Archives August 2021

Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?

Sharp shards of car glass on the asphalt

Follow these 4 steps: 

  • Always exchange driver information even when in a minor car accident!
  • Be sure to take photos of ALL cars involved in the accident.
  • Get yourself checkout for injuries as soon as possible.
  • If you’re injured, call a car accident laywer.

checklistYes, you should hire a lawyer, even after a minor car accident. Here’s the thing… That question actually has nothing to do with the car accident and more to do with your injuries. If you were injured, then you need to speak to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

I Was in an Accident, Do I Need a Lawyer? – When to Hire a Lawyer After a Car  Accident

You’re sitting at the red light after a long day. You reach down to change the radio station when…BAM! You have been hit by another driver who wasn’t paying attention. You both step out of your cars to assess the damage. You both feel fine and your cars have very minor damage. It’s been a very long day so you decide not to call the police to file a report or exchange any information between the two of you. Hey, do you really need to hire a lawyer after a minor car accident?

Do you really need to make a big fuss about all this? Maybe we can just forget the whole thing and go on about our day. After all, you want to get home, the last thing you need is to wait on the side of the road, inconvenience all these other drivers, and site here frustrated and emotional… so you leave.

That was your first mistake and the biggest mistake you could have made. 

In most states, failing to file a police report after a car accident, even if it’s just a fender bender, is illegal. It becomes a citable offense when you get in your car and drive away. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you were injured or if the vehicles didn’t sustain damage. An accident is still an accident, even if it’s only a minor car accident.

Also, once you leave the scene of a car accident, it becomes so much more difficult to get the facts straight. Even a minor car accident becomes murky. So whether or not you want to hire a lawyer after a minor car accident, consider this your moment right here. You should think about calling the police before leaving the scene.

Aside from the legalities of the issue, you may have just ruined any potential claim you may have against the other driver. Even if there is no damage to your car. Here’s the problem:

Hidden Injuries

Studies have shown that there are several injuries a person can sustain in minor car accidents that don’t show up for days after the incident. You get hit from behind, you’re barely jolted and you feel fine. You have no obvious injury and you would know if you were hurt — wouldn’t you?

Not always. People often think of “injuries” as broken bones, lacerations, and even head trauma. Our minds turn to severe, life-altering conditions. We don’t often consider stained tendons, stretched ligaments, or contusions, but we should.

If your body went forward, your neck snapped back or you moved forward in a sudden manner, you may wake up with severe back pain tomorrow or the next day. The adrenaline following an accident can mask an injury. Most Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers will tell you to see a doctor as soon as possible to ensure you are not suffering from hidden injuries.

If you drive away from the scene and fail to make a report with either the police or your insurance (or both), you will have a difficult time taking your personal injury to court, even if you have a medical professional on your side.

The “Other” Guy

What if you exchanged information with the other driver, shake hands and go about your business without reporting the minor car accident to the police?

Several weeks later, you are summonsed to court because the “other” guy has filed their own claim against you. You know they were at fault and you know that the injuries they are claiming and the property damage they say you caused are exaggerated if not downright false. Remember when you chose to drive away without a report? You’ve now stepped solidly into a “you say, they say” type of situation.

In truth, most of these types of suits won’t get very far. After all, the other guy left the scene, too. But do you really want to deal with the hassle and time it’s going to take to answer the summons, potentially appear for hearings, and argue on your behalf when you know you were in the right? Chances are you have better things to do!

And here’s another great tip for you, “Do not admit fault or reveal policy limits”. That’s a direct quote from the Geico insurance website. Be careful about what you do and say!

What to Do After A Minor Car Accident

Maybe you and the other party didn’t drive away from the minor car accident. Perhaps there was some minor damage to one or both of your vehicles that made you second guess yourself, so you decide to file a police report. You file with your insurance companies and the other party is found to be at fault. Their insurance company offers you a settlement and you take it. It seems the easiest thing to do and will enable you to get your car fixed more quickly.

But wait a minute. The settlement wasn’t enough to fix your car and you think you have an injury, possibly whiplash!

An insurance company is a business and they are out for their bottom line, not your best interests. If you accept an insurance settlement, the paperwork will likely say that you are giving up your right to any future legal action. It’s not unusual for people to believe that an insurance company offers what’s fair — and it’s not unusual for that to be far from the truth.

Even in minor car accidents, you should have a personal injury attorney look at your case before agreeing to any settlement! They can help you get the most compensation possible for your case. That way you will not have to come out of pocket for your car and medical bills.

