Everything You Need to Know About Car Accidents
If another driver’s negligence leaves you injured in a car accident, knowing what to do to help ensure that you obtain the compensation you need to reach your fullest recovery is paramount, but this can feel like a stretch. Having all the information you need at your fingertips can help you make the right decisions early on to help protect your rights, your rightful compensation, and your health and well-being.
Car Accidents Are Often the Direct Result of Driver Negligence
Unfortunately, there are far too many negligent drivers out there, and driver negligence comes in far too many dangerous varieties.
You know that drinking and driving is a life-threatening combination, and you are careful to make sure that you do not drive impaired, but some motorists are not as conscientious regarding their own and everyone else’s safety on the road. The consumption of alcohol leads to physical, cognitive, and even sensory (vision) impairments that make driving safely out of the realm of possibility, and when you add in all the following dangers, it helps to ensure that drunk drivers are some of the deadliest drivers out there:
Alcohol decreases motorists’ inhibitions.
Alcohol weakens motorists’ impulse control.
Alcohol plays a prominent role in far too many fatal traffic accident statistics.
Speed plays such a critical role in traffic safety that every road has a posted speed limit. These speed limits, however, are set for optimal driving conditions. Motorists are also responsible for scaling their speed back in relation to all the following:
The dangerous effects of bad weather
Poorly maintained roads
Heavy and erratic traffic
Traffic accidents on the road
Excess speed has the singular distinction of making accidents more likely and of making them more deadly. When motorists have too much speed behind them, they have less time and less space on the road to react safely to dangers ahead, and they help to ensure that any ensuing accidents will be deadly.
Distraction is becoming a more significant problem on our highways and byways, and smartphone usage is one of the reigning distractions out there. When a driver allows his or her attention to stray from the job of driving safely, he or she puts everyone on the road at increased danger, including pedestrians and bicyclists. When it comes to dangerous distractions, texting has it all over other distractions. In the five seconds that it takes to type or read a text (on average), a motorist who is up to highway speeds travels about the distance of a football field, which takes dangerous distractions too far. Further, texting manages to incorporate all three categories of distraction into one blowout distraction that leaves our roads more deadly. These categories include:
Distractions that involve our hands, which we use to send out and receive texts
Distractions that involve our thoughts, which we use to compose and comprehend texts
Distractions that involve our vision, which we use throughout the testing process
We all recognize the feeling that overcomes us when we have too little sleep. While this is not a problem when it is nap time, it is a problem when the sleep-deprived person is behind the wheel. Drowsy drivers suffer physical and cognitive impairments that are not unlike those experienced by drunk drivers, and that is a frightening thought. When a motorist nods off behind the wheel, which does happen, it takes dangerous driving to entirely new levels.
Driver negligence is always dangerous, but when it reaches the level of aggressive driving, things become terrifying. Aggressive drivers do not take the responsibility of driving safely seriously and, instead, indulge every dangerous whim they have behind the wheel. While the hallmark of aggressive driving is speeding crazily, there is often more to it than that, and aggressive drivers tend to engage in more than one dangerous practice at any given time, including:
Attempting to engage other drivers in dangerous interactions by honking incessantly, hurling invectives, using obscene gestures, flashing headlights, and even physically tapping other vehicles
Ignoring traffic lights, signs, and signals
Blasting through road construction
Refusing to yield the right-of-way
Streaking in and out of traffic
When you spot a dangerously aggressive driver on the road, alerting the authorities when it is safe to do so is your best option, and it could help prevent a life-threatening accident.
Your Car Accident Claim and Damages
If you are harmed by another driver’s negligence, you will need to file your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. It is imperative that this claim carefully address your damages in their entirety in order to support your fullest recovery. In addition to property damage to your vehicle, these damages are likely to include:
Your medical costs
Your lost wages
Your pain and suffering
Your Medical Costs
The medical costs associated with serious car accidents tend to be exceptionally high, and because your healthcare needs are likely to be ongoing, obtaining an accurate assessment of your damages can be complicated. Serious injuries are closely associated with secondary health issues that require medical attention of their own, which can make the matter that much more challenging. Common medical expenses include:
Emergency care at the scene of the car accident and emergency transportation from the scene
Surgical care and follow-up attention
Medical treatment, care, and testing
The care and attention of doctors, medical specialists, and other medical professionals
Physical and occupational therapy
Home health care
Adaptive physical devices and home adaptations
Your Lost Earnings
While you are pursuing your physical recovery, you can expect to be off the job, and this will very likely translate to lost earnings. What is more, if your ability to do your job is adversely affected, you could be facing lost earning potential in addition to your career path taking a hit. This is not only financially devastating but can also be emotionally scarring, given the significant roles that our chosen careers often play in our lives.
