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Auto Accident Cases

The following is an excerpt from an interview with a Maryland attorney.

What should someone do if they have been injured in an auto accident?

The very first thing that someone should do is report the accident. They should call the police so that an officer can come to the scene, they are able to relay their version of the accident, and a police report is made. It is important to have a record of the accident. Also, I recommend taking pictures of any damage to their vehicle and any damage to other vehicles involved in the accident. They should try to get as much information from the other people involved in the accident as possible, such as license plate numbers, motor vehicle registrations, addresses, names, and the owner of the car, if possible. Taking pictures of the scene of the accident and writing down as much information as possible are both very important. This early collection of information will allow the person to paint a clear picture of what happened and who was at fault.

If the person is feeling any pain at all, they should not hesitate to go to a doctor. The longer they wait to see a doctor following an accident, the more unlikely it is that an insurance company will cover their medical bills. If they see a doctor soon after the accident, it will be obvious to even the most suspicious person that the accident involved injuries to them. They should not let someone take a recorded or written statement from them. They should also always go through their own insurance company to handle repairs if they have damage to their vehicle.

What are common mistakes that individuals make after car accidents?

The most common mistakes are doing nothing, postponing any kind of medical treatment, and postponing reporting the accident to the insurance company. Trying to tough it out is a very big mistake because if someone is hurt in an accident, they have insurance that will cover medical bills or time off from work. The more a person delays, the harder it becomes to prove that their injuries were related to that accident, especially if there is no documentation, such as a police report. It is their word against someone else’s. It is not good to be in a situation where they have to fight to prove that they were in an accident or that they had an injury.

What is the process for pursuing compensation for injuries suffered in an accident?

It varies from case to case and it is based upon the circumstances of the accident, meaning what type of accident it is and what type of injuries the person sustained. If they have a hard type proving liability, then they won’t even get to damages. For example, if someone rear ends a car that is stopped at a light, then barring any unforeseen circumstances, liability should be easy to determine. One car was standing still, while someone else’s car ran into it from behind. However, if there is an intersection with a green light and one car goes through it, and another car tries to beat a yellow light so they’re both in the intersection at the same time, it becomes one person’s word against another’s. If no one calls the police and both people say they had the green light, then there will be a much harder fight with the insurance company and also a lower chance of winning the case. It also depends on what type of injuries the person has. If someone has extensive injuries, they can expect a larger settlement and the case will likely settle before trial.

What is the role of a personal injury attorney in auto accident cases?

An attorney’s role is to advise, counsel, and walk their client through the process.  All the actual decisions are made by the client, so it is up to them to decide what they want to do. They decide whether they want to pursue a lawsuit. They can stop at any time they want and they can take whatever offer they want. They can also reject an offer if they want to pursue a trial. Ultimately, it is not the attorney’s decision whether or not to proceed with a case; it is the client’s. For some people, having their day in court is more important than anything else because they have been wronged and they want to exact some measure of retribution against the person that has wronged them. An attorney’s role is to be a coach, an adviser, a counselor, a guide, a navigator, and someone who can make the process easier for the client.

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*Note: This information does not apply to other jurisdictions. If you are seeking information on car accidents in Long Beach, California, please visit this page on Ehline’s website.

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