Steps to Take After a Car Accident to Improve Your Claim
While Victims Fight to Recover, Attorneys Fight for their Future
While the families of car accident victims focus on recovery, an attorney should be focused on the accident investigation right away. It’s an emotional time and that makes it hard for family members to know if an insurance company is treating them fairly. A lawyer can take that burden off the family and make sure the victims get the long-term benefits that they are owed.
Insurance companies don’t make compassionate decisions. They’re focused on limiting how much money they’re obligated to pay. Serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury typically require millions of dollars over the course of a lifetime to help pay for recovery. The victim’s lawyer has to fight for the victim’s future starting right after the accident.
Preserving Evidence to Find Out What Went Wrong in a Crash
Time is the enemy in these situations. An attorney needs to get to work right away to preserve evidence from the accident scene. “What caused the accident” is the first question to answer. A defective part such as a tire that blew out could be the cause, in which case the tire and vehicle need to be stored immediately and preserved as evidence so an expert can test and inspect it. The tire blow-out may also have been caused by negligence on the part of the company that last serviced the tires. The seatbelts could have malfunctioned, which led to the the victim’s being thrown out of the vehicle.
How to Use Intersection Camera Evidence in Your Case
Getting a copy of the video or photos immediately from a red light camera takes an experienced lawyer who knows where to look for evidence and how to get it. But that’s not all. Your attorney must also know how to use this video to your best advantage during a settlement negotiation.
Never think this is an open-and-shut case. Insurance companies have teams of attorneys whose only job is to limit your compensation any way they can. If your attorney is not sophisticated enough to know how to handle that kind of pressure, then you may not end up with as good a financial settlement as possible, no matter how clear the evidence is on film.
Why We Support Red Light Cameras Even When Other Attorneys Don’t
The attorneys at Buckman and Buckman, P.A., support red light cameras at any and all intersections because our accident victims deserve clear evidence to show they were never at fault. We’ve used video and photographic evidence in many of our car accident and motorcycle accident cases, so we know what to look for.
Besides showing who did what at the scene, many times the video also gives us leads about additional witnesses to the accident, road conditions and the weather. Tracking down every little piece of evidence takes experience and legwork and it’s what we do for all of our clients, every single time we take a case.
Red Light Running Accident Investigations
Red light running is one of the most common intersection accidents and seriously hurts about 165,000 people in the U.S. each year. Often the victims hurt by a red light runner are driving through the intersection when out of nowhere another car slams into them. These types of “out of the blue” crashes tend to happen when the red light runner is also a distracted driver or an impaired driver.
An experienced car accident lawyer should know how to conduct a thorough crash investigation to show proof that the other driver was negligent. That includes knowing how red light cameras work, how the stoplights are triggered, testing the lights for timing issues, even looking for nearby store surveillance video if there’s no intersection camera. It’s all valuable evidence that can prove that your injuries were conclusively caused by the red light runner. Evidence in these cases disappears quickly after the accident, so getting an immediate start on the case is essential.
The Passenger-Driver Relationship
Most people riding in a car together have some sort of relationship; they’re friends or family or co-workers. So when a driver causes an accident, sometimes the passenger is reluctant to hire an attorney because of the friendship. That’s a big mistake.
Your lawyer is NOT going after the driver. Their job is to protect you from the insurance company. Your attorney will make sure the insurance company treats you fairly and get your medical bills paid. There’s nothing you can do to prevent the police from filing charges against the driver. That’s out of your hands. However, an attorney who is sensitive to your relationship with the driver can help make the personal injury process go smoothly. Ultimately, the goal is to get you back on your feet so you can work out your relationship with the driver.
I’m an Injured Passenger, But I Don’t Want to File an Insurance Claim Against a Friend or Family Member
If you’re injured as a passenger in a car accident it can be a confusing situation to deal with. You probably have a close relationship with the driver. Maybe they’re a friend or family member. The first thing people often say to us is, “I don’t want to sue someone who I care about.” We totally understand.
As personal injury attorneys we often help injured passengers file a claim with their own insurance company, under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Even if you don’t have your own insurance, you can still file a claim with the driver’s insurance plan. Doing this doesn’t mean you’re taking your friend or loved one to court. You’re just asking for compensation for your medical bills and injuries based on the policy that the driver has purchased. That’s what it’s there for. The driver won’t pay for any of this out of his or her pocket.
What To Do When a Passenger is Hurt in a Car Accident
- DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING until you speak with an attorney.
- If an insurance adjuster offers you a quick settlement, don’t accept it right away. After you sign off on the settlement, the insurance company won’t owe you another cent, even if your medical bills end up being higher than what they paid you.
- Don’t allow anyone to record a statement from you unless your lawyer is with you. No video or audio recordings of any kind because it can be used against you to hurt your case later on.
- Don’t blog or post anything about the accident. This could also be used against you.
What to Do Immediately After a Multiple Car Pileup
The next few days after any car or truck accident are critical to your case. There’s probably nothing more complicated than a multi-vehicle crash investigation. Don’t make a mistake that could hurt your case or destroy evidence.
Here are some tips to follow in the aftermath:
- Hire an experienced and locally based car accident lawyer immediately.
- Do NOT give a statement to your own insurance adjustor or anyone else’s car insurance company. Your insurance agent is NOT on your side.
