Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic event, one that can leave you feeling confused, uncertain, and even scared. Especially if you’ve never been in an auto accident, you may have lots of questions about what to do next and what legal processes may be involved.
Not to worry: Peters Law Firm has more than 100 years of combined industry experience, answering many client questions along the way. Our knowledgeable car crash attorneys have compiled a list of some of the most common questions we receive to help you better understand the legal journey ahead.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident in the Council Bluffs region, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with our car accident lawyers today!
9 Questions Clients Commonly Ask Our Car Crash Attorneys
Should I file a claim?
Following a car accident, it’s imperative that you exchange insurance information with the at-fault driver. This is done so that you can file a claim with their insurance provider so they can cover the cost of your medical bills. When another driver causes an accident that leaves you injured, you should never be forced to pay out of pocket for any medical expenses you incur.
It’s important to note that not all injuries sustained during an auto accident are immediately apparent or severe in nature. However, over time, new symptoms may arise, which may lead to further expenses down the road. No matter how minor your injury seems, it’s crucial that you obtain the information necessary for filing a claim to prevent paying out of pocket for expensive treatments. From there, it’s strongly recommended that you reach out to a car accident attorney to find out what your options may be.
Can I afford an attorney?
Many clients hesitate to reach out to an attorney at first for fear that they cannot afford the cost. While there may be upfront costs associated with your legal consultations, many personal injury attorneys operate on contingency. This means that lawyers are paid only if and when compensation is recovered during your case. It’s important to understand that not all personal injury lawyers operate in this manner, so be sure to ask plenty of questions about the costs associated with your case when meeting with your attorney for the first time.
Can I sue the other driver?
In most instances, car accident cases are settled outside of the courtroom through insurance claims. However, insurance companies may issue a claim denial to injured parties. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for the injured party to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to receive the compensation they’re owed. If this is the case, it’s imperative that you have a car accident attorney by your side who has prior litigation experience in the courtroom. An attorney that isn’t prepared to go to court can leave you stuck accepting a low-ball settlement or no settlement at all.
What do I tell the insurance company?
After you submit a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, the company may reach out to you to offer a settlement. Insurance companies count on victims being vulnerable during the time immediately following their accident, taking advantage of the fact that they may not fully understand their options, their rights, the full value of their claim, or even what the insurer’s intentions truly are.
When an insurance company contacts you, the golden rule is to say as little as possible. Things you can disclose include:
- If you sought medical treatment
- The date the accident occurred
- The time of day the accident occurred
Disclosing any further information may put you at risk of having a comment used against you. For instance, if you explain that you were in a rush at the time of the accident, this comment could be used to illustrate that you were partially at fault for the accident. This could result in a lower settlement offer or a flat-out claim denial.
It’s important to note that you are not obligated to sign a statement, provide a recorded statement, or rate your pain when speaking to an insurance agent. If they ask you such questions, refer them to your attorney. Always remember: Insurance companies are not on the victim’s side, and they’re only seeking ways to pay out the lowest sum possible. Don’t make it easier for them by disclosing more information than is necessary!
What ff I’m partially at fault for the accident?
Many times, insurance agents will attempt to convince victims that they are partially at fault for their accident. They do this because your settlement can be reduced or denied if you are found to share significant blame for the accident. In Iowa, our legal system uses the “modified comparative negligence” rule: To recover compensation for an auto accident injury, the victim must prove that the other party was more at fault than them.
Additionally, if victims are found to share 50% or more of the blame (51% in Nebraska), they are ineligible to recover damages. If victims share less than 50% of the blame, they will have their total settlement reduced by the percentage of blame they are found to share. For instance, if your claim is worth $100,000 and you are found to be 25% at fault, you may only recover $75,000.
How much compensation will I receive?
The total amount of compensation you receive depends on several factors. In most cases, this number is determined by calculating the total cost of medical expenses incurred as a result of your injuries, as well as any lost wages, lost employment, and any other calculable expenses resulting from your accident. This value often is not determined until the victim has completed medical treatment and a doctor determines the long-term effects of their injuries. The job of your personal injury attorney is to ensure you receive the highest possible settlement for your suffering. It’s important to remember that while some factors, such as medical expenses or lost wages, can be precisely quantified, others cannot– such as pain and suffering or loss of certain bodily functions. It’s critical to have an experienced attorney on your side who can navigate these uncertain waters.
What if my claim is worth more than the insurance policy?
Sometimes an at-fault driver may not have a policy that’s able to cover the full value of the compensation you’re owed. If this is the case, there are other options that you may be able to pursue depending on the details of your accident. One of the best ways to prevent this is by obtaining an underinsured motorist policy through your own insurance provider. If you do not have such a policy in place, it’s best to consult with your car accident lawyer about your next steps as these types of cases increase in complexity.
How can I pay my bills if I’m too injured to work?
Severe car accident injuries can cause you to miss work or become unemployed altogether. When this happens, paying your bills can suddenly become more stressful than normal. However, victims may claim these lost wages or loss of employment in their car accident insurance claim. This allows them to recover the money lost due to their injuries. Be sure to keep a detailed record of all work hours and wages missed, as this will ensure you receive the most accurate compensation from your claim.
Should I avoid social media?
It’s not necessary to stay off all social media accounts when dealing with a car accident lawsuit; however, it’s not a bad idea to take a break during this process. Insurance companies are actively seeking ways to reduce their claim obligation. That means any photos, posts, or videos you publish to your accounts could be used against you.
If staying off of social media is not an option for you, it’s best to at least avoid posting anything about your claim online. It’s also advisable that you avoid posting anything that makes it seem like you are not injured or that your injuries are less severe than what you claim them to be. For instance, it’s probably not a good idea to post pictures of you partying it up with your friends on the beach (even if it’s from a long time ago), as this can damage your credibility.
Expert Legal Counsel at Peters Law Firm
At Peters Law Firm, our car accident attorneys have the skills and experience necessary to help you navigate the legal processes following your accident. We’ve helped countless clients in the Council Bluffs region recover the damages they’re owed, proudly serving the region since 1895. If you or a loved one has fallen victim to an auto accident, don’t hesitate to contact our team to set up a consultation with our car accident attorneys today!