But don’t move on just yet, remember these 10 things to avoid doing after a car accident:

Car Accident Without Insurance – What's Next? | AAMI
  1. Leaving the Scene of An Accident Without Reporting It To the Police: Just as we mentioned in the notes above, leaving the scene of a minor car accident without reporting it to the police is a major mistake. The Police report will be used in a minor car accident lawsuit to help the judge award the plaintiff the appropriate damages.
  2. Failing To Gather Evidence At the Scene: Take as many pictures as you can, collect as many phone numbers as you can, and ask for as many accounts as you can from people nearby and let your car accident attorney sort through what is valuable and what is not. Simple collect as much evidence as possible while you still can at the scene of the accident.
  3. Admitting Fault: Never admit fault, even if you believe you are at fault for the minor car accident. The fact is, you cannot possibly know who is at fault from your vantage point and you are merely attempting to understand what may have happened to form your perspective. Never admit fault. Instead, let your attorney and the police figure out who may be at fault and how much comparative fault is at play.
  4. Not Seeing a Doctor: You should see a medical professional as soon as you feel as if you have sustained injuries from your accident. If you do not, and you develop any injuries from the minor car accident, it may become difficult to attribute them to the accident and not to some other wear and tear and you may find it even more difficult to be compensated.
  5. Not Taking Advantage of PIP: Remember that Florida requires that you have Personal Injury Protection and that is used to make sure that you are protected in the event of a car accident. Do not feel any obligation to avoid not claiming from this insurance policy if you have been involved in a minor car crash.
  6. Failing to Understand Insurance Companies: Remember that insurance companies are first and foremost a business and they exist to make money and that means they want to collect and hold as much money as possible while paying out as little as possible (in theory). So when you make claims, they will try to settle for less if they can.
  7. Not Reviewing the Police Report: You must review the police report to make sure that the facts contained on the police report are correct and that you agree with them and if you do not agree, do your best to make your voice heard right then and there and get any and all changes made as soon as possible and before signing.
  8.  Taking the First Settlement Check Offered: Just like most negotiations, the first check and the first offer will be the lowest that the insurance company thinks they can offer to satisfy you while also ensuring they are not overpaying in their estimation and saving as much money on the car accident settlement as possible.
  9. Trying to Settle Your Own Case: Though you may think that a minor car accident may not warrant a car accident lawyer, we can confidently say that clients who hire experienced attorneys earn a settlements check that is on average 3X larger than those who do not hire an auto accident attorney.
  10. Not Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer: For all the reasons stated above and more, we believe it’s in your best interests to hire a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Making Sure You Understand Your Legal Rights in a Vehicular Accident

When you are involved in a vehicular accident, it is essential to know your rights so you can best protect your own interests. Often times, a car accident can be a traumatizing experience, leading its victims to act upon emotion. However, it is advised for all parties to remain calm and follow standard post car accident procedures, including exchanging identification, insurance information and license numbers. Being in a vehicular accident may present many overwhelming issues, including property damage and health complications. If you understand your legal rights prior to being involved in an accident, then you have a better chance of handling the situation as a lawyer would advise you to.

Never Apologize

Even though it may be unfair at times, the person who caused the accident isn’t always the person who is legally at fault. Without legal counsel onsite, you should be very careful with your words. Keep your interaction to a minimum. Additionally, apologizing after a car accident may seem polite or kind. However, it will only put you at further risk. By saying that you are “sorry” no matter the context, the other driver could use your apology as an admission of guilt and fault. Even when communicating with your insurance company afterwards, you should never mention that you apologized at any moment when recounting your accident details.

Understanding Fault in A Car Accident

Whoever is found at fault will affect whose insurance will have to pay for vehicle and property damage. The party at fault will also be responsible for personal injuries. For example, in most states, if a driver violates a traffic law, then the driver is mostly responsible for a resulting vehicular accident. However, determining fault isn’t always very obvious. Many states have complex systems used for determining fault. For example, sometimes, both drivers will be held liable as both failed to avoid the accident, hence requiring each driver as well as an insurance provider to accept responsibility and monetary penalties.

Gathering Evidence at the Scene

It is your legal right to build your case by collecting evidence. After a car accident, the last thing on your mind might be to gather evidence at the scene. However, it is essential to your case that you record any comments made by the other drivers and take pictures of both cars as well as the general area that impacted the accident. In addition to contact, license and insurance information, you should also record into your smartphone details of the accident, including the location, description of the road, etc. You should take pictures of the accident scene close up as well as from a distance. Do not forget to capture snapshots of the scene, including traffic signs, crosswalks, etc. All of these details may be needed later on. Moreover, if there were any witnesses, you should retrieve their contact information and record what they saw with your smartphone. You could always wait until a later day to contact the witnesses for their accounts of the accident, but their memory might not be as sharp as time passes. If you are able to record the whole post-accident scene, then that may be also very helpful to your case in the future.

