August 13, 2022

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Navigating Legal Needs Following an Automobile Accident | Morris James LLP

Unfortunately, a number of car accidents occur every day throughout the country. Whether it’s a fender bender on the highway caused by someone who was texting on their phone, or a collision resulting from someone speeding through a red light at a busy intersection, car accidents are an all-too-common occurrence. 

 

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), a nonprofit that is dedicated to improving safety on the roadways:

  • 4.4 million individuals are injured and need medical attention every year in the United States;
  • more than 38,000 people die every year on U.S. roadways; and
  • automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for individuals aged 1 to 54. 

A car accident can disrupt a person’s life in many ways. They may need to seek medical attention and go through weeks of treatment. They may have to figure out what to do about their job if they are unable to work. On top of this, they will need to take care of their vehicle, whether that involves taking it to the shop to get it fixed or getting a new car altogether. There is all of the work involved with dealing with insurance companies and gathering necessary documents. And then there are individuals who may want to file a lawsuit. 

For those who are involved in a car accident, there are many steps that need to be taken—especially if they are dealing with another party that was uninsured at the time of the collision. Following a motor vehicle accident, it can be quite helpful for an injured party to work with an experienced Delaware car accident attorney who can help navigate each and every step of their matter so they can fully understand what they need to do and what they may be able to recover.

What to Do When You are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

When someone is involved in a car accident, they should contact the authorities and seek medical attention for their injuries immediately. 

  • Seek medical attention: By visiting a doctor’s office or a hospital soon after the crash, the injured party creates crucial documentation of their injuries which can be used later on in a settlement with the offending party’s insurance company or in a trial. 
  • Document: Following the accident, the injured party should document and save everything they can related to the crash. This means saving all medical bills, correspondence, taking photos of their injuries, taking video—anything that can potentially help with their case down the road.
  • Contact local authorities: Contacting the local authorities is important because an accident report can play a key role in an injury settlement with an insurance company or during the course of legal proceedings. This report provides a crucial record of all of the necessary details surrounding a motor vehicle crash, listing everything from the time and day of the crash to who was involved to where it happened. 
  • Gather eyewitness information: Another step an injured party could take is to gather contact information for eyewitnesses who could provide key testimony that strengthens their case. Perhaps a pedestrian could attest that the other party went through a red light, or maybe someone who was out walking their dog saw the other car speeding down the road. Whatever the case may be, eyewitness testimony can add another layer to a case and provide significant value.
  • Return to scene to document: If an individual is not able to do so at the time of the accident, they may want to return to the scene later to take photos and videos of the area, whether they are documenting tire tracks on the road that may indicate the other party was speeding to a broken telephone pole that could show the angle their vehicle was hit. 
  • Contact their insurance company: Finally, the injured person should contact their insurance company as quickly as possible in order to report the incident. When they contact their insurance provider, they should find out as much as they can about their own insurance policy. It is important to note that in Delaware individuals are required to carry their own personal injury protection insurance in order to cover injury-related expenses that may arise due to an accident.

What Can I Recover After a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Following a motor vehicle accident, a party may be able to recover for their losses and injuries in a number of ways. When someone is involved in a car crash, seeking the counsel of an experienced car accident lawyer can go a long way toward recovering the most value possible. 

After an accident, a party can seek to recover through both their own insurance company and through the insurance company of the offending driver(s). The party will need to start the claims process through their own carrier, which involves submitting all necessary information and documentation involving the accident, from bills to the accident report. As previously noted, having additional documentation such as photos of the crash site can make quite an impact when bolstering the strength of a claim and showing fault. 

A party can also seek to recover through the opposing driver’s insurance company. Again, documentation—whether it is pictures of injuries following the accident or doctor’s records, or video footage that shows a car running a red light—can have a significant impact. When working with the other party’s insurance carrier, an individual or their attorney will provide all requested documentation and ultimately make a demand letter asking for an amount that takes into consideration a number of factors, such as lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, and any other injuries. It is almost always a good idea to not take the first offer presented by an insurance company. A counter-offer should be made so that an injured individual can potentially get the highest value possible for their claims.

In addition to negotiating with insurance companies, a party can also seek to take their matter into the legal system. Working with an experienced Delaware accident attorney can be especially helpful if someone elects to take this route, as they can provide tailored counsel to help navigate each and every step of the legal process. 

When pursuing a lawsuit, an individual can recover for numerous aspects related to their accident, including:

  • medical bills that resulted from the accident, including physical therapy, prescriptions, and surgeries;
  • future medical costs that they may have to incur as a result of the accident;
  • lost wages if they missed work as a result of the accident; 
  • future lost earning if their injury will prevent them from working in the future;
  • compensation for pain and suffering; and 
  • compensation for loss of enjoyment of their life as well.

What If The Other Party is Not Insured?

Far too many times, the driver who caused the crash does not have automobile insurance. So what happens in this unfortunate scenario? In addition to all the steps listed above (seeking medical attention, document, contacting local authorities, etc) the injured party should contact their own insurance company to find out if their policy has coverage for uninsured motorists. 

For uninsured motorist coverage in Delaware, the minimum amount offered is $25,000 per person and $50,000 for the accident. Overall, though it is not mandatory to do so, it is always a good idea to get uninsured motorist coverage in case this scenario ever arises. This type of coverage not only includes vehicle damage, but it also includes coverage for injuries. 

Ultimately, when someone is involved in a car accident, contacting an attorney who can understand the ins and outs of the case and leverage their professional experience can make a huge difference when it comes to getting the compensation for their injuries that they deserve.