What to Do After a Car Accident Checklist

A vehicle crash becomes more than an unexpected pause in your day. It initiates a chain of events that often leaves you feeling out of control. You need a “what to do after a car accident checklist” to minimize any post-accident chaos. Unfortunately, when conflicting emotions seize the moment, you will not always think rationally.

A crash often triggers instantaneous tension, anxiety, and stress. You struggle with uncertainty and doubt as you rethink those last few seconds behind the wheel. If you sustain injuries, you feel immediate pain and suffering. Even if the other driver clearly caused the crash, you sometimes wonder… is it my fault? You deal with many emotions as you view your damaged vehicle and meet the other driver face-to-face. Until a law enforcement officer intervenes, you often respond based on instincts.

What to Do After a Car Accident Checklist: 9 Tips

You cannot always prevent emotional responses after an accident, but you can maintain some control. Our car accident checklist provides fifteen tips that help you navigate the post-accident chaos.

1. Dial 911

Most states require mandatory police reports for accidents with severe damage and/or injuries. As soon as the vehicles stop, you should dial 911. If you are injured, let the emergency operator know. You will save time waiting for an EMT.

Police do not determine fault,  but they do investigate accident scenes and document the facts. Insurers rely on an officer’s opinion about alcohol, drugs, traffic violations, pavement conditions, and other details. Without a police report, every critical fact becomes your word against the other driver’s.

2. Never admit fault or say anything that sounds like you are admitting fault

While waiting for a police officer, be careful what you say. Bystanders listen and remember, and they often share what they heard. Impulsive, emotional post-accident comments do not usually affect you immediately. They often resurface during liability investigations and settlement negotiations.

If you file a lawsuit against the responsible driver, sometimes you must deny or confirm what you said during a deposition or in court testimony.

  • Do not say you are at fault, even if that is what you believe. Let someone else sort out the liability issues.
  • Show concern for injured passengers in both vehicles, but never say you are sorry.
  • Do not apologize for being involved in the accident. Any apology sounds like you are admitting fault.
  • Res gestae is the legal term for these types of spontaneous statements. Courts often consider them truthful.

3. Give just the facts

In the 1960s, TV police officer Joe Friday often used the expression, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Consider his wisdom when another driver crashes into your car. Facts, that is what real-life police officers, lawyers, insurance companies, and court officials need. When you talk to a police officer, never answer questions they did not ask. Do not provide your opinions and theories.

Better yet, call a car accident lawyer, and let them give the insurance company the facts.

  • Your speed
  • What happened
  • Your vehicle make and model
  • The weather and illumination
  • The pavement condition
  • Traffic control devices, etc.

4. Take steps to document the evidence

Within moments after an accident occurs, the evidence you need to prove your case begins to fade. Witnesses leave, and so do drivers sometimes. The lighting and weather change and traffic usually moves accident debris down the road. When an officer begins an investigation, you are standing at a slightly different accident scene. Document what happened before these changes occur.

Use your smartphone and capture the scene immediately.

  • The Driver: Sometimes, the other driver simply hops back into their car and drives away. Capture their information before they do. Take a picture of the driver, driver’s license, vehicle license plate, and insurance card. Also, confirm their current address.
  • The Vehicles: Capture the vehicle year, make, model, points of impact, license plate, current and old damage.
  • The Scene: Take a photo of the entire accident scene with separate close-ups of the pavement, skid marks, debris, and traffic control devices.
  • Witnesses: Ask bystanders if they saw the accident. If so, ask for their contact information.

If you are hurt and cannot leave your car, ask someone for help.

5. Get immediate medical evaluation and treatment

Injuries do not always show up immediately. If you withstood a severe impact during your accident, get a medical checkup and make sure you do not require treatment. A powerful impact often causes serious injuries, especially for young children and older adults.

Conditions such as traumatic brain injury and organ damage require immediate attention. Unfortunately, you will not always feel the symptoms right away. Visit an emergency room and be sure before telling a liability insurer that you are okay.

6. File a report with your insurance company

Your insurance carrier requires a report even if you think the other driver caused the accident. Sometimes the other driver feels the same way you do. If they sustain serious injuries, they will not simply go away. Your insurer must complete an investigation and decide if they owe damages on your behalf.

Also, if the other driver has no insurance and you have uninsured motorist coverage, your own insurance company must determine if they owe you an injury settlement.

7. Follow your doctor’s orders

Doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and medical follow-ups take time and energy. If you plan on making an injury claim, you must follow your doctor’s orders anyway. When the liability insurer evaluates your claim, they see your treatment as an indication of your injury severity. If you do not keep your doctor appointments, participate in rehabilitation or therapy, or take your medication as ordered, it affects your claim’s dollar value.

8. Track and document your pain and suffering

When you are seriously injured, a lot of time usually passes before you consider settling your claim. By then, you will have lost track of the day-to-day inconveniences, the problems you encountered, and even your pain and suffering. When your pain, suffering, and difficult experiences fade away, it is actually a good thing, but you want to document them so you don’t forget how they felt. Those details add value to your claim.

When you keep an injury journal, you capture your experiences as you move through treatment and recovery. Your journal provides written memory triggers. It helps you explain your day-to-day recovery issues long after the pain fades away.

Track the following details beginning on day one.

  • Your painful experiences, beginning with your accident
  • Your medical treatment, surgery, and recovery issues
  • Your pain, suffering, and discomfort
  • Activities you could not perform
  • Events you missed
  • Changes in your family
  • Psychological issues from dealing with your injuries
  • How your scars affect you
  • Any information that reminds you of your treatment and recovery difficulties

9. Contact a Car Accident Attorney Immediately

When a car accident hurts you, you need more than a car accident checklist. To protect your legal rights, you must consult with a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Attorneys become involved in your case immediately. They intervene with responsible parties and deal with their insurers. They investigate your claim and resolve any liability issues.

