Get Your Questions Answered Today By Iowa Injury Attorney Nicholas Pothitakis
After an injury or accident, you probably have a number of general questions about who was at fault, whether you are owed compensation, and whether you need an attorney to assist you with your claim. Below, we've answered some of the most common questions that we hear at our law firm.
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What do I do if I have been injured or in an accident?
1. STOP. If you see or are involved in an automobile collision, or see an accident or injury, stop. Leaving the scene of an accident, even a minor one, without first stopping to see whether there are damages or injuries is required in most states. Leaving the scene of an automobile accident may be criminally prosecuted. Even if you are not involved, you may be a key witness to the incident.
2. CHECK FOR INJURIES. You should not move an injured person unless there is eminent danger. If you are injured, do not move. If necessary, have someone call the 911. If you are unable to call, ensure someone else makes the call to 911, as they will ensure the police and proper emergency personnel respond to the scene.
3. WARN. If possible, turning on hazard lights, raise the hood or trunk of the vehicle or set our flares to notify oncoming traffic to proceed with caution.
4. EXCHANGE INFORMATION. If you are a witness, provide your name and phone number to the police. They will provide it to proper insurance companies. You may or may not provide information to the drivers in the accident. If you are in the accident, you and the other driver need to exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, drivers license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance carriers, policy numbers, and your insurance agent's name and telephone numbers.
5. OTHER WITNESS INFORMATION. Obtain identifying information from any witnesses to the accident, and ask them to provide the same information to the police.
6. TAKE NOTES. Write down as much as you remember about the accident-where and how it occurred, what the road and weather conditions were, the speed limits, if there was a stop sign or stop/caution light, what the lighting conditions were (time of day, were street lights on, etc.), and what the automobiles were doing when the accident happened. You may be required to share these notes with the other party if you enter into litigation.
7. NEVER TAKE THE BLAME. Regardless of who is at fault, do not say anything regarding blame. There may be other factors you are unaware of that may have caused the accident. An admission of guilt may be used against you later on.
8. COOPERATE WITH POLICE. Stay at the accident scene until the police tell you that you can leave. Tell the police only the facts of what happened, and do not assume anything or read any information into the facts. Again, do not acknowledge any responsibility to anyone, including people in your vehicle, the other vehicle, witnesses or police. It is not always simple to determine the legal matter of responsibility or liability. Do provide the police of any injuries and witnesses. The police officer that takes the report should provide you with a business card and the "incident number," so that you can obtain an accident report. If he doesn't offer it, ask for it.
9. CALL YOUR INSURANCE AGENT. It is important to notify your insurance agent right away, whether you are at fault or not. There is always a chance the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. Your insurance agent may ask you to provide the notes you have taken, information from the other driver, and police report information. Do not give recorded statements to any insurance company or meet with any insurance agents without consulting your Personal Injury lawyer first.
10. PHOTOGRAPH. Take pictures of the accident scene (even one or two days afterwards, preferably about the same time as the accident-if the accident was at night, also take pictures of the scene during the day). Also, take pictures of your injuries and the damages to your car.
11. CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY. Before filling out any insurance documents, giving recorded statements to any insurance company, or meeting with any insurance company representative, call us. Consultation is extremely important before giving a statement to the other driver's insurance company. Do not sign any check or document from any insurance company without first consulting an experienced Personal Injury attorney. NOTE: ALWAYS be honest with your insurance company. Not doing so may cause your policy to be invalidated.
12. CONSULT A PHYSICIAN ASAP. It is possible that you may not know the full extent of your injuries at the time of the accident. Various injuries may not be evident until some time later. If you do not see a doctor, it is possible to risk aggravating your injury by delaying your treatment. Even trifling soreness may be an indicator of a more significant injury. If there is any chance you may have been injured, it is safer to see a physician as soon as possible to rule out any unseen injuries.
Insurance companies have argued that individuals that fail to see a physician right away have injuries that must have resulted from an event or events that happened after the accident. The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to connect unseen injuries to the accident.
Things to look out for and to report are many. They include, but are not limited to things like dizziness, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, nausea, headaches, blood (in any natural bodily opening) or even ringing in your ears.
13. REVIEW. Review the notes you have taken at the accident within a few days. Check to ensure that all important information is included.
14. DOCUMENT. Document every item that has to do with the accident. This means recording or documenting every conversation, every phone call that you have with your Personal Injury attorney, your doctor AND any insurance company in relation to your accident including the date, time and name of the person or people that you spoke to as well as their job titles and their supervisor's names. Keep track of all medical bills and transportation costs, estimated future medical treatment, wages lost due to the accident, and wages that may be lost in the future due to the accident. Your Personal Injury lawyer will also review with you the effect the accident had on your life and your family. Your Personal Injury lawyer will also help you identify any other possible losses that may be associated to your accident.
If you would like to schedule a initial consultation contact an Iowa auto / car accident attorney, representing clients in Keokuk, Iowa at the Pothitakis Law Firm, P.C.. Give us a call at (888) 472-1778 or complete our inquiry form.
How do I know if I need a lawyer after an auto accident?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), someone in the United States is involved in a car accident every 10 seconds. Motor vehicle injury is the prevalent type of case involving Personal Injury. Six states, including Iowa, make the owner of the vehicle responsible for all damages, whether or not the negligent driver has assets or insurance to pay a judgment. One of the greatest sources of civil litigation in the United States is Negligence. Negligence is described as the "failure to exercise the care toward others which a reasonable or prudent person would do in the circumstances, or taking action which such a reasonable person would not. Negligence is accidental...but a crime can also constitute negligence, such as reckless driving. Negligence can result in all types of accidents causing physical and/or property damage," according to the free legal dictionary online. It is VERY important to contact a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible if you have been injured in an accident you have not caused. It is also very important to call your insurance company no matter whom or what caused the accident.
