Let’s start by saying we hope you never need to hire an attorney. We hope you never end up in a car wreck, but the unfortunate reality is car accidents are a fact of life. Whether you are at fault or not, car accidents are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, over 5,200,000 million collisions happened over the course of year (2020). After working with a lot of first time personal injury clients who maybe waited too long to call an attorney or made a misstep before contacting us, we often hear the comment, ‘I wish I knew this before getting in a car wreck…’ Here is our advice to those who have yet to be in an accident, based on what our clients wished they knew.
Don’t Trust the At Fault Insurance Company
The number one thing our clients wish they knew before getting into a wreck was to not trust the at-fault insurance company. The at-fault insurance company is the company that represents the at-fault driver. The at-fault insurance company’s interest is not aligned with yours. Do not trust them when they say things like, ‘hey, we’ll take care of you,’ or ‘send us your bills and we will pay them.’ After sending them your medical bills, they will likely come back and argue the bills are too high. Insurance companies will say they only need to pay what is “reasonable and necessary,” so they can always argue the treatment you received or the amount you paid was not reasonable or necessary.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Seek Treatment When You’re Hurt
If and when you are involved in an auto accident, do not wait too long to seek medical treatment. Insurance companies will argue that gaps in seeking and receiving treatment make it look like you were not really injured or that your injuries were so minor that you didn’t need treatment. The reality is, you might feel fine at first but after a couple of days, symptoms of your injuries start to occur. We have also seen clients waiting to seek medical treatment in hopes that their injuries will get better on their own with time. If you wait too long before seeking treatment or don’t follow your treatment plan according to your medical providers’ instructions, this can hurt your personal injury case.
Make Sure Your Car is Worth More Than What You Owe — Gap Coverage Insurance
Sometimes the market is what it is and this is not always something you can avoid, but if possible, owing less on your car than what it is worth is ideal. If you are in an accident and your vehicle is totaled, the insurance company is only required to pay you the “fair market value” of your car. So for instance, if you can sell your car for $20,000 but you owe $30,000 on it, the insured only has to pay $20,000 for that vehicle. This is where gap coverage comes in handy. If you suspect you could ever be in a situation where you owe more than your car is worth, gap coverage on an insurance policy will cover the difference between what your car is worth and what was owed on it before being totaled.
Make Sure You Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage is essential in the event you are hit by someone with no insurance or not enough insurance to cover the accident. You can learn more about uninsured motorist coverage here.
“Full Coverage” is Rarely Full Coverage
We often hear first time clients say things like, ‘Don’t worry, I have full coverage,” only to find out they have minimum limits coverage. Some insurance agents will tell you they’ll get you “full coverage,” simply meaning you’re fully covered to legally drive in your state. Fully covered to drive does not mean you are adequately protected if you cause a wreck and cause bad damages or if somebody hits you and causes bad damages. Don’t just settle for “full coverage”. Really look into your policy and find out what kind of coverage is written into your policy and whether the amounts of coverage provide sufficient protection for your personal situation.
If You’re Able, Gather Information at the Scene
Pictures, video, witness names and contact information from the scene can be instrumental in your personal injury claim after a car wreck. It is amazing how several people can be involved in the same event and have different recollections of what happened. Don’t always rely on the investigating police officer to record names and contact information of witnesses. The officer might include information from witnesses but not always record their contact information for use later. Any documentation you are able to collect at the scene will be helpful in winning your case later on down the road.
Hire a Good Personal Injury Attorney
If you get into an accident, make sure to hire a good personal injury attorney. Do your research. Examine websites, read reviews, ask friends and family that have used an attorney before, and set up a free consultation to meet with potential attorneys to feel them out. You want to hire the best attorney for you and your case.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are looking for a personal injury attorney, schedule a free consultation with us today!