Car Accident FAQs
What Happens When I Get Hurt By a Negligent Driver?
The first order of business in any case is to conduct an investigation.
Most of the time the police report is sufficient. But not infrequently, we hire an investigator to obtain additional statements, scene photographs. Cases are not like fine wine, they don’t get better with time. Hiring a law firm to conduct the earliest possible investigation can be critical to a good outcome for your car accident case.
If we suspect the cause of the collision was cell phone use, we send a Preservation Letter to the defendant and their insurance company. While much of the cell phone data can be retrieved later, some data can be gone in as little as 30 days. Don’t wait if you suspect cell phone usage.
In cases of serious injury or wrongful death and in all commercial vehicle accidents we may conduct a Data Download. Many vehicles have “black boxes” which record speed, brakes, signals, seat belt use and other data that can be used to determine liability. This data is lost quickly if the vehicle is driven after the collision. If you want black box data my advice is hire a law firm to act quickly on your behalf to determine if an accident reconstruction expert needs to be hired for your case.
What about that camera at the intersection?
Most cameras are monitored not recorded but the only way to find out is ask. This data expires so you must request the information quickly or it can be gone forever. In rare cases of serious injury and death we have filed suit and obtained subpoenas for area businesses who may have surveillance camera footage. We had a pedestrian death case where footage from a nearby business turned out to be critical.
We want you to worry about getting better, and let us worry about everything else.
You Must Seek Medical Treatment
It is important for your health and welfare to get all the medical treatment you need. Seek treatment for your injuries at the earliest possible date. Keep your appointments and finish treatment. We need to identify what injuries are permanent.
What if I don’t have medical insurance or Can’t Afford the Deductible?
There are many medical providers who will provide quality medical care without requiring payment up front. This is becoming more and more common. I can’t count the number of times clients have gone to the doctor they have had for many years to hear, “We won’t see you if there is a chance it will involve a lawsuit.” There are many choices out there for quality medical care and we can help you find a healthcare provider who will gladly help.
What about my car?
If the defendant has insurance they should make you an offer. Fair is probably not the right word because a good used car with no car payment is worth more to you than what the market value of the vehicle.
If the defendant is uninsured and you have liability only, that is, no collision coverage you may be out more than your deductible. We can file a State Accident Report to get the defendant’s license suspended, but it is not very often worth suing them because an uninsured defendant is probably uncollectible.
We will help with your property damage any way we can.
Who is going to cover my lost wages?
We will recover your lost wages but it will be part of the global settlement of all damages in the case. In addition to your past lost wages we often sue and recover for future lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
Most “car accidents” are not an “accident” but rather the result of the Defendant’s poor choices. Did the Defendant choose to be distracted by using a cell phone, by traveling at an excessive speed or too fast for conditions, did the defendant choose to follow too close? Drivers must exercise the highest degree of care. Drivers must keep a careful lookout, keep a safe distance, obey the traffic laws and ordinances and otherwise drive cautiously. Many negligent drivers act as if they are the only ones on the road. While we call it an “accident” it is often the Defendant’s selfish choices that cause car wrecks.
Now your car is wrecked, you have a deductible, need to find a rental car, buy a new car (sometimes with a new car note).
On top of the loss of your vehicle if you are injured, now there are medical, ambulance, hospital doctor and other medical bills. Health insurance deductibles. Lost wages. Time and energy away from work and personal and family activities. You need a law firm that will fight for the compensation you deserve.
What if the defendant doesn’t have insurance? Then what? Most drivers don’t know that with every insurance policy purchased in Missouri there is mandatory Uninsured Motorist Coverage. That is, even where the other driver did not have insurance you have insurance to cover your injuries. You have a right to make a claim and collect for injuries.
These uninsured motorist claims should not affect your rates or get you cancelled where the collision or car wreck is not your fault.
You may even talk to an insurance agent who either never tells you about available uninsured motorist coverage or outright lies about your right to make a claim. Don’t be fooled. If the other driver is uninsured. Call a lawyer. The personal injury lawyers and Wolfgram Law have been fighting for their clients for more than 30 years. We have the knowledge and experience to fight for your rights.
Should I use my private health insurance?
Yes. Health insurance is a benefit of your employment you have bought and paid for. There is no reason not to use your health insurance. In most cases, having health insurance pay the medical bills means you put more of the settlement or verdict in your pocket.
The hospital wants the police report number, what do I do?
Don’t give the hospital the police report number. What does that have to do with medical treatment? Nothing. When a medical provider asks for a police report or car insurance they are only trying to dig deeper into your pocket.
Why does the hospital or ambulance, doctor or chiropractor want police report or car insurance information?
The medical provider is trying to avoid the lower payment from your health insurance. They want to bill you, your auto insurance or the other driver’s auto insurance for the full sticker price. Don’t do it! That is your money. Only provide health insurance to medical providers. Insist they bill your health insurance. Refuse to give out a police report or auto insurance to anyone other than your attorney. Seek personal injury legal advice from Wolfgram Law. You worry about getting better and let us worry about everything else.
Will My Insurance Company Protect My Interests?
Each month, when you pay your car insurance, you are hoping that you will have enough benefits to cover your potential financial losses. There are coverages for your vehicle and the other person’s vehicle as well as bodily injury coverage. However, the medical bills may exceed what you can afford even if you purchased medical payments coverage.
You have a right to seek relief from the at-fault driver. You can report the claim to your own insurance company and to the defendant’s carrier, but the typical insurance company is going to use the information that you provide to its own advantage. Insurance companies are in the business to make a profit. They pay out as little as they can. Your insurance company isn’t necessarily on your side. Don’t be tricked into thinking you are in good hands when it comes to making claims against your own insurance company. Insurance companies have an army of defense lawyers and insurance adjusters who deny claims on a daily basis to keep their legal costs and payouts down. They aren’t going to protect your interests after an accident because your case isn’t personally important to them.
How Long Does it Take to Resolve My Claim?
It doesn’t take long after your treatment is complete to submit a demand and start negotiations. From this point, the claim can settle quickly. If it does not settle quickly and a lawsuit is required most jurisdictions take about a year for the case to be heard. However, there are many opportunities to settle the claim along the way. In fact, we often resolve cases well before trial. Some jurisdictions take longer to have your case heard. For example, cases in Cook County, Chicago, Illinois, take longer than cases in Carthage Missouri. We cover claims all over the bi- state area.
How Do I Choose a Lawyer?
Choose a lawyer with experience, who takes cases to trial – rather than settling, and is well respected in the legal community. Most of all, you want a lawyer who cares about you and your family and has as their primary goal to put as much money as possible in your pocket for the injuries and damages you have suffered. Here at Wolfgram Law most of our cases come on referral from other clients and attorneys. There is no fee unless you collect and we won’t ask you for money for expenses, which come out at the end of the case. A first phone call or meeting is usually where the connection is made and you know it when you feel it. Call anytime, the call is free.