When you are ready, they negotiate the best possible settlement on your behalf. If necessary, car accident attorneys file a lawsuit and represent you throughout the litigation process.

When you contact an attorney, you discuss your injury claim during a free consultation. You learn more about your legal rights and your damage recovery options. Contact a car accident attorney today to get started.

How Long After an Accident Can You Claim Injury?

Not only are car accidents terrifying, but they cause serious injuries. Whether its whiplash, a broken rib, a traumatic brain injury, a spinal cord injury, or something else, you’re sure to suffer severe consequences in your daily life.

It helps to know how long after an accident you can claim an injury. Claiming an injury will allow you to gain compensation from the person responsible for your accident, regardless of how it occurred. However, if you wait too long to claim an injury, you could be stuck without a chance of compensation. It’s essential to speak with a car accident lawyer about claiming an injury as soon as possible after an accident.

How Long Do You Have to Claim an Injury Caused by a Car Accident?

All states carry a statute of limitations for bringing charges against others in civil or criminal suits. The length of a statute of limitations will vary depending on the severity of the crime or negligent action and the consequences that the victim endures.

In many states, including West Virginia, you must bring a claim for injury within two years to gain compensation.

While filing a claim within two years may seem easy, it can be more challenging than you think. You may have to meet several deadlines to file a proper personal injury claim. In addition, you may have to enter into negotiations before you can file a claim. If so, you’ll need help from a personal injury lawyer to make sure that you follow all legal procedures before filing a claim.

How Long Should You Wait Before Calling a Lawyer?

If you have two years before you need to file a claim, you may think you should wait at least a year or more before calling a lawyer. However, this is not necessarily the case. Everything involved in a personal injury claim takes more time than you expect.

First, of course, there is the time that you will need to deal with and recover from your injuries. If you suffered pretty severe injuries, you may need to spend weeks or months in treatment or the hospital. You’ll probably need surgery or an operation, and you may need even more than one! Plus, you’ll have to start taking medication or attending therapy to get as quickly as possible on the road to recovery.

Then there’s the time that it will take to collect evidence. You can’t file a claim and simply prove it because you believe it’s true. You will need evidence that the at-fault party caused the accident and that you are not responsible for the injuries you suffered.

You’ll need evidence, including:

  • Medical records
  • Medical bills
  • Receipts for repairs to damaged property
  • A police report
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Expert testimony from medical professionals
  • Testimony from your family and friends
  • Photos or video footage from the accident scene

It takes time to gather such evidence, and you’ll likely need legal help. That’s why it’s so important to call a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. They’ll work hard to gather the evidence you need to win your personal injury claim. They’ll also ensure you don’t miss any critical deadlines while recovering from your injuries.

What Do You Do After a Car Accident?

To file and pursue the most effective personal injury claim possible, you must start the case right.

This means that you need to take a few important steps to ensure your claim goes well.

  1. Seek medical attention. Immediately seek medical attention from first responders. You must know what injuries the accident caused and treat them.
  2. Call the police. If they are not already at the scene, do be sure that you call the police to get their support. It’s helpful to have a police report on hand when you’re creating a complaint as police reports usually have very specific details on the accident and how it occurred.
  3. Talk to witnesses. While you’re at the accident scene waiting on the ambulance and police, speak with others who witnessed the accident. Ask for their contact information and, if you have time, for a written statement of what they saw.
  4. Take photos. Use your phone to take pictures of obvious injuries, damage to vehicles, and other relevant evidence such as skid marks or damaged guardrails.
  5. Call your insurance company. As required, call your insurance company to report the accident. Be sure not to offer an apology or admission of guilt since that could work against you in a personal injury claim.
  6. Exchange insurance information. You will need this information from the other driver to seek compensation from their insurance company.
  7. Call a personal injury lawyer. As soon as you have time, get on the phone with a lawyer who offers a free consultation to begin the next steps toward your personal injury claim.

You must take these steps after an accident if you want to fight for your claim successfully. Your lawyer can calculate what damages you suffered from economic and noneconomic losses and pursue compensation for them.

Remember that the most important step you can take is to get medical attention right away to ensure your successful recovery. Once you’re on the way to health, a personal injury law firm’s lawyer can help you sort out everything else.

What to Expect Physically After a Car Accident?

Car accidents injure around three million people in the U.S. each year, including two million who suffer permanent injuries from a traffic-related crash. Even minor injuries can result in pain, which often increases over the first hours or days after the accident, as the adrenaline wears off and the body begins to respond to the injury.

However, many people don’t know what to expect physically after a car accident when to seek assistance or even the assistance they need.

Common Physical Complaints After Car Accidents

Some common physical complaints people have after being in a car accident include the following.

#1. Headache

Post-traumatic headaches are perhaps the most common complaint from those who were in car accidents. They have several causes, including a blow to the head resulting in injury to the brain-or whiplash, which causes damage to the soft tissues of the neck that can also result in headaches. It is essential to have a medical evaluation if you have experienced a headache after an accident. It could signify a more severe injury that can worsen without treatment.

Individuals often regard concussions-one of the injuries most often experienced in car accidents-as “minor head injuries.” There is no such thing as a “minor head injury,” given the brain’s important role in controlling the body’s function and limited ability to heal from injury.

#2. Back, Shoulder, or Neck Pain

Back, shoulder, or neck pain is also a common sign of whiplash, which occurs when the sufferer’s head snaps back and forth rapidly, causing damage to the soft tissue in the neck. However, there are other causes of back, shoulder, or neck pain, including damage to the spinal vertebrae or discs, or even an incomplete injury to the spinal cord. Lumbar strains and sprains can also occur after an accident, resulting in low back pain.