Filing a Police Report

You are entitled to a police report after an accident. If you call the police, they will show up on the scene, interview both drivers and document what they see along with witness statements, etc. Before the police leave, be sure to ask them for their names so you can obtain copies of their reports without much hassle. In the event that you are not comfortable with speaking with a police officer because you are too shaken up from the accident, you can go to the station the following day and file a report. However, the officer will record your initial refusal, which might be used against you in court.

Statute of Limitations

If you live in South Carolina, you should be aware there is a state law that restricts the amount of time that you are allowed to bring a lawsuit to court. Even though the statute of limitations in South Carolina does not affect car insurance claims, insurance companies require claims to be made within a reasonable time after the accident, not exceeding a few weeks. However, this state does have a statute of limitations for a case that could result from a vehicular accident, including car damage, personal injury or wrongful death claims. The law allows you three years to approach the state courts for civil action, starting from the day of the accident. However, in this state, if there was a death as a result of the accident, then the clock starts on the date of the victim’s death. It’s imperative to be mindful of the time because your case could get thrown out of court if you file after the time limit. Unfortunately, car accident lawyers often see this happen to their clients. Ensure that this does not happen to you by prioritizing your claim and seeking legal representation within an appropriate amount of time.

The Right to an Attorney

If you believe that your case will be handled and resolved peacefully through the car insurance claim process, then you will want to file your lawsuit once you have leverage from the insurance company to use during settlement talks. However, this does not mean that you should not speak to an attorney prior to filing a lawsuit. After your accident, contact a local lawyer for a free consultation and review your rights if you have any questions about your timeline for filing a suit or other possible case complications. Once you are ready, you can hire an experienced car accident attorney who can help you throughout the process.

Finding yourself in a car accident is an unfortunate situation, but you can stop your situation from getting worse by hiring the right lawyer to be by your side. If you or someone you know has been injured from a car accident, suffered property damage, lost wages due to the accident, etc., then you should contact a local attorney who specializes in personal injury law who can help. Most lawyers offer a free consultation and only charge you if you win your case. Beforehand, they will discuss what percentage of the settlement would cover their fee. Without the right representation, your chances of obtaining justice may be slim; therefore, it is important to choose your attorney wisely as well as taking the right steps after your car accident.

Top 7 Reasons Why You Need A Car Accident Lawyer

Most car accident victims significantly benefit from retaining a qualified New York or New Jersey car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. Consider the following reasons why it is a good idea to hire an attorney:

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  1. Advice – From the moment you find yourself the victim of a car accident, you will have questions without answers. Whose car insurance policy will cover your medical bills? Who pays for the damage to your vehicle? How can you find a doctor to treat your injuries? Are you entitled to pain and suffering damages? Having an experienced New York or New Jersey car accident attorney on your side provides you with invaluable advice from the moment the accident occurred through the resolution of your case.
  2. Direction – Because New York and New Jersey are no-fault insurance states, a car accident claim could be handled in one of two ways. Accidents that involve only minor injuries are usually handled through the no-fault system, meaning your own car insurance policy compensates you for out-of-pocket losses. Accident victims who suffered “serious injuries” are entitled to pursue additional compensation through a traditional personal injury lawsuit.
  3. Communication – A car accident victim should not discuss the case with anyone without the advice of a car accident lawyer. From the moment you retain the services of an attorney, your lawyer will become your voice and handle all communication with your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company and anyone else involved in the collision.
  4. Investigation— Sometimes an accident reconstruction expert is needed to determine how an accident occurred and who was at fault. A car accident lawyer has the resources and experience required to properly investigate your accident to ensure that you are compensated fully and fairly for your injuries.
  5. Evaluation – How much compensation you are entitled to depend to a large extent on the type and severity of your injuries. Often, the insurance company responsible for compensating a victim will contest the amount of an accident victim’s medical expenses, pain and suffering and other damages. Attorneys understand how to properly evaluate all of the medical documentation and other evidence to ensure that you receive proper compensation.
  6. Negotiation— Most car accident cases settle through pre-trial negotiations. Most accident victims have no experience negotiating a settlement of this type, which could lead to either overvaluation or undervaluation of the claim. This can result in the victim being under-compensated or the case not settling. With an experienced attorney on your side, you can rest assured that you have a skilled negotiator fighting for your interests.
  7. Advocacy— While most car accident cases are settled out of court, some do end up going to trial. If this occurs, you need a lawyer by your side to advocate for you in front of a judge and jury. You can be certain that the insurance companies will have lawyers representing their interests. You need an attorney who is on your side in the courtroom.

Get Help from a Car Accident Lawyer at the Ginarte Law Firm Today

Riverside Car Accident Attorney - Rizio Lipinsky

Put the Ginarte law firm to work for you. With over 150 years of combined experience, our personal injury lawyers have protected the rights of car accident victims in New York and New Jersey. The claim evaluation and consultation are free. We receive compensation only if you win your case.

Contact us for more information.