What are the first steps I should take after an accident?

When you are involved in a car collision, it is important that you immediately or as soon as possible have your car examined for any defects in the car. There might be something wrong with your car that you don't know about because of this collision that could create greater danger, greater exposure to your own safety.

There are a couple different paths to take to get your car fixed. In any motor collision case, you have to inform your insurance company of the accident. It is easiest and cleanest to first go through your own insurance company, and they can do the heavy lifting of going after the other individual's insurance company to get reimbursed and to get your deductible reimbursed. Sometimes people have a problem paying their initial deductible. In that situation, we work very hard to try to get the other party to take responsibility and to pay the money as quickly as possible. So there are really two different routes depending on each individual potential client's situation and their desires.

Typically in an auto accident, the car repair costs are going to get covered by either your own insurance company or the other parties' insurance company. It is really going to be driven by which insurance companies are you dealing with and what kind of insurance do you have and what your deductible is.

If your car is totaled out, you end up being in a very difficult spot. You are never going to get full value for the value of your car when it gets totaled out. The insurance companies use blue book value, they will also pull some advertisements to show what different cars are selling, but it never properly reimburses you for the value of your car. You are not entitled to a jury trial over the value of your car, you are only entitled to arbitration. Arbitrations are very difficult to win. You just have an individual, one person making the decision on the value of your car and it is rarely worth the cost and time of fighting over that.

An individual who has been injured in an auto accident is entitled to receive damages for both non-economic and economic injuries. The economic injuries would be things like medical bills, both past and future, lost wages. Anything that you can put a hard number that is a loss, a damage. The non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify because there is not a hard number that attaches to each one. This is where it is important to know the individual's story. Know who they were before the accident and how the accident has changed them after. And the non-economic damages are one of those things that are very difficult for people to articulate and difficult for people to understand and appreciate who haven't been involved in an injury case. But it is one of the things we work really hard on in learning the client's story and learning how this accident has affected them and explaining to a jury or an adjuster or whoever we have to, why this case is different than the other hundred cases they are dealing with. Why this case's non-economic value so high.

When a person can get compensated after an auto accident is largely determined by how serious their injuries are. We don't want to resolve a case until we have a real good idea that the injuries someone has suffered are what we called permanent and stationary or at least we know what these injuries are going to look like when they are permanent and stationary. You can't properly evaluate a case until you know how bad the accident has affected the client. So it could be anywhere from four months to four years.

If you are hit by an uninsured driver, don't panic. We take a look at your insurance policy, and when you look at your insurance policy, most policies carry a section that says uninsured or underinsured coverage. The first place you look is there to make sure that you have underinsured or uninsured coverage and to see what the amount is, to see if it is something that is actually going to help you or something that is just barely going to get you by.