Depending on the type of back, shoulder, or neck injury you have suffered, your treatment can consist of prescription medications, corticosteroid injections, surgical interventions, and physical therapy to retain or regain functional use of the back, shoulders, or neck. Damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent paralysis and associated complications that can continue throughout the sufferer’s life.

#3. Inability to Use a Limb or Bear Weight On It

Nearly any bone in the body can become injured in a car accident. Commonly, bone fractures occur to the limbs, including the arms and hands, and legs and feet. If you can’t use a limb or bear weight, you could be suffering from a bone fracture. Other symptoms that are often present when there is a bone fracture are sudden pain, swelling, and obvious deformity of the limb.

Failing to obtain prompt treatment for a broken bone can impair its ability to heal, increasing levels of tenderness, swelling, and pain over time. Having the bone properly set allows ample blood supply to the area to foster new bone material to fill the break.

#4. Dizziness When Standing

Dizziness when standing can indicate a concussion or blood loss from internal injuries. It can also result from a neck injury that involves damage to the proprioceptor, which helps the brain understand where the body is and results in confusion for the brain when injured. Either way, it is essential to seek medical care if you are experiencing dizziness when standing after a car accident, whether this sensation is immediate or occurs hours after the injury.

Some Injuries Present with Delayed Symptoms

Car accidents are traumatic, generally causing a person’s “fight or flight” hormone-adrenaline-to flood the body. This reaction can result in a delayed ability to feel pain from the injury. Additionally, some injuries, such as internal injuries resulting in bleeding, become more apparent over time as further damage takes place. It is important to pay attention to how you feel over the hours and days following the accident and alert your physician if you are experiencing worsening pain.

When Should You Seek a Medical Evaluation After a Car Accident?

Seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible after an accident. An ambulance will often arrive on-scene, and emergency medical technicians will evaluate those suffering from physical injuries to determine if transport to a hospital for immediate assistance is needed. Even if EMTs clear you at the scene, if you have lingering or worsening pain or begin experiencing new symptoms, see a physician who can diagnose and treat the injury.

If another driver caused your accident, seek medical treatment to preserve your right to file a claim to obtain compensation for your medical bills, car repair, wage loss, and lost future earning capacity. You can also seek compensation for the emotional costs of your injury, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress.

When Should You Talk to An Attorney About Seeking Compensation?

If a car accident injures you, an experienced legal team does not need to tell you that medical treatment and losing work time is expensive and hurts your quality of life. They can tell you that if your accident occurred because of someone else’s recklessness or carelessness, you can seek compensation for your injury. A car accident lawyer can do that for you.

Let a car accident attorney explore your legal options for seeking compensation for your car accident injury.

Rear-End Collision Injuries

There are roughly 1.7 million rear-end accidents in the U.S. each year. Contrary to popular belief, however, not all of these accidents are minor fender-benders. About 1,700 people are killed annually by rear-end accidents, and half a million suffer injuries. If you were injured due to a rear-end accident, a car accident lawyer can seek compensation for your injury.

Common Injuries Resulting from Rear-End Accidents

While whiplash is the most common injury resulting from a rear-end accident, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are among the most serious—and they have a high likelihood of resulting in permanent disabilities. Here is a look at four injuries commonly sustained in rear-end accidents.

#1. Whiplash

Whiplash is an injury affecting the soft tissues of the neck after the head snaps back and forth, similar to the motion of a lashing whip. The injury presents with neck pain and stiffness that worsens with movement, headaches that start at the base of the skull, tenderness in the shoulder, upper back, or arms, tingling or numbness, and dizziness.

While many people recover from whiplash through mild medical treatment, rest, and relaxation, some individuals will incur chronic pain due to the injury. The risk of this complication is highest for older people, those who have suffered a whiplash injury before, have existing low back or neck pain, or were injured in a more forceful high-speed accident.

#2. Spinal Cord Injuries

Around 17,000 new spinal cord injuries are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, and car accidents are one of the leading causes of this type of injury. When a rear-end accident occurs, the individual in the lead car often suffers a violent back and forth motion of their body. While this can cause whiplash in the neck, severe impacts can also damage the spinal cord in the neck or back.

The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist and serves as a messenger system between the brain and the rest of the body. Spinal cord injuries generally result in a loss of function and sensation beneath the injury site, known as paralysis. A complete injury leaves no remaining sensation or function. However, an incomplete injury can leave some sensation and ability to use the affected parts of the body.

#3. Other Neck and Back Injuries

Rear-end accidents can also result in other types of neck and back injuries, including:

  • Lumbar sprains, which can cause pain and instability in the lower back.
  • Disc injuries, which involve the jelly-filled discs that cushion the spinal vertebrae. These discs can be knocked out of place or even ruptured in a car accident.
  • Vertebral fractures, which damage the small vertebral bones of the spine after high-speed rear-end accidents. If untreated, these fractures can result in pain and instability in the back and can cause damage to the spinal cord, resulting in nerve damage and even paralysis.

#4. Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries involve damage to the brain due to a sudden jolt or blow to the body. The jolt experienced in a rear-end accident can result in this type of injury. The brain is responsible for sending impulses to the body to control functions and involuntary responses.

Several functional segments of the brain, known as lobes, control different areas of the body. When damage occurs to any of these lobes, it often results in permanent loss or impairment of the functions that particular lobe controls.

Common types of disabilities due to traumatic brain injuries include:

  • The inability to remember people or events.
  • Difficulty controlling one’s emotions or impulses.
  • Difficulty organizing or completing tasks.
  • Inability to move in a balanced or coordinated manner.
  • Loss of vision, or the ability to perceive the size and shape of objects.

Rear-End Accidents Can Impact Your Entire Life

Suffering a serious injury, including those listed above, can result in impacts to your entire life, such as:

  • Finances: The injuries sustained in rear-end accidents can result in hospitalization or surgical procedures, which can prove expensive. Additional expenses include damage to the vehicle you were riding in, the need for household improvements to accommodate the injury, or hiring someone to perform household tasks such as laundry or cleaning that you are too injured to perform on your own.
  • Income: An individual may miss days or even weeks of work or school after a car accident. Catastrophic injuries such as those affecting the brain or spinal cord can result in permanent disabilities that can prevent the sufferer from being able to return to work and earn the same income as before the accident.
  • Relationships: Rear-end accidents can produce injuries that cause family members to step into caregiving roles to assist a severely injured loved one. It can also result in the inability to participate in activities and hobbies, leading to the inability to participate in society or enjoy outings with friends.

Individuals who were rear-ended may seek compensation for their injury’s financial and psychological impacts.

Rear-End Accident? A Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Suppose a rear-end accident injured you due to someone else’s negligence. In that case, a car accident legal team can talk to you about how to seek the most compensation available for your injury.

Can You Seek Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident?

The impacts of a car accident on the life of someone who was involved are not always physical or financial. Being injured in an accident, witnessing someone die, or even being afraid for your own life can result in psychological impacts as well, including a condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you have suffered PTSD from a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation for the impact of the condition on your quality of life. An experienced car accident attorney can tell you how.

What Is PTSD?

As explained by the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD can happen to anyone, of any gender, ethnicity, social class, or age group, as a response to witnessing or being involved in a traumatic event.

While the condition is most commonly associated with combat veterans, about 3.5 percent of the U.S. adult population is affected by PTSD every year for many reasons-including car accidents; 11 percent of people will develop PTSD in their lifetimes, with women twice as likely to suffer from the condition as men.

What Are the PTSD Symptoms Most Commonly Suffered After a Car Accident?

Some of the symptoms of PTSD most commonly experienced by those involved in serious car accidents include:

  • Psychologically re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive thoughts or dreams about the accident.
  • Persistent avoidance of thoughts or situations related to the accident. For example, a common symptom of someone suffering PTSD after a car accident is fear of or refusal to drive a car.
  • Numbed emotional response, such as failing to produce emotional responses to the needs of others or feeling detached.
  • Increased physical arousal, such as startling easily, becoming quickly agitated, or having trouble sleeping.

The Impacts of PTSD on the Sufferer’s Life

PTSD after a car accident often results from traumatic events such as witnessing someone die or become seriously injured, having serious injuries involving a lengthy recovery period or particularly painful treatments, or the sufferer has witnessed repeated traumatic incidents.

Up to 80 percent of people with long-term PTSD develop additional mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, or alcohol or substance misuse. These issues and the symptoms they cause can make it difficult for the sufferer to work, focus on school, obtain adequate sleep, and maintain healthy relationships with others. The condition can result in frequent emotional outbursts or detachment that make relationships difficult and increase the risk of injury or death.

Seeking Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident

Generally, individuals can seek compensation for PTSD as a non-economic damage, which involves compensation for the quality-of-life impacts of being injured in an accident.

Because this compensates psychological impacts instead of financial ones, the compensation you can seek for the injury depends on:

  • The severity of the physical injuries you suffered.
  • The type and duration of treatment you incurred.
  • Whether you have been diagnosed with PTSD.
  • The impact of the condition on your ability to earn an income.

How Much Compensation Can I Receive for PTSD?

Due to the unique nature of the condition and the combination of its impacts with the other injuries and impacts experienced as a result of the accident, it is impossible to come up with an “average” award for clients seeking compensation for PTSD.

Some of the factors that can affect the compensation available for non-economic damages include:

  • The amount of insurance the at-fault party has.
  • The impact of your condition on your ability to earn an income.
  • The circumstances of the accident, such as the severity and whether there were fatalities.

How Can You Prove PTSD?

The easiest way to prove PTSD resulting from a car accident is to be formally diagnosed with the condition by a medical doctor or mental health provider. PTSD treatment can include both therapies focused on confronting the traumatic memory and working through the beliefs associated with the experience and prescription medication in some circumstances that can reduce the mental health conditions associated with PTSD, such as anxiety and depression.

To diagnose PTSD, a medical doctor may perform a physical exam to ensure that no physical injuries are causing the condition. A psychological examination may determine if your symptoms align with the diagnostic criteria for the condition as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Suppose you have not obtained a formal diagnosis of PTSD. In that case, you can often still seek compensation for the psychological impacts of your injury through witness testimony from your employer, family, or friends as to how the emotional trauma has affected your ability to work, socialize, or maintain the responsibilities of your day-to-day life.

A Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You With Your Claim

An experienced car accident attorney can provide several services to help a client seeking compensation for the psychological impacts of their injury.

Some of those services include:

  • Properly valuing the claim to provide compensation for the treatment of the claimant’s psychological injuries.
  • Providing documentation of the condition to the insurer and/or the court to show the need for compensation for PTSD.
  • Fighting against insurance company tactics to reduce the value of a claim, such as an insurer claiming that there is no compensation available for non-economic damages.
  • Managing the deadlines in your case to ensure your right to seek compensation not only from the insurer, but to file a claim in court if the insurer fails to fairly compensate you for your injury.

Let the right legal team tell you more about the personal injury claims process. Contact a car accident attorney for a free case evaluation today to discuss your claim and legal options.

4 Things to Do if You Are in an Accident Where Someone Is Injured

Being involved in a car accident can be one of the most chaotic experiences a person can endure. This is particularly true after a serious injury.

Here are four critical steps to take if you are in an accident where someone is injured.

1. Render Aid

In every state in the nation, if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle, you must stop, render aid, and exchange information with other drivers in the accident. However, rendering aid does not necessarily mean that you must perform life saving procedures on someone. Rendering aid more commonly involves calling 911 to request an ambulance to the scene and remaining with the injured person until help arrives.

2. Exchange Information

Suppose a car accident caused by another driver’s carelessness or recklessness injured someone. In that case, they have the right to seek compensation for their injuries from the at-fault party most often through their auto liability insurance policy. This endeavor can even involve using the state’s civil court system if the insurance provider or the at-fault party fails to compensate the claimant’s injury adequately.

To make this process possible, the drivers of each vehicle involved must exchange information with other drivers, including:

  • Name and contact details of all drivers involved.
  • Year, make, and model of all vehicles involved.
  • The license plate number of all vehicles involved.
  • The driver’s license number of all drivers involved.

If the driver of the car you were riding in was injured, you may provide the needed information to other drivers. If you cannot do so, the officer responding to the scene will produce an accident report containing this information.

Collect any witnesses’ names and contact information at the scene.

Most insurance companies require their insured to report any accidents they have been involved in with their vehicle, even if the insured does not plan to file a claim. This safeguards them from unexpected claims and leaves the door open if the insured has a policy that can help pay for their injury. It is essential to include the information you have obtained from the other drivers involved when you make this report to your insurance company.

3. Seek a Medical Evaluation for Yourself

Anyone involved in a car accident should have a medical evaluation afterward. This is because car accidents can result in injuries that present delayed symptoms. It is best to obtain treatment for an injury immediately after it occurs. Any delay could cause further damage.

In addition, seek a medical evaluation after an accident to preserve your right to seek compensation for your injuries. This process requires you to prove that your injuries resulted from the accident, which is more challenging if you didn’t seek immediate medical attention.

4. Speak With an Attorney

Suppose you or your loved ones sustained an injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. In that case, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of the injury through the personal injury claims process.

An experienced personal injury attorney can:

  • Determine who caused the accident and the availability of associated insurance resources that can provide your compensation.
  • Evaluate your claim to account for the accident’s severity, how much insurance coverage is available, the expenses you incurred in medically treating your injury, and how the injury impacted your quality of life.
  • Gather evidence that can prove liability and expenses. The evidence used to establish liability in a car accident often includes photos from the accident scene, the police report, witness testimony, and information such as a driver’s drug or alcohol test results and the expert testimony of accident reconstruction professionals. Medical and vehicle repair bills, employment documentation, and testimony from medical professionals can prove expenses.
  • Manage your case’s deadlines to ensure your right to file your claim in court. Car accident claimants in West Virginia typically have two years to file their claim in court. If you fail to file the claim by then, you cannot seek compensation for your injury.
  • Manage communication with the insurance provider to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf and protect your claim from common insurance company tactics.
  • Advise you about the process, the value of your claim, and other matters as necessary to ensure you have the information available to make reasoned decisions about the status of your case.
  • Litigate your claim by preparing evidence exhibits, delivering opening and closing arguments, and questioning witnesses.
  • Collect your settlement or award.

Injured in an Accident? A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

If a negligent driver in West Virginia caused you harm, you likely have many questions about your case and legal options. A personal injury legal team can answer those questions and provide you with information about the process that can help determine your next steps. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible for more information about your rights.

West‌ ‌Virginia‌ ‌Tractor-Trailer‌ ‌Accidents‌

Getting out on the road in West Virginia always carries a risk. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in one year, 260 people lost their lives in West Virginia vehicle accidents. The danger is only greater when adding tractor-trailers to the mix.

We all understand how important tractor-trailers are to the state’s economy.

Trucks deliver the food, clothing, and medication we all depend on. But keeping everyone safe on the roads is also a priority, and tractor-trailers pose especially high safety risks.

Given their unique features and massive size, tractor-trailers can cause significant injuries, for which victims should recover compensation.

Driver Error and Tractor-Trailer Design Increase Danger

Tractor-trailers pose greater safety risks, particularly because of the unique driver errors that truckers can make and the tractor-trailer design.

Driver error is one of the most common reasons for vehicle accidents generally. But there is even more potential for error when it comes to tractor-trailers, increasing the likelihood of serious accidents.

These may include:

  • Lack of experience – Tractor-trailers require more skill than a normal passenger vehicle to safely operate. This is why West Virginia requires drivers of large trucks to carry commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs). Still, companies, desperate to fill positions, may hire truckers who lack the skill and experience needed to operate tractor-trailers safely.
  • Ignoring established standards – Trucking companies and their drivers must adhere to specific rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), particularly to how much rest truckers must take relative to driving hours. However, in the interest of making deliveries on time, employers or truckers may disregard these rules, putting drowsy drivers behind the wheel of massive tractor-trailers, and placing them and others on West Virginia roads at serious risk of harm.
  • Driver negligence and risky driving – Like any driver on the road, truckers may engage in negligent and risky driving, from driving distracted or fatigued, to tailgating, to violating traffic signals and driving laws.

These driver errors create a significantly greater risk of serious injury and death in the case of tractor-trailers. While a standard motor vehicle weighs approximately 6,000 pounds, a fully loaded tractor-trailer can weigh more than 13 times that amount. Anyone who encounters tractor-trailer driver error is at a massive disadvantage.

West Virginia Tractor Trailer Accident Injuries

West Virginia tractor-trailer accidents may cause devastating injuries and impacts to victims and their families. Some families lose loved ones in tractor-trailer accidents—the size differential between a tractor-trailer and a normal passenger vehicle makes fatal results more likely.

Some of the types of injuries that can cause life-long problems include:

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) – Head injuries are an especially prevalent injury in tractor-trailer accidents. Indeed, traffic accidents, generally, are among the most common causes of TBI. TBI victims can suffer life-long impairments and require life-long care.
  • Crushing injuries – Tractor-trailers also pose a high risk of crushing injuries. Trucks can pin victims in their vehicles due to the impact and much greater mass of the tractor-trailer. This crushing can lead to internal bleeding, broken bones, and other severe injuries.
  • Back and neck injuries – Back and neck injuries are common in any vehicle accident, but especially when a tractor-trailer is involved. These injuries can cause chronic pain, diminished mobility, and other life-changing impacts.

West Virginia Insurance and Tractor-Trailer Accidents

Insurance typically covers tractor-trailer accident claims. Tractor-trailer operators in West Virginia are must carry minimum liability policies if they cause an accident. But determining who all may be liable for a tractor-trailer accident may be more complicated. While you may at first assume the tractor-trailer driver is the only liable party, this is not always the case, such as when the tractor-trailer driver was driving as an employee at the time of the accident.

Some potentially liable parties, other than the tractor-trailer driver, include:

  • Owner/Operator of the trucking company employing the driver
  • The company responsible for loading/unloading trucks
  • Any company or business that performed maintenance work on the truck
  • Vehicle parts manufacturers

Each of these parties could have caused the accident, and thus their insurers must pay your claim. Because of this alone, the insurance claim process can be tedious, as different insurers try to avoid liability by pinning the blame for the accident on parties other than their insureds.

And insurance companies often generally slow down the claims process, even as you are desperate for compensation to cover your medical and other expenses from the accident. An insurance company wants to minimize your claim as much as possible to protect its bottom line. If multiple insurance companies are potentially on the hook for paying out, they will not only fight you but each other, which could prolong the claims process.

In the wake of a tractor-trailer accident, victims with medical bills stacking up naturally are desperate to figure out how to pay them and keep financially afloat.

Generally speaking, there are three resources from which West Virginia tractor-trailer accident victims can seek compensation:

  1. Victim’s insurance company – The quickest way to get compensation might be to file a claim with your insurer, though your policy might not fully cover your losses. If you carry a liability-only policy, your insurance might not cover anything
  2. File a third-party claim with the at-fault parties’ insurance companies – Filing a claim with the responsible parties’ insurers may take investigation and time, but is often the only way to recover compensation to cover all expenses.
  3. File a personal injury lawsuit – If filing insurance claims fails, your only option is likely to be to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court. A lawsuit may prolong the process but often gets insurance companies to pay fair compensation.

If you are in a West Virginia tractor-trailer accident, or you lost a loved one in a tractor-trailer collision, seek help from an experienced tractor-trailer accident attorney as soon as possible. In West Virginia, accident victims generally have two years to file a lawsuit before their right to do so expires. Families who lose loved ones in tractor-trailer accidents generally have two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file.

Speeding Is a Factor in 25 percent of Fatal Vehicle Accidents

Part of the United Nations General Assembly’s ambitions is to halve the number of road accident fatalities by 2030. The international attention to this issue makes sense, as the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that car accidents cause approximately 1.3 million deaths each year across the globe.

Speeding leads among the causes of fatal accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), speeding played a role in 26 percent of road accident fatalities in the U.S. in one recent year. Over the past two decades, it contributed to one-third of all traffic fatalities.

Speeding is not necessarily limited to driving above the posted speed limit. It may also be traveling at an unsafe speed in light of weather and road conditions. Speeding may also be much more deliberate, such as in the case of street racing.

When a driver decides to travel at high speeds, they put themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on or near the road at a heightened risk of severe injury and death. Short of losing their lives, many accident victims sustain permanent, life-altering injuries.

Read on to learn more about the role of speeding in car accidents and how to proceed if you are a victim of a speeding accident. If you are in an accident due to another driver speeding, you should get in touch with an experienced car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.

How Common Is Speeding?

Even as dangerous as it is, speeding is very common in the United States. Data from the National Traffic Speeds Survey III reports that of a randomized sample of more than 12 million vehicles whose speed was evaluated, traffic flowed at more than the speed limit on all kinds of roads. Speeding, then, is the norm on U.S. roads.

How Does Speeding Contribute to Road Accident Fatalities?

Speeding increases the risk and potential severity of motor vehicle accidents. The masses of two vehicles at even lower rates of speed can cause significant injuries to passengers. Adding high speeds to the equation not only makes accidents more likely but increases the potential for fatal injuries.

According to a GHSA report, there is a 125 percent increase in the energy released when a vehicle collides when traveling at 60mph, compared to when it’s traveling at 40mph.

Some of the ways speeding increases the risk of death include:

1. It Increases the Likelihood of Accidents

As you increase speed, it becomes harder to maneuver alongside traffic safely, you become less predictable to other motorists, and other difficulties arise that increase the likelihood of an accident. The more you speed, the smaller the window for reacting to an accident situation. You may not realize there is slowed down or stopped traffic over a bump in the road, and slam into another car’s rear. Even if you can see an object beforehand, coming to a complete halt requires a much longer distance, proportional to the speed you are going.

2. Odds of Losing Control are Higher

In cases of speeding where it is possible to avoid a collision, a driver may still be at risk of death from losing control of their vehicle. When maneuvering your vehicle at high speeds, you have much less control. This is especially so when it comes to taking turns or evading objects on the road.

Legal and Financial Consequences of Speeding

Laws strictly prohibit speeding, and breaking such laws may result in:

1. Criminal Charges

For safety reasons, laws set speed limits on every road. It is every driver’s responsibility to stay within such speed limits. Violating speed limits may lead to civil penalties, like tickets and fines or license suspension. But breaking the speed limit at higher degrees may lead to criminal charges as well.

If a driver causes an accident that results in injuries or fatalities while speeding, they may face homicide charges.

2. Civil Lawsuits

Drivers have a civil duty to other road users to drive in a reasonably safe manner to avoid placing anyone at risk of injury or death. Violate this duty by speeding, may lead to a civil lawsuit by the victims, in which they can seek a court to award damages, or legal compensation for their accident-related expenses and impacts.

These damages in fatal speeding accident cases tend to cover:

  • Medical expenses up until the point of death
  • Funeral/cremation costs
  • Loss of companionship, for the deceased family

Ordinarily, an insurance policy is your first source of compensation. Those who cause accidents due to speeding will likely see their insurance premiums skyrocket.

Hiring a Car Accident Attorney for Your Fatal Speeding Accident Injury Case

If you have lost a loved one in a speeding accident, you can recover damages by bringing a wrongful death action. This lawsuit might not be able to bring back a loved one, but it can help with the expenses and impacts that tend to follow for a family after a fatal speeding accident.

In bringing a wrongful death action, one of the biggest favors you can do yourself is to hire an experienced speeding accident injury lawyer.

Your attorney can:

  • Investigate the accident to determine the cause of the accident, the parties responsible, and whether you have a viable claim
  • Calculate the value of your claim
  • Negotiate with insurance adjusters to reach a settlement
  • File a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf, if necessary

Vindicate Your Rights After a Fatal Speeding Accident

Losing a loved one to a speeding accident often leaves a family with lost income, emotional and mental anguish, and other significant impacts for which they should be compensated by those responsible for their loved one’s death. With the help of an experienced car accident lawyer, you can vindicate your rights under the law to hold the responsible parties accountable so you do not have to bear the full burden of the fallout from the accident.

When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

After a car accident, you might think that you can save some money by settling your accident case yourself, without going to the extra trouble and expense of hiring an attorney. Contrary to what some think, that is often not the case. In most cases, those who settle cases themselves end up leaving money on the table.

For instance, some fail to demand enough to cover their medical expenses, especially those that they will incur in cases of long-term or permanent disabilities. Relatedly, others don’t realize the full scope of the expenses and impacts for which they may demand compensation. More often than not, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney in a car accident case. Here’s why.

Why Attorneys Tend to Get More in Settlement Negotiations

Attorneys tend to get more for their car accident clients in settlement negotiations with insurance companies. Attorneys know the game, and insurance companies know that they cannot pull the wool over an attorney’s eyes, especially an attorney who has many years of experience with negotiating and litigating car accidents. They appreciate that the attorney knows the law and will call them out on any low-ball offer.

Furthermore, insurance companies know that, if pushed too far, an attorney will take the case to litigation. The insurance company does not want to litigate because it costs them more money, even if the insurance company has in-house counsel. When facing a pro se injury victim (the legal term for self-represented), an insurance company might test the limits, as many such victims will not realize the full extent of their rights, recognize a low offer, or pose a significant threat in litigation due to a lack of familiarity with the law.

Speaking to an Insurance Company Representative

While it’s best to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf, you probably should contact the insurance company to let it know that you were in a car accident as soon as possible, which may be before you’ve had a chance to retain an attorney.

When calling the insurance company, only disclose:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The other driver’s name, contact information, and policy number, if you have it
  • Your attorney’s name and contact information
  • The date and location of the accident

Insurance companies train their representatives to get you to talk and say things that harm your case. They may take something you say out of context to try to blame you for the accident and deny or minimize your claim.

Car accident lawyers know with this tactic, and will recognize if an insurance attorney is pining for an admission or disclosure of information that could harm your case, so always let the attorney give the insurance company any other information related to the accident.

When You Should Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident. The sooner you contact an attorney, the more apt you will remember what happened in the accident. Remembering as much as possible can help your lawyer understand the accident, find potentially liable parties, and preserve available evidence.

If you wait for even a month, you may forget important events that could help your case. Evidence tends to fade after time. Even the weather may erase evidence at the scene. Witnesses become harder to remember and track down for statements. In more nefarious scenarios, defendants could destroy evidence so that they can lie about what happened.

Hiring an attorney at the initial negotiation stage has the added advantage that, should you have to quit settlement negotiations and move on to litigation, your attorney is already familiar with your case and has a lot of the information they need to properly represent you in court.

Recovering Compensation in a Car Accident Case

Many car accident victims don’t realize the full extent of expenses and impacts they can demand from a defendant and their insurer. This is another good reason to let an attorney handle your case. Depending on the circumstances, you could recover a range of damages, including two types of compensatory damages and punitive damages. Keep in mind, these are just examples, and you should consult with an attorney to determine the full scope of damages to which you may recover in your case.

Compensatory Damages

You could recover two types of compensatory damages, depending on the injuries and impacts you suffered in a car accident. The court orders a defendant to pay compensatory damages in an attempt to make you whole again. While the money does not bring a loved one back or take away your injuries, it does relieve the financial stress of medical bills and loss of work and income.

The first kind of compensatory damages, typically referred to as economic damages, come with a hard monetary value.

They include:

  • Past medical expenses, to cover accident-related medical expenses incurred before a settlement or court award
  • Future medical expenses, to cover accident-related medical expenses you anticipate to incur after a settlement or a court award
  • Past lost wages, for wages you lose from being out of work due to your car accident injuries, from the time of the accident up to the settlement or court award
  • Future lost wages, for wages you will lose following a settlement or court award because accident injuries prevent you from working, or prevent you from working in a job making as much money
  • Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property
  • Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses if you lost a loved one in a car accident

General damages, usually referred to as non-economic damages, do not have an objective monetary value. The court usually orders the defendant to pay non-economic damages if your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities, or if the plaintiff is a family who lost a loved one to the car accident.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Pain and suffering and emotional distress of the accident victim
  • The emotional distress of a family who lost a loved one to the car accident
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of companionship, if a victim can longer enjoy activities and events with their family, such as playing ball with a kid or going on family camping trips
  • Loss of consortium, if a victim can no longer have a physical relationship with their spouse
  • Loss of use of a body part, such as a foot or an arm.
  • Loss of use of a bodily function, such as eyesight
  • Inconvenience, if a victim must hire someone to do chores they normally would, including grocery shopping, lawn maintenance, home maintenance, and home repairs.
  • Extra compensation for amputation.
  • Extra compensation for excessive scarring and/or disfigurement.

Punitive Damages

A court only orders punitive damages if the defendant’s actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. This award punishes the defendant and deters them and society from engaging in such egregious conduct in the future.

Only after a car accident lawyer evaluates your case will you know which damages to seek, and in what amount.

When‌ ‌Can‌ ‌I‌ ‌Recover‌ ‌Compensation‌ ‌for‌ ‌Reckless‌ ‌Driving‌ Injuries?‌

Reckless driving is a criminal offense in every state, and it often causes severe injuries, catastrophic injuries, or even death. Someone caught reckless driving could face criminal charges, fines, or imprisonment. Criminal consequences do not close off civil remedies for victims, as victims of reckless driving can sue for compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

Reckless Driving Defined

States define reckless driving differently, but generally they prohibit any driving behavior that willfully disregards the safety of people and property. This may include excessive speeding, driving under the influence, or driving while distracted. Aggressive driving, such as rapidly weaving in and out of traffic to change lanes, could also land a driver with a reckless driving charge.

Reckless Driving Penalties

If you drive recklessly on any street highway, in a parking lot, at public and private institutions of higher education, on the roads of any state institution, school, state park, or public recreation area, the police may ticket you for reckless driving.

Potential penalties from tickets for reckless driving range depending on the circumstances. However, penalties for first-time offenders often include mandatory jail sentences and a fine of hundreds of dollars. A court could also assess a fine, jail time, or both. If an accident causes serious bodily injury, a first offense could get the driver a fine of several hundred dollars several months of jail time.

Defining Serious Bodily Injury

A serious bodily injury causes long-term or permanent injuries, disfigurement, the loss of a bodily function or organ, or creates a substantial risk of death. Because a prosecutor must prove serious bodily injury to get a court to impose the corresponding criminal penalties, a prosecutor could ask a victim of a reckless driving accident to submit medical records.

Difference Between Criminal and Civil Consequences of Reckless Driving

While the state may a defendant for reckless driving, a conviction will not compensate a victim of the accident for their injuries. Those seeking to recover damages for injuries need to file a civil lawsuit or enter into negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company, or the defendant themselves if they did not have insurance at the time of the accident.

Reckless Driving Incidents and Insurance Companies

As with any accident, you should report a reckless driving accident to the insurance company as soon as possible. Each insurance company has its own rules for reporting claims, including a time limit. When you do contact the insurance company, whether it is your own or the defendant’s insurance company, only give it your contact information, the date and location of the accident, and your attorney’s contact information.

The insurance company will try to get you to talk about the accident. Refer the insurance company to your attorney. Because it is in business to make a profit, the insurance company may try to use what you say against you, in an attempt to deny your claim or offer you an unfair settlement. Reckless driving attorneys are familiar with the tactics of insurance companies and know what to say and what not to say when communicating with them.

Reckless Driving Accident Injuries

Accident injuries from a reckless driving accident range from minor to fatal, but are often more severe, especially if speeding is involved.

Injuries in reckless driving accidents may include:

  • Bumps, bruises, scratches, scrapes, and cuts.
  • Road rash.
  • Burns from chemicals and fire.
  • Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and penetrating brain injuries.
  • Simple and compound fractures.
  • Internal injuries.
  • Back and spinal cord injuries that could lead to quadriplegia, paraplegia, and paralysis.
  • Face and eye injuries.

You could also suffer from secondary injuries, such as infections. Open wounds, whether from the accident or from surgery to repair accident injuries, could become infected, especially if you have underlying conditions, including immunodeficiencies from diseases or treatments such as chemotherapy.

Recoverable Damages in Reckless Driving Case

After being injured by a reckless driver, or losing a loved one to a reckless driving accident, you could recover compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages compensate a victim for expenses and losses incurred in the accident. Punitive damages are less common, but a court may order the defendant to pay them if it finds his or her actions or inactions were grossly negligent or intentional. Of course, reckless driving might fall under this category, and victims might collect punitive damages.

There are two types of compensatory damages: Economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages have a fixed monetary value while non-economic damages do not. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make you whole again.

Economic Damages

Sometimes called special damages, economic damages may include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future lost wages. You may also collect partial future lost wages if you can still work, but your accident-caused injuries or disabilities prevent you from making what you made before the accident.
  • Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property
  • Funeral, burial, or cremation expenses

Non-Economic Damages

Sometimes called general damages, non-economic damages may include:

  • Pain and suffering, including emotional distress for those who suffered injuries in a reckless driving accident
  • Emotional distress, for those who lost a loved one in a reckless driving accident
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of companionship if you can no longer enjoy family activities and events
  • Loss of consortium if you can no longer enjoy a physical relationship with your spouse
  • Loss of use of a body part, such as an arm or a foot
  • Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight
  • Amputation of a limb, whether during the accident or because of medical necessity in surgery for treatment of accident injuries
  • Disfigurement and excessive scarring
  • Inconvenience, if you have to hire someone to do your usual chores, such as lawn maintenance, house cleaning, grocery shopping, or home repair

Which, if any, of these items can you obtain compensation for? You’ll need to speak to a car accident lawyer near you. A car accident lawyer can evaluate your claim at no cost to you, and if they accept your case, their services, too, will cost you nothing. You don’t have anything to lose.

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