Even as the temperature cools to below-freezing levels, tempers can still flare hot in the midst of an automobile accident. And while you may not think you’ll ever need to get a lawyer involved in your accident or insurance claim, chances are your car accident will have much deeper implications than you originally believed. If you do, however, decide to enlist the help of a Utah personal injury attorney, here are five questions he or she will likely ask about your particular case:
1. Did you contact the police?
Often, a person’s first reaction to a sudden car accident is panic, fear, or anger. This can cause motorists to flee the scene of an accident, or even make the situation worse by causing an altercation after the accident is over. Leaving the scene of the accident can make you look suspicious and could result in heavy fines or other punishments. Additionally, focusing your aggression on the other driver can turn an already unsafe situation into an outright dangerous one, and can have lasting consequences.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accident, one of the most important things you can do is to call the police. A police office will collect facts from the case, eye-witness statements, as well as information from those involved, and file these in an official police report. Police officers will also be able to safely direct traffic around and away from the scene of the accident, and if necessary, get in touch with a tow-truck or emergency personnel.
2. Did you take pictures?
In spite of the police officer’s best intentions, sometimes, certain evidence that is important to your case or future insurance claim can be missed or even disregarded. Failure to document damages to your car or to yourself can create difficulty when attempting to build your case or claim; visible signs of physical damage will fade over time, and any claim you had for damages will likely fade with them.
While you are waiting for the police officer to arrive, be sure to take pictures of whatever damage was sustained in the accident. This can be damage to the car, the surrounding area, or even your own person. You should also collect names and phone numbers of witnesses to help fortify your case. Your Utah personal injury attorney can use any information you collect as part of your case or potential insurance claim.
3. Has the insurance adjuster tried contacting you?
Car accidents, no matter how large or small, will almost always involve an insurance claim of some sort. Unfortunately, your best interests are rarely in the insurance company’s mind; insurance companies make their money by collecting premiums and employing clever insurance adjusters that work to excuse the company from having to pay out on insurance claims, like yours. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask you questions in a way that gives that appears that you were at fault in the accident. Speaking to an adjuster without legal counsel can be a costly mistake, and leave you without any compensation for your damages.
An experienced Utah personal injury attorney understands the motivations of most insurance claim adjusters, and will keep your best interests in mind. If you are contacted by a claim adjuster, you can preserve the strength of your claim by referring the adjuster to your attorney. This will ensure that you are not giving a statement that might jeopardize your claim.
4. Were you hurt at all?
In spite of all the safety features and careful driving habits that can protect motorists from serious harm, injury in a car accident is not always avoidable—and sometimes, not even detectable. Some car accidents happens so quickly, that even your body doesn’t quite know what has happened. Other accidents can seem so minor that it can be easy to disregard most superficial injuries. Many times, you may leave an accident thinking you are completely unscathed, only to find aches, pains, and bruises manifest themselves a few days later.
Even if you don’t think you or anyone in your car has been injured during the accident, your attorney will likely advise you to go in for a medical checkup. Injuries—particularly back and neck injuries common to car accidents—can be difficult to repair if not detected immediately and can have a chronic impact on your life. Failure to include these injuries in your claim can also make receiving compensation for them extremely difficult.
5. Has this accident affected your ability to do your job or perform household duties?
An automobile accident can affect more than just your insurance rates; it can also affect your everyday life. If your car has sustained significant damage can make daily transportation a major issue. Additionally, any injuries you’ve endured that require you to stay home from work or prevent you from performing household duties can be a costly disruption to your daily routine.
Working with an experienced Utah personal injury attorney, like what you would find at Anderson & Rogers, will help you receive the compensation you need to carry on with your everyday life. This can include working with the insurance company to provide you with a rental or replacement car, compensation for lost wages and household services, and the payment of medical bills.
Drivers are often hesitant to enlist the help of an attorney in their car accident for fear that they will have to bring a lawsuit against another driver; however, this is usually not the case. By involving an attorney in your car accident, you are protecting yourself against being taken advantage of insurance companies, auto-body shops, hospitals, and even law enforcement. Contact an attorney immediately after your accident, and be prepared to answer these questions as you build your case.