I’ve Been In A Car Accident – Now What?

Here are some basic steps to take after an accident.

1. Check If Anyone is Injured

First take care of yourself and other people in the accident. Find our if any parties are injured and if they require emergency assistance. If they do call 911 immediately.

2. Exchange Information

Exchange insurance information with the other drivers and don’t forget to get their names, addresses, phone numbers and emails. Also take a minute to jot down the other vehicles make, model and license plate.

3. File a Report

Contact local law enforcement and let me know about the accident. You will want to file a report and try to obtain a copy of the report and/or at least the officer for the report number.

4. Take Photos

If you have your mobile phone and it has a camera snap some pics of the accident scene. In particular the vehicle involved, the damage done and licence plates of the vehicles.

5. Contact your Insurer or Lawyer

If you were injured (even if it seems like a minor injury) contact a personal injury lawyer and/or your insurance company.

Large Truck Accident Injury Claims vs. Car Accident Injury Claims – What’s the Difference?

Truck accidents and car accidents are both common occurrences on U.S. roads and highways, and often result in injuries and property damage.

However, the factors like more complex regulations and different insurance requirements, large truck crash injury claims can differ greatly from regular car accident injury claims in several key respects.

Heavy Vehicle = Heavy Damage

While large trucks are only responsible for a small percentage of all motor vehicular accidents, the injuries involved can be much more serious in a truck accident case, mainly because of the size and weight of the vehicles involved. A loaded semi-truck can weigh 80,000 pounds or more, while the average car weighs roughly 3,000 pounds. Truck accident victims are more likely to sustain life-changing injuries such as head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death.

Lawrence Flick, a truck accident lawyer with Flick Law Firm in Kansas and Missouri, says “One of the key distinctions between truck accident injury claims and the ordinary auto accident case are the importance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRS) and similar state rules. The FMCSRS and state truck safety rules which follow them impose numerous requirements on trucking companies and truck drivers”.

Insurance Requirements

Differing insurance requirements are one of these areas. Due to the likelihood of severe injuries in a truck accident the FMCSRS require trucking companies to carry insurance with higher liability limits than is typically required of drivers of passenger vehicles. Under these regulations certain defenses that an insurance company might use in a car accident case may not be available in a truck accident case.

The higher policy limits can mean that more money is available to compensate a victim in a truck injury claim. Because the stakes are higher, it can also mean that the insurance company may work harder to avoid paying the claims for value as it has more to lose.

As drivers, we all know, or should know, the basic rules of the road that all vehicles are required to comply with. The FMCSRS go way beyond that, containing rules about everything from driving and work hour limitations, rules concerning driver’s qualifications and special licensing requirements, drug and alcohol testing, inspection, and equipment requirements, just to name a some. Just as an example, there are more than 30 pages of regulations and interpretations just on the subject of special licenses required for drivers of certain large trucks and some passenger carrying vehicles.

Limits on Hours

Some other requirements under the FMCSRS are limits on the number of hours the drivers can be behind the wheel before being required to take a break, requirements that drivers keep logbooks detailing their activities on duty time, driving time and off-duty time and rules about how trucks are maintained and inspected, and even how their cargo should be loaded.

In a truck accident case investigating whether the trucking company in truck driver were complying with the FMCSRS can be important to your case.  If the truck driver and/or the trucking company were not following the rules and cause a truck crash, this may give rise to larger or additional claims against the trucking company for negligence in hiring, supervising or training their employee, as well as other claims. So knowledge of the FMCSRS can be very important to maximizing the value of your truck accident case.

Traffic Light Accidents and Liability Disputes

One of the most common accidents on the road is traffic light accident. Often, one driver argues that the light was red and the other argues that the light was green.

Both drivers claim that they had the right of way and blame each other for the crash.

Witnesses are often the best source for analyzing a traffic accident since they can help demonstrate traffic patterns from their standpoint.

Witnesses Are Often Needed

However, if there were no witnesses to the crash or no objective credible evidence, the dispute becomes one driver’s words against the other driver’s words.

