Important Questions to Ask After a Car Accident
Important Questions to Ask After a Car Accident
ARE PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS EXPENSIVE?
After suffering injuries in an accident, researching options for how you might recover physically and financially can be especially prudent. As you dive into your quest for answers, a list of personal injury lawyers may cloud your judgement. With so many options, how are you supposed to know where to even start? Here at Sweet James, we want you to be aware of the important questions to ask after a car accident.
Many people are under the impression that personal injury lawyers are expensive. This results all too often in accident victims thinking they can’t afford a lawyer. Don’t be too quick to drop the idea of enlisting representation—you’ll be happy to hear hiring a skilled accident attorney can cost you nothing.
HOW MUCH DOES A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER COST?
It’s almost instinctive to consider the price of hiring a lawyer. That’s okay. Fortunately, most personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee. This means your attorney will be paid a percentage of your final settlement.
Working under this agreement gives your attorney an incentive to fight harder in order to obtain the maximum amount.
At Sweet James, we believe you shouldn’t be held responsible for your costly medical bills and other inconveniences. If your injuries are due to the carelessness of another individual, you shouldn’t have to pursue your accident claim alone.
If you’re considering hiring an injury lawyer, the next step is finding the right one for you.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD INJURY ATTORNEY?
It’s a good idea to shop around for the right personal injury lawyer before deciding right off the bat. Take advantage of law firms who offer free case reviews over the phone. These consultations can point your claim in the right direction and help you see which injury law firm fits you best.
Some positive traits to expect from a quality firm include:
- Responsive – They are easily reachable and take the time to answer all your questions.
- Knowledgeable – An experienced attorney will be able to explain information in a way that’s easy to understand and outlines your options.
- Reviews – Reviews are a great reflection of how a firm treats their clients. Check Yelp.com or Avvo.com for a better idea of who you may be hiring.
You’re already strengthening your case by doing the research. The next step is finding what can be done for your specific claim. At Sweet James, we speak with accident victims day in and day out. Our skilled injury attorneys understand it’s not easy navigating the aftermath of an accident on your own.
DO I NEED TO FILL OUT AN SR-19 AFTER YOUR AUTO ACCIDENT?
Knowing what steps to take immediately following an accident can be stressful, especially if you have suffered an injury. Being properly equipped with the knowledge of how to move forward will help restore your quality of life.
This includes knowing what paperwork to file with the DMV. Filling out the right documents will offset any unexpected consequences following an auto accident and ensure you are compensated fairly.
There are two primary forms to fill out after an auto accident. The first of these is an SR-1 form or Report of Traffic Accident. The second form is an SR-19 or Financial Responsibility Information Request.
FILLING OUT AN SR-19 FORM
An SR-1 form must be filled out if:
- An auto collision results in property damage of $750 or more
- The collision results in bodily harm or death
- Whether the other driver has auto insurance
- The other driver’s insurance coverage
Important to note: An SR-19 Financial Responsibility Information Request cannot be filed if your SR-1 is not submitted within the first 10 days of an accident.
An accident attorney can help you find the SR-1 and SR-19 forms on your local DMV website. At Sweet James, our personal injury lawyers will even submit the proper paperwork on your behalf.
DO I NEED TO FILL OUT AN SR-19?
You are not required to fill out an SR-19 form. However, if your accident attorney has your best interests in mind, they will recommend you do so.
An SR-19 strengthens your auto accident claim by:
- Holding the insurance company accountable
- Determining liability
- Streamlining the process of receiving compensation
Filling out an SR-19 carries all of the benefits that come with due diligence. Our experienced team will take the stress off your hands and take on these responsibilities. This allows you to focus on the most important thing after an auto accident, your health.
MY CAR WAS IMPOUNDED AFTER AN ACCIDENT. WHAT DO I DO?
Whenever there is a traffic accident, emergency services will try to clear the road of any wreckage as quickly as possible. If your vehicle is involved in the crash and becomes inoperable, it will most likely be taken to an impound lot. This isn’t a way to punish you, but rather an effort to keep the roads safe for other drivers.
So, what do you do if your car is towed? Learn how to deal with the towing company and understand the signs of an untrustworthy hauling operator.
THE TOWING COMPANY
After an accident, a tow truck will move your damaged vehicle to either their storage lot or a repair shop of your choice.
