensation for bodily injury & property damage to their driver’s en route to pick up passengers
- compensation for bodily injury & property damage to their driver’s that are simply logged into their app – even while awaiting a trip request
- compensation for delivery drivers en route to pick or deliver food (UberEATS only)
Many states have laws requiring drivers to carry auto insurance, but that still doesn’t guarantee every driver on the road is insured. When an insured motorist is the victim of an accident that is the fault of an uninsured driver, the experience can be frustrating and expensive. If an insured motorist doesn’t take legal action, his own insurance will likely be forced to pay for vehicle repairs.
When an accident victim is injured, the cost of medical bills can add up to much more than even his own insurance coverage. Even for a driver who has uninsured motorist coverage, medical bills can amount to much higher than the maximums allowed by his policy, with no allowances for lost wages or pain and suffering. Only with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney can many injured motorists recover the compensation necessary to avoid significant personal debt as the result of such an accident.
Hit-and-run accidents can be problematic, especially if the driver fled the scene and remains unknown. If a driver is involved in a hit-and-run accident, it’s important to immediately jot down as much information as possible about the fleeing vehicle, including the license plate number and the vehicle make, model, and color. Witness contact information should also be captured at the scene to corroborate the insured party’s story with his insurer.
In most cases, an insured party’s uninsured motorist coverage will provide coverage for the car and a set amount of medical costs, but injuries can far exceed those maximums. Whether the driver of the other vehicle can be found or not, a personal injury attorney can help a victim navigate the laws specific to his case and state to recommend the best course of action.
While it may seem that it takes two vehicles to have an accident, less than half of all vehicular insurance claims. Drivers are especially susceptible to single-car accidents during dangerous weather, when a car may slide off into a ditch or run head-on into a tree. When a single-vehicle accident occurs, a driver’s comprehensive insurance coverage pays for the damage and injuries up to a certain amount.
In some cases, outside parties are responsible for the accident even when another vehicle wasn’t involved. Improper warning signs during road construction or defective auto parts are just two examples of situations where an injured motorist may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Drunk Driving Accident
When a driver is the victim of a drunk driver, there are several courses of action that can be taken. The driver will be subject to criminal penalties, which may be as simple as fees and probation or as severe as jail time and loss of the ability to drive for a period of time. Repeat violations usually result in an escalation of those penalties. In addition to criminal penalties, an offender can be sued in civil court by the victim, who seeks compensation for vehicular damage and medical bills.
In some cases, the family members of an accident victim seek damages from a drunk driving accident. This happens when the accident resulted in a death and loved ones want to seek retribution for that death. It’s important to note that approximately one-third of all DUI arrests are repeat offenders, and family members often seek to do whatever they can to ensure the driver isn’t allowed to cause an automobile accident again.
Pedestrian accidents are especially prevalent in big cities, where many citizens walk from one point to another. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 4,700 pedestrians were killed in traffic deaths in 2012, with another 76,000 injured. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, injuries can be severe, since the pedestrian is without a vehicle to absorb the impact. Victims can be faced with a lifetime of medical consequences from one accident, so it’s important to be properly compensated before the statute of limitations runs out.
Insurance companies are interested in paying as little as possible on a pedestrian accident claim, leading many victims of such accidents to seek personal injury attorneys. A victim of a pedestrian accident may find himself unable to work for an extended period of time, which adds to the mounting debt from the medical bills.
There are a variety of defects in a vehicle and its parts that could lead to an accident. This includes weak tires, vehicles that easily roll over, and defective vehicle parts that lead to malfunctions while driving. When a driver finds that he is the victim of an accident caused by defective parts, personal injury attorneys can usually help him determine if he’s eligible for compensation from the manufacturer.
Liability in a defective vehicle case often involves multiple people, including the manufacturer and other parties included in the chain of distribution. This can include the retailer who sold the part and the car dealership where the driver purchased the car. Whether the accident was a single-vehicle accident or one involving multiple vehicles, the driver could be eligible for compensation from the parts manufacture and its associated entities that would cover all damages that occurred as a result.
Seat Belt Law Violations
In most states, seatbelts are required to be worn at all times when operating a motor vehicle. When a driver is the victim of an accident where he was injured, he may assume this will cost him in negotiations. The insurance adjustor may try to claim “contributory negligence” on the part of the driver, which means that negligently not wearing his seatbelt contributed to the injuries. However, the victim can easily claim that without the action that caused the accident in the first place, he wouldn’t have sustained injuries at all.
A personal injury lawyer can help an injured accident victim understand the different arguments that will be brought up during the negotiation process. By knowing the law in the area and understanding how to bring the argument back to the original cause of the accident, a personal injury attorney can give an accident victim the best settlement to cover his injuries and damages.
When attempting to receive restitution for injuries sustained in a car accident, a personal injury attorney will work to get some or all of the following for a victim:
- Medical bills
- Earning capacity
- Lost income
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
- Loss of use of property
By seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney, an accident victim can prepare for many years of lost income and medical bills, as well as gaining reimbursement for property damage. With many insurance companies paying the minimum required to cover property damage and medical bills, often a personal injury attorney is required to adequately represent someone who has been injured in a motor vehicle accident.