This type of dispute even gets complicated by the fact that the insurance company of each driver believes and advocates for their client, and renders their client’s statement correct unless there’s evidence that can prove otherwise. An insurance company’s investigation should show no bias, but they can save from payouts if their client has no fault for the accident. Drivers tend to have their passengers be witnesses that they had the right of way, but passenger statements are often deemed not credible because they are considered bias.

Determining Legal Liability

Determining which party is legally liable for the property damage and injuries in a traffic light accident can be difficult. Such a case requires analysis as to the condition of all the traffic signals, when the left-turning vehicle arrived, whether the northbound lights changed, whether the green ball light and left turn light changed together, and other aspects that might have contributed to the accident.

Hiring a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who has  experience in handling car accident claims can help determine liability.” advises Ted A. Greve  who practice personal injury law in both Atanta and North Carolina.  Lawyers retain traffic accident reconstruction experts who can reconstruct disputed signal light accident cases. These experts will study the traffic patterns including a traffic count to determine the number of vehicles going straight, turning left, or turning right at an intersection.

Signal Patterns

Signal patterns change over the course of the day to accommodate traffic, and experts are able to track traffic over a predetermined period of time. They will study the intersection to determine how the traffic signals function and will obtain intersection drawings and signal timing data from the appropriate government agency. With the collected data, traffic accident reconstruction experts will inspect the crash site to determine how the traffic patterns affect the traffic signals and how the intersection is controlled.

“A personal injury claim arising from a disputed traffic light accident is a legal matter that should not be handled on your own.” advises Wilkes-Barre, PA injury attorney Todd A. Johns. “Without legal representation, the other party would contend that they had the right of way and you caused the accident, and it can be very difficult for you to prove otherwise” adds Johns. A car accident attorney uses his knowledge, skills, resources, and experience to ensure that you obtain the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries and losses while you focus on recovery.

Preexisting Injuries Aggravated by Car Accidents

The most common concern of individuals with pre-existing injuries that were aggravated by a car accident is whether or not to reveal their pre-existing injuries to the at-fault party’s insurance company or to their own personal injury attorney. In car accident claims, injured victims have an obligation to share their medical condition. In some cases, an individual with a pre-existing injury that was aggravated by a car accident may receive more compensation than a victim who was completely healthy before the accident occurred.

In a case where a pre-existing medical condition is aggravated by a car accident, determining the defendant’s liability for the victim’s injury can be difficult. Under the personal injury law, it would be unfair for the defendant to hold him liable for the victim’s injuries if the injuries were not caused by the defendant’s negligence or wrongful conduct.

The law recognizes that a pre-existing injury can make the victim more likely to sustain additional injury even from a minor traffic accident. This is called the “eggshell plaintiff doctrine” or the “eggshell skull doctrine”. This legal doctrine is based on the principle that the victim’s condition might be so fragile that even the slightest impact may cause substantial injury to the victim. Victims of car accidents must be accepted in the condition they were at the time of the accident.  Regardless of how unforeseeable the injuries might be, the individual responsible for a car accident is legally liable for the victim’s injuries.

In a car accident that involves a victim with a dormant or asymptomatic pre-existing condition, or a condition in which the victim did not experience symptoms before the accident, the party at fault is liable for the injuries for the full amount. This is because the negligence of the defendant aggravated a latent or dormant condition.

Different rules apply in cases where the victim had symptomatic condition prior to the accident. If the victim was already experiencing pain or was already disabled before the car accident and the recent accident aggravated or worsened the condition, the defendant can be liable for the aggravation of the condition but not for the symptomatic, pre-existing condition.

Litigation of a personal injury lawsuit that involves a pre-existing injury can be complicated. This case may even require an expert medical witness to apportion between the pre-existing condition and the aggravation of the condition. An expert medical testimony is necessary for calculating the percentage that the party at-fault may be liable for.

If you have a pre-existing injury and you have been involved in a car accident, it’s important to seek legal representation from a personal injury attorney experienced in handling car accident cases. Your lawyer will help determine the best legal remedies for your situation so you will be fairly compensated for your aggravated pre-existing injury.