Your Pain and Suffering
Another important component of your damages is the pain and suffering you endure. While these emotional consequences can be more difficult to quantify, they are just as real as your more concrete damages and can be even more difficult to overcome.
Protecting the Strength of Your Claim
You have been harmed by another driver’s negligence, and while this puts you at an immense disadvantage, there are some things you can do to help protect the strength of your claim from the outset.
Attend to the Business at Hand
There are some basic steps that every motorist must take in a car accident situation (as applicable and according to your ability at the time), including:
Pull as far off the road or out of the path of traffic as possible
Render whatever aid you can
Accept medical attention when emergency medical professionals arrive on the scene, and if it is not offered, seek the medical attention that you need as soon after the accident as possible
Gather Evidence at the Scene
If you are able, consider gathering evidence at the scene, which can prove invaluable to your claim (after all, that evidence is swept away and forgotten in the aftermath of the accident). Consider the following:
Snap photos of the crash, the vehicles involved, and any extenuating circumstances from every conceivable angle and from every perspective (close up, midrange, and from a distance) – there is no such thing as too many pictures, and you never know which ones will prove the most useful in the end
Record eyewitness testimony (and contact information) – keeping these memories fresh and locking them in early is critical
Jot down your own recollections about how the accident happened and your own take on the matter (your own memories can also become hazy in the aftermath of the accident and the hubbub that ensues)
Think about Your Car Accident Claim
After being injured in a car accident, your adrenaline spikes, and you may be in shock, which can even mask the pain that you might be feeling. As such, there are some basic points to keep in mind. First, the insurance company is going to be very interested in finding out what you had to say at the scene, which is a very good reason for remaining silent (unless asked questions directly by an attending officer). Even an innocent and heartfelt I’m sorry that reflects how sorry you are that the accident happened can be twisted into your total acceptance of all fault in the matter, which makes keeping your thoughts to yourself an excellent idea. Another important thought to keep in mind is that giving social media a pass while your car accident claim is pending is likely to be in your best interest. Again, the insurance company is looking for posts that it can use to diminish the veracity of your claim, and it cannot make something out of nothing.
Think about Your Health
Your most critical concern after a car accident has to be your own health, which makes obtaining the medical care and attention you need as soon after the accident as possible paramount. Even if you do not think you have been seriously injured, it is important to recognize that very serious injuries can be masked by the shock and surging adrenaline you experience post-accident. Further, some symptoms are slow to present, which can lull you into a false sense of security – while your injuries become more serious and more difficult to treat effectively. Because early diagnosis is so closely associated with favorable outcomes, it is always in your best interest to seek medical attention after a car accident of any significance.
The Insurance Company
The insurance company handling your claim is paid to compensate you, but this fact is tempered by its commitment to profits. This means that obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled and that you need to achieve your fullest recovery is unlikely to be a straightforward process. As such, be on the lookout for any antics the insurance company may get up to.
If the insurance company denies your claim out of hand, it is discouraging, but you should not take it as the final word on the matter. Discuss the issue with your dedicated car accident attorney, and if he or she believes in your claim, continue moving forward. Ultimately, it is not the insurance company’s decision – resolving your claim will become a matter of law if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith.
Early Settlement Offer
While an early settlement offer may seem hopeful, it is likely an attempt to lock you into an amount that is far too low to cover the full extent of your damages when you are too desperate to think it through carefully (and before you are even completely aware of the full extent of those damages).
Shift in Fault
Another tactic many insurance companies will engage in is attempting to shift fault away from the policyholder and toward the injured claimant, which can feel like a real affront. While this approach may be insulting, it has no bearing on the truth of the matter, which your car accident attorney will be sure to make clear. Finally, in the State of Texas, even if you are found to share some of the fault for the car accident that leaves you injured, this does not take away your right to seek the percentage of compensation that the other driver bears responsibility for (as long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible).
An Experienced Killeen Car Accident Attorney Is Standing by to Help
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is an experienced car accident attorney who takes great pride in helping clients like you obtain just compensation that allows them to pursue their most complete recoveries. Your claim is important, so please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.