The legalities that govern liability and insurance claims with regards to automotive accidents are complex, and drivers who are injured can start to immediately build or destroy a strong case in the moments following the accident. There are a number of mistakes most drivers who are unprepared engage in that compromise their ability to seek fair compensation for expenses and for their physical lost post-accident. That is why having appropriate specialized legal counseling is so critical.
We’re going to talk about the prevalence of moderate to severe car accidents and some of the legal considerations regarding building a case for your compensation. We are also going to provide some tips and resources to prepare yourself in the event that you do have a life altering automobile accident, and what to expect as a legal outcome with the appropriate next steps.
A car accident can literally change your life in a moment. There are a number of ways to protect and prepare yourself should it ever happen to you.
Just the Facts: Car Accidents Annually in the USA
How often do serious car accidents occur in the United States of America? Did you know that there is one car accident every ten seconds in the United States alone according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The good news is that the fatality rates of automotive accidents are slowly declining and that is a nod to increased driver awareness and education, increased penalties for reckless driving and speeding fines as well as much improved motor vehicle safety features such as air bags and side impact technology. In all opinions however there are still too many car accidents in the United States every year, and the amount of injury and personal loss that they create is catastrophic.
According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, auto-related deaths in the United States cost on overage $41 billion dollars per year in loss and expenses. More than 30,000 people are killed every year in the US from car crashes and the losses per State were reported as:
1. California $4.16 billion
2. Texas $3.50 billion
3. Florida $3.16 billion
4. Georgia $1.55 billion
5. Pennsylvania $1.52 billion
6. North Carolina $1.50 billion
7. New York $1.33 billion
8. Illinois $1.32 billion
9. Ohio $1.23 billion
10. Tennessee $1.15 billion
The States with the lowest losses due to motor vehicle accidents were Vermont, Alaska, Rhode Island, Delaware and North Dakota. For more information visit the CDC website for statistics and discussion. What is important to realize is that serious motor vehicle accidents happen frequently, and the probability of one happening to you is higher than you might estimate. How are you prepared or informed about your rights when it comes to being the victim of a motor vehicle accident?
The Rights of the Injured in Motor Vehicle Accidents
Whether you are a driver or a passenger involved in a motor vehicle accident, you have rights that protect you from undue expense or economic loss due to an accident where you were not at fault. Litigation for car accident claims centers around providing for the economic expense of medical needs (initial treatment of injuries) and long term needs such as rehabilitation therapy costs, and long term disability expenses. The amount of compensation that an accident victim can receive may also include the cost of employment retraining should injuries sustained in the accident prevent them from returning to their pre-injury duties of employment, which is frequently the case with neck, back and spinal injuries.
The law provides that if you were not at fault, insurers must compensate you also for pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of productivity (or time away from work while convalescing) and other expenses which are determined on a case by case basis.
What to Do Immediately After a Motor Vehicle Accident
The first steps you take following your motor vehicle accident can either support a successful compensation case or become a detriment to one. The onus of proof is on the victim to collect additional data, information and take appropriate actions which include:
1. Recording the names of all witnesses at the scene
2. Recording the details of the accident immediately including vehicles, road conditions, intoxication of other drivers or any other impairments or considerations that may point to negligence of the at-fault driver
3. Seeking medical evaluation immediately after the accident to document any injuries, lacerations, discomfort or dizziness, memory issues or other conditions that may point to a serious injury
4. Take photographs of the accident (many people use their Smartphone to document at the scene) to support your case and the details you are providing as part of your claim
It is important to remember that functioning as your own accident scene investigator is critical to supporting the official police report that is provided. Building a solid case involves providing adequate evidence is key.
Why You Need an Attorney
While we’d like to assume that our own insurance company would have our best interests at heart (after all we are their monthly customer and spend thousands of dollars a year on premiums) the truth is that insurance providers will seek loopholes that help to diminish the amount of reparation that they have to pay to accident victims. They are a business too, so it is important to speak with an auto accident attorney before signing any documents or providing any supplementary statements to the insurance provider in order to insure that the details and circumstances are being provided in a complete way. Consult an attorney to ensure that your legal rights and best interests are served as you recuperate from your accident, and move forward to full post-injury recovery.
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