Auto and Truck Collisions FAQs
- What to Do if You're in an Auto Accident - As Soon As an Accident Happens
- What to Do If You're in an Auto Accident - At the Scene of the Accident
- What to Do if You're in an Auto Accident - Immediately After the Accident
- What to Do If You're in an Auto Accident - How Can We Help You?
- Stop your car. Failure to stop can result in serious criminal consequences.
- If possible, move your car so it doesn’t block traffic.
- Warn approaching traffic with flares and/or your car’s flashers.
- Call the police. If anyone is injured, call for an ambulance.
- Do not make any statements about who caused the accident.
- Note carefully any statements made by other people involved in the accident.
- Get the following information from the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident:
- Driver’s license. Get the driver’s birth date, license number and the state of issue.
- Vehicle make, model, year, and tag number. Ask to see the registration card to confirm this important information.
- Name, address and phone numbers (home and work) of the driver.
- Name, address and phone numbers (home and work) of the owner of the vehicle.
- The insurance Policy Number, the name of the insurance company, and the agent’s name, address, and phone number.
- Get the names, addresses, and home and work phone numbers of anyone who saw any part of the accident (witnesses) or came on the scene afterwards.
- Tell the police officer that you want a written report of the accident. (Sometimes, if no one appears to be immediately injured, the police will not prepare a report.)
- Take down the officer’s name, badge number and department. If injured, or if you aren’t sure if you are OK, go immediately by ambulance or car to a hospital emergency room.
Due to the shock of the collision, you may not realize how badly you are hurt. If you are unsure, be on the safe side and go to the hospital or see your doctor right away. DO NOT DELAY! You may not be aware of the full extent of soft tissue injury until days or weeks after the accident. You should have a doctor familiar with car accident injuries examine you promptly. Seeing a doctor immediately is very important in getting fair compensation for your personal injury.
- Call your attorney! The sooner your attorney is brought into the matter, the better he or she can advise you and protect your rights. Your attorney will help you process your medical bills, work with the insurance companies and help you get a fair recovery for your injuries.
- Describe What Happened–Write out a detailed description of the accident, including location, time of day, weather conditions, description of the roadway, speed limit, traffic lights, stop signs, etc. The sooner you do this, the more precise your recollection will be.
- Talk To No One–You should not talk to anyone about your collision except one of the lawyers or investigators in your lawyer’s office. You should always require some identification so that you are sure to whom you are speaking. You should not even talk to your own insurance company without notifying your lawyer first.
- Traffic Offenses–Never plead guilty to any traffic offenses or pay any tickets in connection with the collision without speaking with your lawyer first. If you receive a ticket, call your lawyer immediately, and he or she will see that someone represents or advises you.
- Witnesses–Give your lawyer immediately the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all witnesses to the collision and people who came on the scene after the collision.
- Photographs– Take pictures of any severe bodily injuries and damage to your car immediately. This will vividly record what happened. Send your lawyer the negatives and copies of prints of any photographs you have pertaining to your case. Helpful photographs include those which show damage to your vehicle, shots of the accident scene and pictures of your injuries. Car Repair–If your car has not been repaired, do not do so until you speak with your lawyer-he or she may want to take pictures or have the car inspected. If it has been repaired, supply your lawyer with copies of all estimates and bills.
- Your Doctor–You should follow as precisely as possible the advice and course of treatment recommended by your doctor or other health care providers. Do not minimize and do not exaggerate your ailments to your doctor or health care provider, as he or she needs to know the true extent of your problems to best know how to treat you. If you see any additional doctors or health care providers, be sure to immediately let your attorney know their names, addresses and telephone numbers.
- Record of Complaints–Please keep a daily or weekly record or diary of your condition and progress. Record how you feel on a day-to-day basis and how your life is affected by your injuries. This can be very helpful in dealing with the insurance company and if a trial is necessary. Again, do not minimize or exaggerate your problems; write down exactly how you are feeling.
- Wages And Earnings Lost–Please keep an accurate record of all time lost from work because of your injuries, including time off to visit doctors and therapists. Please have your employer send your lawyer written confirmation of this and the amount of wages represented by this time lost. Your lawyer need this information even if you are compensated for your lost pay through sick leave or vacation time. (Note: Some states do not allow recovery for lost time if you received sick leave or vacation time.)