Is there anything I can do to avoid an auto accident?
There are many factors involved today in trying to avoid accidents. Much more now than in the past, it is imperative to beware of aggressive, drunk or reckless drivers in addition to standard cautions, such as road and weather conditions. It is important to be extremely cautious.
If you are looking at these pages, more than likely you or someone you love has been in an accident and you are seeking information about accidents and Personal Injury lawyers. Reviewing the information on "What to do in case of an injury or accident" may be very beneficial to you. For more detailed information about avoiding an accident, please see the website for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
How do I prove who was at fault if I was in an auto accident?
An experienced Personal Injury attorney knows the law in your state and reviews all the factors in your case, such as the police reports, and talks to the witnesses. Finding who is negligent in a traffic accident is crucial. You may believe you know exactly who or what was negligent, yet may not know which law has been violated. When going into litigation, judges review several factors in determining the requirements that place negligence. All of these factors are known by Personal Injury attorneys, and they understand the importance of little details and will represent you well.
What is the difference between uninsured and underinsured drivers?
Although states require insurance on any automobile, many drivers cannot afford adequate insurance or let their insurance lapse and do not carry any insurance at all. Most states now require every driver to have insurance and to have liability insurance in case of an accident. Much too often, the required insurance is insufficient for most accidents when injuries occur. You may have insurance that has "Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist" coverage that will pay for bodily injury if the responsible party does not have the proper insurance to cover all of your damages or injuries. Contacting a competent Personal Injury lawyer as quickly as possible to ensure you are protected t is essential, particularly in the case of uninsured or underinsured motorists.
Hit and run accidents are also usually covered by your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. In this case, your damages and expenses should be covered by your insurance company. DO NOT SETTLE with the other driver's insurance company until you know every detail about what your damages and injuries will cost and review these with your own Personal Injury lawyer. Your underinsured motorist coverage may not provide compensation to pay for the amounts over and above the other driver's insurance if you have settled with them. This is another important reason to contact and review everything with your own Personal Injury lawyer. Also remember that your insurance company will request a credit if you are paid over and above the reported benefits from the other driver's insurance. This includes any stackable uninsured/underinsured insurance allowed by some states. The combination of insurance coverage from several policies or insurance coverage for several vehicles listed on one policy may apply.
What is no-fault insurance?
Most do not have to learn or understand what No-Fault Insurance is all about. If you live or are traveling in the states of Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, you may be under a No-Fault Insurance Law. Some states, such as Colorado, repealed their No-Fault Insurance law and Florida's law ends in 2006. Since the laws of the state in which the accident occurred determine which driver is responsible for which damages, this is another reason to contact a Personal Injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
There are several types of No-Fault Insurance Laws. In some states, neither driver is considered at fault and each one generally submits claims to their own insurance. Other places, such as Canada, have limits on the ability to file suit for damages. If your damages are above a certain amount, you may file suit. In the United States, there is not a pure no-fault insurance where no one is to blame for any accident. At least two states, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have "Choice No-Fault Insurance." If you are in an accident with someone who has this type of insurance in that state and they have this insurance, you can not file suit against them and they can not file suite against you. Due to the variety of specific sections of the various laws, deciphering these laws may be complicated. Competent Personal Injury lawyers know these laws and are more qualified to assist you in the recovery of your losses.
What should I do if I am involved in an automobile accident?
If you are injured or believe that you might be injured, it's important for you to be examined by a doctor. Whether you go to the emergency room or your family doctor, it's important to seek medical care as soon as possible for your own well being as well as for any potential claim you have. It is important for you to be checked out by a physician. In addition, it's important for you to write down details concerning the accident, including the names, addresses, and phone numbers of those involved in the accident or who witnessed the accident.
Information concerning insurance company names and policies is important to keep track of. If you have any bruises or physical injuries that would be depicted in pictures, it would be important to take pictures immediately after the accident as well as on a regular basis. It's much easier to show a picture of the damages sustained to your body as opposed to trying to describe it.
With respect to your vehicle, it's important to take pictures of the damage that was incurred and also write down any items that were damaged inside the vehicle as a result of the accident.
How is the Pothitakis Law Firm compensated if they handle my personal injury case?
Pothitakis Law Firm handles automobile accident claims on a contingency fee basis. We initially provide a free consultation for personal injury and Workers' Compensation cases. If we decide to proceed on your case, this means that our firm is only paid for our time if we recover for our client. The benefit of a contingency fee agreement is that you do not have to expend considerable funds for an attorney to pursue your claim.
Do I have to talk to the other driver's insurance company or provide them a recorded statement?
You are not obligated to speak with the other party's insurance company or provide them a recorded statement. In fact, at Pothitakis Law Firm we discourage giving a recorded statement or discussions with the insurance company prior to our representation. The problem with insurance companies, is that their business model is to limit the damages that they will have to pay as a result of their insured's mistakes. Information that is conveyed early on in the process can have a significant impact on the value of your automobile accident claim. For this reason, Pothitakis Law Firm advises clients as well as potential clients to not speak with the other party's insurance company until they have sought the advice of a competent automobile accident attorney.
Who will pay my medical bills that are related to the injuries I have sustained in the automobile accident?
There are different sources that clients can and should use to have their medical bills paid after being involved in an automobile accident. The at-fault driver's insurance will not provide payment for your medical expenses, in most instances, until the case is resolved. Insurance company's typically write one check at the end of the claim for all of the damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. This can result in difficulties for clients who are incurring medical expenses as a result of another driver's mistakes. Other sources for the payment of these medical expenses include a client's health insurance, a client's own automobile insurance, and some state programs.
It's important to coordinate these various payment sources. A competent automobile accident attorney in Iowa will be able to help you with the same.