Car Accident FAQs
What should I do if I have been injured in a car accident?
No matter how slight the injury may seem, it is extremely important to seek professional medical help. Some injuries, such as concussions or internal bleeding, may not be apparent right away after an injury, so it is vital to have a proper medical examination.
In addition to preventing further medical complications, seeing a doctor right away will help your personal injury case. It is very helpful to have detailed medical records from right after the accident, and seeking medical attention immediately will help to show that your injuries were serious.
If I have been hurt in a car accident, who will pay for my treatment?
The person responsible for the accident (or his or her insurance company) will be responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle and your medical treatment. In some cases, your personal insurance carrier will also be involved in paying your medical claims.
Where should I take my car to get it repaired?
It is up to you to decide where to take your car for repairs. Do not allow insurance companies to bully you into thinking you must take your car to the shop offering the lowest bid; you are entitled to have your car repaired to the same condition it was in before the accident.
Do I need a lawyer?
It is highly beneficial to get a legal opinion on your rights and responsibilities as pertaining to the accident. It is in your best interest to have a knowledgeable attorney review the facts of your case before deciding what course of action to pursue—especially if the other driver’s insurance company is offering you a settlement.
An experienced car accident attorney can recommend appropriate medical treatment, negotiate a replacement car, and negotiate a fair and full settlement with the insurance company. This settlement should take into account all of your damages, including your pain and suffering, and having a respected personal injury attorney on your case will spur the insurance company to take your claim much more seriously.
What will this cost me?
In a personal injury case, your attorney is only paid if your claim is successful. Under this model, the attorney’s fee is simply a percentage of your damage award. If you are awarded nothing, you will not have to pay your attorney anything.
Keep in mind that using an experienced attorney can actually increase the amount of financial compensation you receive in a civil lawsuit, so even after the attorney’s fee is paid, you will have more money in your pocket than if you attempted to represent yourself.
What do I do with all the medical and car repair bills that come in after the accident?
Talk to your attorney about the bills. He or she can negotiate to have them paid by the insurance company directly, or in other cases, have them postponed until after your case has been resolved. Don’t let the bills worry you.
What if the accident was caused by a defective car part?
Automakers and parts manufacturers have a responsibility to supply the public with safe and effective cars, trucks, motorcycles, and ATVs. If a vehicle defect resulted in or exacerbated your injuries, you have every right to seek full compensation.
Instead of filing a lawsuit against another driver, in this case, you would file a lawsuit against the company responsible for the defective part. These cases fall under the umbrella of premises liability, in which manufacturers, designers, distributors, suppliers, and even retailers can be held liable for putting unsafe products on the market.
Keep in mind that product liability lawsuits are often complex and difficult to litigate—but that is not to say it can’t be done. Corporations maintain high-priced legal teams to fight defective products claims, so defective products cases must be handled carefully by an experienced personal injury attorney.
When should I file my lawsuit?
There is a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases in New Jersey. In other words, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Failure to file a claim within two years means you will forfeit your right to compensation for your injuries.
With this in mind, it is important to contact a knowledgeable attorney right away, especially if the case involves defective car parts. Corporate attorneys and insurance companies aggressively fight products liability cases because a successful case can open up the door for similar cases and cost the seller a large sum of money. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced products liability attorney who can obtain engineering reports, develop models or graphics of the product, take detailed statements from witnesses or government representatives, and thoroughly investigate your claim.
Even if the claim does not involve defective car parts, it is in your best interest to be proactive. The sooner your attorney can start on the case, the better chance he or she will have of preserving important evidence and mounting a successful case.
Will I have to go to court?
The vast majority of car accident claims never see trial. Claims are usually put to rest in settlement negotiations or negotiations with insurance adjusters before a court date is ever scheduled.
However, sometimes it is necessary to take a car accident claim all the way through the court process. Perhaps the two parties can’t agree on the exact cause of the accident, or maybe they cannot agree on what constitutes “fair compensation” for the victim’s injuries.
Regardless of whether or not your case goes to court, it is important to hire an attorney who has true trial experience. This will give you a stronger position at the negotiating table because the insurance adjuster or opposing attorney knows that you are ready and willing to take the case to court if you are not offered a fair settlement.