There is so much noise out there from personal injury lawyers. “Hire me! I’m tough, smart, aggressive – I’ll hammer the insurance companies, strong arm them, and get you the money you deserve!” Instead of the noise, please let me briefly explain why you need legal help from a personal injury specialist if you are injured in a car crash. First, an experienced personal injury lawyer will know what evidence to gather and what claims are available based upon the facts of the individual case. In addition to the at-fault driver(s), are there other potentially responsible parties or other sources of insurance available? Was the at-fault driver in company vehicle? If so, did the company adequately hire, train and supervise the driver and properly maintain its vehicle? Was there a failure involving the vehicles themselves that could involve a product-liability claim? All of the above and more are issues a Board-Certified personal injury lawyer will know to examine so they can protect your interests and legal rights. However, even in cases that turn out to be fairly straight-forward, you may get taken advantage of if you don’t have an experienced personal injury attorney representing you. Who may try to take advantage of you?
Did you know that insurance companies use computer programs with algorithms that dictate how much they will pay on an injury claim? And one of the biggest drivers is whether you have legal representation. If you are trying to do it yourself the computer is going to de-value your claim automatically. And even if you have a lawyer, the insurance company will often try to slash your medical bills, only considering a fraction of the bills to be “reasonable.” But an experienced personal injury lawyer knows the insurance company’s tricks and can better navigate these types of negotiations.
Look, insurance companies are in the business of taking in money through premium payments and then paying out as little as possible on claims– this is how they make money. And when an insurance company is being unfair and trying to low-ball your claim, there is only one way to force them to pay a fair amount: File a lawsuit. That’s it. And insurance companies know this. They often offer peanuts knowing that a certain number of injured claimants will take it and walk away, not wanting “the hassle of it all.” Having a personal injury specialist can take most of the hassle off your shoulders and can file a lawsuit if that’s what it takes to hold the insurance company accountable.
If you go to an emergency room after a car crash, did you know that hospitals will often choose not to bill your health insurance and instead file a hospital lien in an attempt to collect their full bill from you? And if you follow up with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) after you’ve been injured in a car wreck, have you heard that many PCPs will refuse to see you if they know it’s related to a car accident? Why? Because they don’t want to get involved. They’re afraid they will be subpoenaed to testify in a lawsuit – and they don’t want the headache. So many injured people are in a situation where the hospital is trying to overcharge them and their own doctor won’t see them. Where do you turn? Are there good doctors out there who also aren’t afraid to be an advocate for their patients and will testify if needed? They are out there – and the right personal injury lawyer in your community will know who the good doctors (and bad doctors) are.
Others wanting your money:
If your health insurance did pay for some of your medical bills, or if you had to take short-term disability, they may file notices of subrogation – which means they will want to get reimbursed for any money they paid. Depending on many factors, they may have “first right” to any money you receive – meaning they may have the right to be paid before you get paid. So it’s important to know what rights of reimbursement they have (and don’t have) under the law so you don’t get taken advantage of.
7 Steps to Take Right After an Automobile Collision in Dallas Texas
- Take some deep breaths and stay calm. The main priority after a collision is to keep yourself and others safe. Turn on your hazard lights and do not exit the vehicle unless it’s safe to do so. Also, do not move your vehicle unless safety requires that you do so.
- Call the police. If you know there are injuries, call 911 to report the collision and that you or someone else has been injured. However, please know that due the stress and adrenaline you experience after a crash, the fact that you have suffered an injury may not be immediately obvious. It is very common for it to take hours, days (and sometimes even weeks) for injuries to become apparent. While it’s normal to have some soreness, pain or other symptoms following a crash, often these are expected to go away after a reasonable period of time. It’s when these symptoms don’t go away that may be the first indication that you may have more significant injuries. That’s why it’s important to call the police and when they arrive to insist on a crash investigation and report – you want the crash (and fault for the crash) to be documented in case you later find out that you have injuries that weren’t obvious at the scene of the crash. Remember: At the scene of the crash, just because you’re not having immediate pain doesn’t mean you’re not injured.
- Witness information. Unfortunately, most witnesses don’t stop. If you are able, document license plate numbers of any vehicles around you who would have seen the crash. You can take quick photos of any vehicles around you that will show the license plates so we can later locate any witnesses if necessary. If witnesses do stop, be sure to get their names and contact information. Even when witnesses stop, they often leave before police arrive. We need to be able to find them.
- After finding out if anyone needs immediate medical care, exchange information with other driver(s).
- Name, address and phone number
- Driver’s license number and date of birth
- Insurance company and policy number
- Make, model and license plate number of vehicles involved
- Photograph and document the collision.
- All vehicles involved
- All people involved
- The overall scene of the collision (intersection, traffic lights, etc.)