- In the next 24-48 hours, insurance adjustors may contact you to settle your car accident injury case as soon as possible for as little as possible. They’re hoping you have not hired an attorney yet. Don’t make this mistake.
- Even if you haven’t found a personal injury lawyer to work with yet, don’t rush into any agreements with the insurance company and don’t accept their money yet. Take your time to find a lawyer you trust who can protect your rights.
- Do not sign ANYTHING unless your lawyer has read it first.
- Preserve evidence. Write down everything you remember as soon as possible. Get the names of witnesses or other accident victims around you. Save any photos you took from the accident scene.
Why the FHP Investigation Is Not Good Enough
FHP will take days or weeks conducting their investigation to figure out the cause of the pileup. That’s too long for you to wait. Your accident lawyer will begin an independent investigation into YOUR situation RIGHT NOW. That includes getting evidence from the scene, tracking down witnesses, examining skid marks, pulling cell phone records, and other investigation techniques.
Who’s Fault Is a Multi-Vehicle Accident?
Everyone and no one. Sometimes everyone involved in a massive multi-car pileup will get sued since no one really knows who is specifically to blame. It’s a tactic that many insurance companies use. Obviously one driver somehow triggered the crash that led to the pileup. But there is also a domino effect of blame and liability that trickles down to almost all the drivers involved.
Often FHP or the insurance adjustors place a percentage of blame on each victim of the accident. That’s not always fair or accurate. It’s another reason why you need a lawyer to help you protect your rights.
Hiring a Lawyer
Drake Buckman and Amiee Buckman are a team of experienced local trial lawyers who focus on helping people hurt in car accidents. They work directly with clients one on one, never through a paralegal. The Buckman’s offer free case evaluations and work exclusively on a contingency basis for accident cases. That means you only pay for their legal services if they win or settle your case. Please contact our offices for a case review by calling (941) 923-7700. You will always reach one of us, during the week and on weekends. Or contact us by filling out our online form.
See Your Doctor Right Away After a Car Accident
Once an accident happens, the stopwatch for getting medical treatment starts ticking. The longer you wait, the worse it will be for you case. If you can’t afford to see a doctor or if you don’t have health insurance, you still need to get treatment somehow.
Amiee Buckman and Drake Buckman have helped struggling clients get medical treatment from highly respected doctors and surgeons in Sarasota and Manatee. If you’re hurt and don’t see a doctor right away, the insurance company could claim you’re not badly injured since you didn’t seek treatment. That might limit how much health coverage you can get to help pay for your medical bills.
What Your Doctor and Lawyer Have in Common When You’re in a Car or Motorcycle Accident
Most clients we see at our law firm, particularly those involved in car accident and motorcycle cases, have injured their backs or necks. Surprisingly, these kinds of injuries often do not develop symptoms until days or even weeks after an accident.
Our clients have told us that they felt fine during the accident, and then, suddenly, they begin to feel worse and worse as the days go by, until finally they have trouble even getting out of bed in the morning. This is normal. It’s also why you should get immediate medical treatment AND legal advice following a crash, even if you don’t have immediate symptoms.
Your body will do everything it can to try and heal itself. The fact is, though, that when you are dealing with your neck or spine, you need professional help. Buckman and Buckman, P.A., has partnered with some of the best orthopaedic (spine) doctors, neurologists and chiropractors in Florida to help you, our client, receive the best medical evaluation and treatment available, regardless of whether you have health insurance or not.
When you are in a car or motorcycle accident, even a minor one, thousands of pounds of pressure are absorbed by the spine upon impact, causing internal chaos. The individual bones of the spine (called vertebrae) are stacked on top of each other in an exact pattern. In between these vertebrae are small discs, filled with fluid. These discs resemble small jelly donuts, or soft hockey pucks, and their job is to keep the vertebrae working together without grinding into each other as you move, breathe, bend over, sit at your desk or play with your children. It is a miraculous and elegant structure, supported by hundreds of muscles, tendons, nerves and cartilage.
However, the spine is not designed to withstand the tremendous forces that an accident produces. Upon impact, the spine and neck are violently rotated and overextended. The discs absorb the shock, causing them to bulge from between the vertebrae. Often, they bulge into the spinal cord, a small tube running next to the spine which contains all of the nerve connections between your brain and your body.
Sometimes, these bulging discs will return to normal by themselves over a period of months. Left untreated, however, most of the time these discs will continue to press upon the spinal cord, causing numbness, tingling, chronic pain and fatigue. The injured discs can remain bulged out and lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae, causing more pain in other parts of the spine which have to pick up the slack.
Because so much can go wrong when dealing with your spine, it’s important that you get an accurate diagnosis. Contact Buckman and Buckman, P.A., if you need a referral to one of the area’s best medical experts.
Accidents Involving Commercial Trucks
Accidents involving semis, trucks or other large commercial vehicles can be deadly. Trucking companies and truck drivers are regulated by state and federal laws to keep you safe. Learn more about these regulations and what to do if you are involved in a serious accident with a truck here.
Buckman and Buckman, P.A., have represented truck accident victims in Sarasota and the surrounding counties for years. Our experienced lawyers are available to review every aspect of your case free by calling (941) 923-7700 or by filling out our contact form. When you call, expect to speak directly with an attorney about your case, not a paralegal.