If you or someone that you love has been hurt in a Charleston car crash that was caused by another driver, it’s important to know your legal options. In many instances, there are time limits to when you can file a compensation claim.
To learn more about your options, contact the Charleston car accident lawyers at Stewart Bell, PLLC today by calling 304-345-1700. There are no upfront costs and your initial consultation is free of charge.
Our car accident lawyers have been helping injured West Virginians for more than 30 years and work quickly to obtain the just you deserve.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
The actions you take following a motor vehicle accident can greatly improve – or hinder – your chances of a successful outcome. Some points to keep in mind are:
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Not only is this important for personal health reasons, your doctor’s medical report can serve as valuable evidence in your personal injury claim.
Take Pictures and gather Insurance Information
If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and write down the other driver’s insurance information. Photos can prove crucial in determining the cause and extent of the accident.
Report Observations about the other Driver to the Police
Were you hit by a distracted driver? Was the other car swerving? Was the other driver using a cell phone? Any observations you can report to the police may help you in obtaining a successful outcome. In addition, filing a police report will help you in negotiating your settlement, and in keeping the details of your story straight as you have to retell it along the road.
Get Witness Contacts
You may need help to back up your case, and that means witnesses. Make sure you try to get the name and contact information of any witnesses who might have seen what happened.
Call your Insurance Company
Make sure you call your insurance company to report the accident within 24 hours. When you do, stick to the facts and keep it simple. Don’t try to embellish the story or make yourself seem innocent. Just state what happened in a clear and concise way.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer
Too many people make the mistake of accepting the settlement offer from an insurance company. This offer may be far less than what you deserve. A car accident lawyer can help maximize the compensation you receive.
What You Shouldn’t Do after a Car Accident
There are a number of critical mistakes that too many people make after they have an accident. Making these errors can complicate your case and make it much harder to get the compensation you deserve. The first, of these mistakes is apologizing at the scene. No matter how badly you feel about what has happened, never say, “I’m sorry.” The reason for this is that the insurance company will be looking for reasons to get out of paying your case, and you might be surprised at how often they have adjusters at the scene before the police even arrive.
The next thing you shouldn’t ever do is sign or agree to anything without discussing it with your attorney first. Insurance companies, again, will try anything to settle your case for an insultingly low cost and if they convince you to sign, you may be signing away your rights to future compensation.
Neither of these errors are necessarily insurmountable, but both can seriously complicate your case, so always exercise care.
Common Causes of Serious Car Accidents
With more distractions than ever in our cars, drivers are now dividing their attention between the roads and their smart phones, stereos, or other electronic devices. Because of the limitless number of negligent behaviors that can occur, the list of reasons that an auto accident takes place can be endless. There are, however, some recurring patterns of driving behaviors that have been listed as common contributing factors to a crash.
Some of the most typical reasons that auto accidents occur include:
- Disobeying traffic signals, or running stop signs or lights
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Improper lane changes
- Inexperienced drivers
- Texting while driving
- … and many more.
Immediately following a crash, those involved should call 911 and report the situation, then wait for officers to arrive on scene. Depending on the severity of the crash, it may be important to get the at-fault driver’s insurance information at this point, or, if the crash is very bad, the most important thing is to get help for all the drivers involved.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help guide you and your loved one through the process of bringing the negligent driver to justice, and will help take some of the burden off of your shoulders.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
The insurance company can potentially be the biggest nightmare you’ll face. At first, their insurance adjuster will pretend to be your best friend. They’ll show compassion and say they know what you’re going through. They’ll offer you a settlement for your case, which may well be far less than you’ve already spent in medical bills. They’ll claim that it’s the best you’re going to do, and they’ll try their best to get you to just sign off and be done with it.
If you refuse to sign, they will get more aggressive. They might cajole you and go to great lengths to convince you to sign. They will often resort to bullying and threatening. It’s not uncommon for them to claim you’re partially responsible for the accident, that you’re not that badly hurt or even that you’re faking your injury entirely. They will threaten that if you continue to pursue the case you won’t get anything at all.
The thing to remember is that these people are paid to get out of giving you a settlement. They might not even understand your case aside from a glance at a file. They don’t know what you’ve been through. They don’t know the cost of your medical bills. They don’t know how much you’ve lost in terms of compensation, and they certainly don’t understand your pain and suffering.
You can fight back against these people, but it requires help from a knowledgeable car accident lawyer like those at Stewart Bell Injury Lawyers.
Compensation for Your Injuries
You are entitled, if you’re hurt in a car accident, to collect compensation for a wide range of injuries. These can include, among others:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages and potential future compensation
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of comfort and relationships
- Reduced quality of life
- Punitive damages (in the very worst cases)
In order to collect these damages, you’ll need to prove negligence on the part of the other driver. This requires three factors. First, you need to show that the other driver acted irresponsibly, so much so that no reasonable person would do the same. You then have to show that it was this irresponsibility that led to the accident, and finally, that this accident was the cause of your injuries, either directly or indirectly. Demonstrating these factors can require experienced legal representation.