Q. What should I do if I'm injured in an automobile accident?
A. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical documentation can be very important later on even if your injuries seem minor now. Additionally, keep a log of your medical conditions and the problems they are causing you.
Q. What information do I need if I am involved in an automobile accident?
A. Get the name, address, telephone number and automobile insurance information from the other driver(s). Also, get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Make notes of statements made by the other driver or occupants of the other vehicle about how the accident occurred. Take photographs of any damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle. Make sure that a police officer is at the scene to write a report and take down additional information.
Q. Should I move my vehicle?
A. Unless your vehicle is creating the potential for another accident, do not move it or the accident debris until you are instructed to do so by the investigating police officer.
Q. Is it okay to talk about the accident?
A. Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than the investigating police officer, your doctors, and your lawyer. Insurance representatives are the LAST people you want to talk to. It is okay to talk to them, after your lawyer has properly counseled you.
Q. Do I need a lawyer?
A. For cases involving anything more than a minor injury, I highly advise you obtain an attorney. Insurance companies are not your friends, and they will not take care of you. Often, claims adjusters are lawyers, so you are unevenly matched right from the start. A lawyer will help you obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries, including all of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Insurance representatives are only looking out for their company, and they will not tell you about your rights, nor will they give you a fair offer. A lawyer has the ability to file a lawsuit and expose the insurance company to additional expense and to a possible payout for damages which might be more than they'd settle for earlier. Using an experienced lawyer can actually increase the amount of money you will be paid to compensate you for the accident, so that even after the lawyer's fee is paid you will have more money in your pocket than if you attempted to represent yourself. An experienced lawyer knows what you are entitled to receive as compensation. Having an experienced lawyer on your side, representing only you, tells the insurance company that you are serious about protecting your rights. They know better than to misrepresent their obligations or tell you that you have to take whatever they offer. Peace of mind from knowing your interests are being protected allows you to get back to your life with as few delays as possible and with a settlement that fairly compensates you for the accident.
Q. How does a lawyer charge for personal injury cases?
A. Most lawyers take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. Normally, the lawyer takes a fee of one-third out of the settlement, or higher, if the matter goes to court and a verdict is obtained in the case. We charge forty percent if the matter goes to trial.
Q. Does fault matter?
A. The issue of fault is always important. If the collision was not your fault, you should be compensated. In both Maryland and Virginia, laws in these matters focus on fault, and provide that if a party was partially responsible for an accident, he or she cannot recover against the other party, even if that party was mostly at fault. In cases where our potential client was partially, or even fully at fault, we determine if they have coverages called PIP or MEDPAY on their own insurance policies, and advise them on how to recover these benefits.
Q. The person who hit me has no insurance coverage. What do I do?
A. Report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance policy most certainly has what is called "uninsured motorist" coverage, which protects you in cases exactly like this. Your premium, by the way, does not and cannot go up because you make a "UM" claim.
Q. Can I get a rental car?
Q. What will I get for my car?
A. You will get the amount of money necessary to repair your car to the condition it was in before the accident. If the car is a "total loss" you would then be offered the amount the car was worth, based on industry price-settings guides (like KBB), and the car would not be repaired.
Q. If I have been hurt, who will pay for my treatment?
A. The person who cause the accident, or his or her insurance company, is responsible for paying for your treatment. Your insurance carrier may also be involved in paying your medical claims in some cases. This does not, however, relieve the at-fault party from paying for all of these bills. In cases like these, there is a "double" payment, and it is perfectly correct, and legal. The "at-fault" party pays because they caused the injury, and your company pays because you paid premiums for them to do so!
Q. Does the insurance company pick the doctor I have to see?
A. No. You can use your own doctor. No one can tell you what doctor you may use.
Q. What do I do if I have to take time off from work?
A. Keep a record of the time you miss from work, even if you still get paid because you use sick time or vacation. Keep track of the amount of money you lose by not being able to work. All this time you cannot work has to be paid by the person who caused the accident.
Q. How do you know what pain and suffering is worth?
A. Pain and suffering evaluations are subjective and are based on similar cases, and a lawyer's experience and knowledge of the community.
If you have another question, not listed here, do not hesitate to call us, we are always happy and willing to help!
The Law Offices of Paul Samakow