- Medical Bills–Keep copies of all your medical, hospital and drug bills, and send the original bills to your lawyer. You should also keep records of any other expenses you have in connection with your accident, such as the hiring of extra help and mileage or taxi fare for visits to doctors. All your expenses should be paid by check or you should get a receipt. If you have health or medical insurance to cover such bills, or if this is a Worker’s Compensation case, please speak with your lawyer before submitting bills for payment. If you can pay the amount not covered by insurance, don’t not pay because of the case, but, again, speak with your lawyer first.
- Questions–Your lawyer will probably not contact you on a set schedule but will contact you from time to time when necessary. That you do not hear from him or her is not an indication that they are not working on your file–a great deal of work is done between the insurance company and the lawyers, and the parties are not directly involved. We can help you get a fair recovery for personal injuries suffered in automobile collisions, slip and falls, medical malpractice and products liability matters.
When involved in an accident, your first step is to contact our office at (601) 981-2800. Our first step will be to obtain the police report, or other incident reports, concerning your case. We will also contact the defendant and/or insurance carrier to put them on notice of our representation of you. If they contact you directly, please do not speak to them, but refer them to us. We will also secure property damage estimates and appraisals on your vehicle, if applicable.
After this initial work-up, we will also obtain copies of all of your medical bills and records. We will advance costs on your behalf, but you remain ultimately responsible for all costs advanced, and are legally obligated to reimburse us irrespective of the outcome of your case.
Generally, we do not send out a demand letter on your case seeking settlement until you have completed all medical treatment, and we have a chance to ascertain your disability and prognosis from your treating physician. We also must obtain lost wage verifications from your employer(s), if you have a lost income claim. In this regard, you will be asked to sign a number of forms and documents to give us authorization to obtain necessary records on your behalf. We will also require a copy of the declaration page of your automobile insurance policy at the time you provide the executed forms and documents referred to above. It is in your best interest to cooperate with your doctors and keep all medical appointments. Please forward us all records that you obtain, or come into possession of, with respect to your claim as they occur. Please do not speak to the insurance company or its representatives during the pendency of the claim, and be aware that any statements you make adverse to your claim may find their way into your medical records, to your detriment. However, be truthful and honest to your health care providers at all times.
After you have completed treatment, we will have a demand conference, in which we determine an initial demand amount, and then we will send out a demand letter reflecting that amount. The initial demand amount will exceed the probable settlement value of the claim, as negotiations will be necessary, in all likelihood, to resolve your claim once the insurance adjuster reviews the demand package.
We will keep you advised of all developments and give you our best professional advice, but the ultimate decision for the settlement of your claim will be yours. Generally, we like to communicate with our clients approximately once a month to six weeks, during the pendency of their claim, to discuss the progress of their claim. We will also endeavor to send you copies of all important correspondence necessary to keep you advised about the status of your case.
After the demand letter is prepared, we will engage in settlement negotiations with the insurance company. It usually takes the insurance company approximately one month to evaluate the claim after the demand letter has been submitted. Once again, we will keep you advised about all offers and counter offers, and give you our opinions, but you will make the ultimate decision.
If your case settles before a lawsuit is filed, this is often in your best interests, since it resolves the matter more quickly and without the out-of-pocket costs of litigation. Sometimes, there are health care provider liens on your settlement amount which must be paid directly by the law firm, from its trust account. On other occasions, you will be responsible for the payment of the medical bills yourself. We will provide you with a detailed and itemized distribution statement at the time of your settlement, showing all disbursements, including the payment of any liens, if applicable. We can also sometimes assist in referring you to competent doctors to assist you, but the decisions for the choice of health care providers is ultimately your responsibility. Some of the doctors will work on a lien and await payment until the conclusion of your case, but you remain ultimately legally responsible for their bill irrespective of the outcome of your case. Sometimes, we can negotiate bill reductions with the health care providers, but no guarantees can be made in this regard in advance.
If your case does not settle, then litigation can be considered. The firm reserves the right to withdraw at the conclusion of prelitigation settlement negotiations, if it does not believe that litigation would be profitable or in your best interests. If any withdrawals are made, every effort will be made to withdraw in such a manner so as to protect your rights, and we will fully cooperate with any attorney you might select, to the best of our ability. If the case proceeds to litigation, there are various court costs, such as filing fees, service of process fees, court reporter fees, etc., which are incidental to the litigation and which you may be asked to bear.
You should be aware that it can take months, and sometimes years, to resolve a personal injury claim. No specific guarantees can be made concerning the outcome of your case. Your case may not be successful, in which event you may still be liable for out-of-pocket costs. We must have full disclosure of all relevant information concerning your case in our accident questionnaire, in order to properly represent you, and any omissions from a full disclosure in the accident questionnaire could damage your case.