- If you are injured, get medical treatment as soon as possible. After you visit a doctor, it’s important to comply with prescribed medical treatment or rehabilitation and to continue with any follow-up appointments. Your medical treatment will document the severity and extent of your injuries as well as ensure that you are seeking appropriate attention and care. After all, the most important thing is to ensure that your injuries are treated and that you get better. Nothing is more important than your health.
- Do not give a recorded statement to any insurance company without first seeking legal advice. Insurance companies are looking to limit or deny your claims immediately after an accident. Always consult with an attorney before giving a recorded statement to any insurance company.
Types of Automobile Collisions and What to Do Different
Depending upon the type of collision, there may be different factors to consider when photographing the scene of the crash and the vehicles involved. The type of the crash may also present unique issues that your attorney needs to be taking into consideration.
If everyone follows the rules of the road, head-on collisions will rarely happen. It’s usually when someone is driving on the wrong side of the road that head-on collisions occur. Depending upon the location in the road where the head-on collision occurs, at times it’s obvious which vehicle was driving the wrong way and sometimes it’s not – often head-on crashes happen very close to the center traffic line. That’s why it’s important to photograph debris on the roadway, skid marks and any other evidence in the roadway that may help prove which driver was in the wrong. Another issue that may arise in head-on collisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most common cause of head-on collisions involves driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DWI). In addition to claims against the at-fault DWI driver, there may be claims against a bar or restaurant that may have over-served the drunk driver (known as Dram Shop claims). The Texas Dram Shop Act holds that restaurants, bars, liquor stores, convenience stores or anyone else who sells alcohol to someone who is obviously intoxicated may be sued if the obviously intoxicated person later hurts someone.
Many people wrongly believe that the driver who hits another vehicle from the rear is automatically at fault. While a driver has the legal duty to control their speed and following distance to ensure they’re not colliding with vehicles in front of them, if a vehicle suddenly and unexpectantly cuts into their lane and slams on their brakes, the crash may have been unavoidable. “They cut me off” or “they slammed on their brakes for no reason” are common claims that defendants make in rear-end collisions. That’s why it’s important to photograph the damage to both vehicles. If the damage indicates the impact was straight and square (as opposed to angled or offset) it could help prove that you were clearly established in the lane at the time you were hit.
Due to the forces involved in a roll-over crash, these cases present unique challenges. First, it needs to be determined what caused the vehicle to roll-over during the crash. For a vehicle to roll-over, at some point during the crash-sequence, it must have sideways motion. While this could simply involve the angle of impact of the vehicles, vehicle defects such as a tire blowing out, a wheel falling off, or a brake locking up can also lead to a roll-over. Unfortunately, due to the extreme forces involved in a roll-over crash, these can result in serious injury or death. When catastrophic injury or death occurs, your attorney may need to determine whether your vehicle’s safety systems worked properly (called crashworthiness claims). Some common crashworthiness issues involving rollovers are inadequate roof strength, seatbelt failures and door latch failures. Depending upon the age of your vehicle and the type of injury that occurred in the crash, your attorney may need to hire experts to examine all of these important issues.
In a single-vehicle collision, the passengers in a vehicle driven by a negligent driver may have claims against the driver. In addition, in certain situations, and depending upon the type of auto insurance the passengers themselves had, it may be possible to combine or “stack” insurance coverages to allow for a larger recovery of money for the injured passengers. An experienced personal injury specialist will be able to identify these and other important issues.
A side-impact collision, also known as a T-bone collision, often happens in intersections. And when the intersection is controlled by traffic lights, unless there are eyewitnesses or video of the crash, these cases often involve a red-light swearing match – both drivers claiming that the other had the red light. As a result, these cases can be difficult to prove. Depending upon the facts, sometimes data can be obtained that shows the traffic light sequence, but the data will not show what color the light was at a particular moment in time – it only shows the sequence the lights rotated during a period of time. In addition, side-impact crashes often involve serious injury, as there is less protection between the side of the vehicle where the impact occurs and the occupants of the vehicle.
Keep a Dallas Car Accident Attorney on Speed Dial
We usually don’t try to find a specialist until we need them. Very few people will have an automobile collision attorney’s number handy in case you need to call someone to ask the steps to take after an accident to make sure you are safe and sound. What a lot of people don’t know is that the law has become increasingly specialized and complex, much like medicine. While your family doctor may be great, you wouldn’t want them performing surgery on you. So when looking for a personal injury lawyer to help you, it’s important that you contact a personal injury specialist. This means an attorney who is Board Certified in Personal Injury law. Only lawyers who are Board Certified are recognized by the State Bar of Texas as being specialists in their field. And only about 2% of Texas attorneys are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial law.