If your vehicle is taken to a storage lot:
- Remove your car from the storage lot as soon as possible- the longer your car is there, the more storage fees add up
- Pay fees as soon as possible- failure to do so can result in losing possession of your car
Even if you are not liable for the accident, insurance companies expect you to move your car as soon as possible. Doing so will help you mitigate damages and get properly reimbursed.
Utilizing a towing company through your own insurance provider can help reduce financial risk by:
- Covering the cost of labor and repairs on your vehicle
- Providing reimbursement for towing expenses
UNTRUSTWORTHY TOWING COMPANIES
As with anything, some towing companies are untrustworthy. The National Insurance Crime Bureau suggests the following to prevent you from being involved in a costly towing experience:
- Never give an unsolicited tow truck operator permission to tow
- Follow police instructions for being towed
- Do not provide tow truck operators with your insurance information
- Ask the tow truck operator for company identification
- If a towing operator’s legitimacy is in doubt, speak to the police
CAN MY CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM COVER PROPERTY DAMAGE?
When you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, pursuing a personal injury claim will help compensate you for your injuries. However, property damage caused by the accident will also need to be dealt with. Without a functioning car, it will be difficult to get to work, drop off the kids, or run errands. You deserve compensation to make things right.
WILL INSURANCE PAY FOR MY DAMAGED VEHICLE?
Coverage for your vehicle’s property damage is dependent on the insurance company and what caused the accident. In some cases, an insurance company will cover the cost of damages. In others, an insurance adjuster may drag out your claim and leave you in the dark.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will help navigate the various scenarios you face after your accident:
- Liability coverage – If you are deemed at fault for the car accident, liability coverage protects you from paying out of pocket for the other party’s injuries or property damage.
- Filing a property damage claim – In most cases, you will file a property damage claim through the negligent party’s insurance. If you file through your insurance and the other party is deemed at-fault, you will be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket deductible expenses.
- No insurance – If the liable driver has no insurance, you can pursue compensation for your property damage through your insurance using your uninsured property damage or collision coverage.
The aftermath of an auto collision can be just as unpredictable as the accident itself. Trying to pursue a claim with insurance adjusters on your own can be a nightmare. Their focus is to provide you with a low-value settlement, not relief after an accident.
At Sweet James, we won’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. We will fight until you are given the compensation you deserve.
HOW MUCH WILL I GET FOR MY PROPERTY DAMAGE?
People generally have very little negotiating power with the insurance company when it comes to property damage. Providing photographs of what your vehicle looks like after the accident and submitting copies of recent car repair receipts will give your claim the support it needs.
Every car insurance policy outlines the maximum the company will pay out for property damage. In most cases, this money is enough to cover the repairs.
HOW DO I PROVE LOST WAGES AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
Recovering from a personal injury accident can take up a lot of time. It may take a toll on your work hours. A reduced paycheck can mean your family’s financial security is at risk. When you take time off for doctor’s appointments, even a single hour, you have the right to be reimbursed.
Proving lost wages doesn’t require mathematical precision. Whether you’re paid hourly or on commission, you have options to recover damages after your accident.
PROVING LOST WAGES
Here are the four ways to help prove your lost wages:
- Wage Verification From Employer – Letter from employer outlining your work hours, wages, and any time you’ve missed
- W-2’s – Even with a letter from employer, you may need to provide W-2 tax forms from the years before and after the accident
- Paystubs – Paystubs from before and after your accident can also prove your lost wages
- If Self-Employed – Loss of income can be more difficult to prove when you work for yourself. Be ready to show tax returns, accounts receivable, or a history of checks received for services rendered
In addition to the documents above, you may also need a disability note or a letter from your doctor. This will help verify the missed time from work due to the injuries sustained from your accident.
HOW A LAWYER CAN HELP
Insurance adjusters aren’t going to reveal that you can recover monetary damages for the loss of income following an accident. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible and protect their bottom line. Having an experienced accident attorney in your corner will help you build a strong case. A personal injury lawyer collects all the necessary documentation to prove your lost wages. You deserve to be compensated for the financial damages caused by your accident.
At Sweet James, we offer complimentary strategy sessions, so you have nothing to lose. We can help you determine whether you have a claim and can advise you on how best to proceed. We are happy to answer any of your questions, even if you’re hesitant about hiring an attorney. Call us at (800) 500-5200. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.