Car Accident Case Step 1: Finding an Attorney and Getting Medical Attention
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If you have been injured in a car accident, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced car accident attorney before making any moves or filing a claim. The Austin car accident attorneys of Grossman Law Offices have over twenty years of experience and have helped thousands of car accident victims not only determine their rights under the law, but we’ve also helped them to obtain the compensation that they deserve.
We are firm believers that an educated client is a happy client. As such, we’ve provided the following information to explain how auto accident cases work. There are four crucial steps that every car accident claimant will go through (in addition to the obvious step of obtaining medical treatment):
Step 1 – You must find an attorney and seek legal representation
Step 2 – Your attorney must take steps to gather and preserve evidence necessary to win your case, including
- Memorializing Information
- Conducting an investigation
- Researching the defendant’s background including monitoring their Facebook and online profiles
Step 3 – Your attorney must deal with the insurance company and insurance related issues either pre-suit or after suit is filed (when necessary), including:
- Helping you avoid insurance schemes committed by defendants
- Your Austin attorney will help you understand the subtleties of insurance-related issues such as , whose insurance policy applies when a driver borrows a car, how your case is affected by drivers who were not in their own car, whether or not the defendant’s car is covered at all, and issues related to under-insured defendants
- Having a strong understanding of how insurance adjusters work and what to look out for when dealing with an insurance adjuster
Step 4 – The claim must be resolved through the administrative claims process or by virtue of litigation, including:
This article will discuss, in detail, the first step in the process: determining if you need legal representation and stressing the importance of obtaining medical attention for your injuries.
Situations Where you Need an Auto Accident Attorney but May Not Realize It
The first thing our attorneys will help you determine is whether or not you need legal representation. We can usually identify whether or not representation is needed by asking questions and looking for certain signs. Though most firms are loathe to admit it, there genuinely are cases where legal representation is not necessary. In fact, we provide consultations to dozens of prospective clients per week who we advise not to pursue their claims in court and we offer them some insider info to help them find a more appropriate means of resolving their cases.
But the opposite is also true. We often encounter prospective clients who think that their situation does not warrant representation when they genuinely need it; they just don’t realize it. Naturally, we educate them about their dilemma.
Here are some examples:
One pretty common example that we encounter is that of the car accident victim who feels that a favorable police report will be their saving grace and that they will therefore not require help from an Austin car accident attorney.
Let’s think that through for a second. If it were really that easy then why would we have courtrooms in the first place? It would certainly be easier to just train police officers to evaluate car accidents and eliminate the entire court system. It would probably be cheaper too. The problem is that such a system it is a blatant violation of our civil liberties as American citizens to grant any government authority sole dominion over civil matters. Under such a system, police officers would be judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one. Clearly, that is not how our country is designed to work.
The logical implication of this is that police officers are NOT the authority on determining liability. And if they are not the authority, then how damning to the defendants can a police report ever actually be? Simply put, their conclusions are nothing more than one piece of the overall puzzle. Don’t get us wrong, we like police officers (one of our attorneys is a former cop and another is from a family of police officers), but the opinions provided in police reports are simply not the ultimate determining factor in any case.
Furthermore, police reports are not inherently admissible as evidence, so even though it favors you, it may or may not be used in court to prove that the other driver was responsible for your injuries.
Another example are prospective clients who think that the fault of the defendant is so obvious that they clearly do not need a lawyer to win their case. Such a case with “obvious fault” does not exist. There is at least some longshot defense, at a minimum, for every type of negligence committed by a defendant.
We once litigated a case where a driver rear ended our client (which is about as obvious as you can get in terms of liability) in the middle of Downtown Austin in front of dozens of witnesses who all said it was the defendant’s fault, yet the defendant still initially argued that they were not liable by pleading the defense of “unavoidable accident.” We even litigated a truck accident case where an intoxicated truck driver struck our client from the rear and the defendants denied liability, citing that another vehicle a ¼ of a mile down the road distracted their driver and that was the true cause of the accident. In both of those cases we overcame their arguments, but the point still stands. Defendants are never required to accept liability and they can fight you all the way to the courthouse steps.
Yet another example are those who think that if they only sustain minor injuries that the insurance company will gladly pay them for such minor injuries. “After all,” they reason, “I’m not asking for that much.” While there may be some cases where the injuries sustained are truly not worth pursuing, even moderate injury cases can be worth thousands of dollars and insurance companies are more than willing to lowball you even on small claims.
There are other instances where you might be unsure if you need legal representation such as if the other driver you hit you is an uninsured motorist or if you have a personal injury protection (PIP) claim. In both of these instances, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney to make sure that all of your rights are being protected and that you receive all of the compensation that you deserve.
What Type of Plaintiff Are You?
Depending on the particular facts surrounding your case, you will be categorized as a particular type of plaintiff, which will give rise to certain rights and compensation. In other words, different individuals who are injured in car accidents will have different obstacles and opportunities available to them.
The approach taken and the compensation available to each of the following classifications of plaintiff will be slightly different due to their unique circumstances:
- Injured drivers
- Injured passengers
- Injured children
- A high wage earner
- Injured college student
- Workers injured in car wreck
For instance, a worker injured on the job will probably have to balance their car accident case with a workers’ comp case (not to mention a workers’ comp adjuster who will likely try to maintain a lien against the workers’ car accident settlement. Likewise, a high wage earner, a child, and a student will all have special considerations that warrant a modified approach to each of their respective cases.
How an Austin Car Accident Attorney Can Help You
Any time that you are injured in a car accident, even if you do not immediately believe that your injuries are serious, you should consult with an experienced car accident attorney to determine your rights under the law.
An experienced car accident attorney will be able to help guide you through the entire process and help you receive the compensation that you deserve.
Areas in Austin prone to accidents: