Some of the most commonly asked questions about personal injury cases are answered below:
I Was Injured in An Accident. Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
YES! If you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you should not hesitate to hire a personal injury attorney. Most personal injury attorneys will handle your injury claim free of charge until there is a successful resolution of the claim. In the case of an automobile accident, the negligent driver’s insurance company will have an adjuster contact you as soon as possible following the accident to obtain a recorded statement. There have even been cases of adjusters showing up at the hospital to obtain recorded statements from injured parties. The insurance companies responsible for paying compensation for injuries want to obtain a statement before the injured party is able to fully understand the extent of their injuries. They do this in order to later deny the injured party’s claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will deal with the insurance company on your behalf, ensuring that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
Should I Give a Statement to The Insurance Company?
NO! Insurance companies can afford the countless advertisements we see on television only because they train their adjusters how to minimize and deny injury claims. The more injury claims an insurance company can deny, the more profit they will have to spend on advertisements. Of course, their advertisements are meant to convince us that they want to help claimants and pay claims. Insurance companies want to take your statement early in the claims process so they can later use it against you to deny your claim. Several injuries may not be apparent immediately following an accident. So, if after an accident you tell an insurance adjuster that you did not have any head injuries, only later to find out you are suffering from post-concussive syndrome, the insurance adjuster will try to deny your claim based on your recorded statement. Bottom line: hire an experienced personal injury attorney right away to help maximize your benefits.
What Should I Do Following an Automobile Accident?
Gather as much information as possible and, if you are injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.
What About Accidents Involving Commercial Semi Trucks?
Accidents involving commercial trucks often cause more serious injuries due to the size of the trucks. Commercial truck cases are also much more complex due to the extensive federal regulatory framework within which commercial truck drivers and carriers are required to operate. Pursuing an injury claim resulting from an accident caused by a commercial truck driver requires the expertise of a personal injury attorney. There are countless regulations that commercial truck drivers and carriers must follow in order to decrease the likelihood of serious injury or death that can result from a commercial truck accident. An experienced personal injury attorney will investigate the facts of the accident to determine if any of these regulations have been violated. Most drivers and carriers do not take the time to train on the many regulations that govern their conduct. As a result, individuals injured by the negligence of a commercial truck driver or carrier can often recover punitive damages for the trucking company’s failure to comply with federal regulations.
What About Accidents Caused by A Drunk Driver?
When a drunk driver causes an accident resulting in injuries, the injured driver can usually recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to make the injured party “whole” by compensating him or her for medical bills, lost income, changes in quality of life, and pain and suffering. In other words, compensatory damages compensate the injured party for what was taken from him or her as the result of the other driver’s negligence.
Punitive damages, on the other hand, are awarded to the injured party as a form of punishment to the negligent driver for the bad behavior leading to the injuries.
What About Accidents Caused by A Driver Using a Cell Phone, A.K.A. “distracted Driving”?
dis·tract·ed driv·ing: the practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity, typically one that involves the use of a cellular phone or other electronic device.
Increased reliance on electronic mobile devices has led to a rise in automobile accidents resulting from “distracted driving.” In 2014 alone, 3,179 people died in distracted driving accidents, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) criteria. Skeptics believe the number may be much higher. For instance, the National Safety Council works with people who lost loved ones in crashes that involved driver cell phone use. During conversations with the families, an alarming pattern emerged: For many, the crash reports did not reflect the drivers’ cell phone use although cell phone involvement was apparent. The National Safety Council ultimately concluded that “There is strong evidence to support that under-reporting of driver cell phone use in crashes is resulting in a substantial under-estimation of the magnitude of this public safety threat.”
One of the first steps of any car accident injury case is to determine whether the negligent driver was using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Occasionally, this information will be contained in the accident report or from statements taken from witnesses of the accident. More often, however, this information can only be obtained by requesting the negligent driver’s phone records through a business records subpoena.
Evidence of the negligent driver’s cell phone use at the time of the accident can greatly increase the value of the injured party’s claim because courts, in an effort to curb the epidemic of distracted driving, have started awarding punitive damages to injury victims.
What Are Personal Injury Protection “pip” Benefits?
PIP is a mandatory part of every automobile insurance policy in Kansas.
Am I Entitled to Personal Injury Protection Benefits if I Have Been Injured in An Auto Accident?
YES. Kansas is a no-fault state. This means that you are entitled to “Personal Injury Protection” (“PIP”) benefits anytime you are injured in a car accident. Usually, PIP benefits will be paid by the injured party’s insurance company, no questions asked. When the injury claim is resolved, the insurance company that provided the PIP benefits will be entitled to recoup a portion of the proceeds paid in PIP benefits. This is referred to as subrogation.
What Is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Do I Need It?
Unfortunately, a lot of drivers opt for the State’s minimum liability coverage, which provides for a maximum of $25,000 in compensation for an individual injured as a result of a negligent driver. This is usually insufficient to cover the cost of health care, let alone compensate the injured party for lost wages, lost time, permanent disfigurement, or pain and suffering. In this situation, the injured party would turn to their own insurance company and make a claim for underinsured motorist benefits (“UIM”). UIM is relatively inexpensive and can be a godsend when injured by a negligent driver with the state’s minimum liability coverage. We highly recommend purchasing UIM. Uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”) acts the same way as UIM but is intended for situations in which the negligent driver has no insurance.
How Long Does a Car Accident Injury Claim Take to Resolve?
IT DEPENDS. A car accident injury claim can take as long as 3 and a half years to resolve or as short as two months. The two factors that matter the most are (1) the extent of injuries and (2) the amount of liability coverage available.
How Common Are Trucking Accidents?
The U.S. Department of Transportation concluded, after a collection of data in 2012, that large trucks accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 3 percent of all vehicles in injury and property-damage-only crashes. In 2012, 333,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes in the United States.
A similar report was released after a collection of data in 2017, but it focused primarily on collisions resulting in fatalities. To view that report, click here.
To learn about the top causes of trucking accidents, check out part one of our blog series.
How Is Fault Determined in A Truck Accident?
Determining fault requires thorough investigation of the facts surrounding the accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will examine all of the details, including investigation of the truck driver that caused your injuries and the trucking company the driver works for. Trucking companies must follow specific standards and safety regulations. An experienced truck accident attorney would have a vast knowledge of all of these regulations to make your case against the trucking company as strong as possible.
What Should I Do if The Trucking Company Calls Me?
Do not make any recorded statements regarding the incident. If you are contacted by the trucking company, it’s best to politely refuse to speak with them and direct them to your attorney. You also should not sign anything they may send to you. Your truck accident attorney should handle all correspondence with the trucking company, as well as their insurance provider.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
After reporting the accident and swapping insurance information with the truck driver who collided with you, you should seek medical attention for your injuries. Even if you are not feeling any aches or pains right away, it’s important to get treated for any underlying injuries that may cause pain later on.
If at all possible, get pictures of the scene of the accident. Photographs of the damage can be useful in your personal injury accident case. Pictures of your injuries are great too, especially if they clearly show the significance of the damage done to your body.
Seeking help from a trucking accident attorney is the final step in your process. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later, as time is of the essence in gathering witness accounts and collecting police camera footage. The more time that passes, the harder it can be to recover these things. Biesterveld & Crook, LLC offers free consultations to all victims of trucking accidents. Call or click here to schedule your consultation today!