Indianapolis Attorneys for Auto Accidents Injuries
Acting in Your Interests Following a Car Accident Injury
Of course, no one ever intends to be involved in a car accident and suffer injuries as a result of that accident. Those who find themselves in this situation must always remember to act in their own best interests because it is unlikely the insurance company will go out of their way to do so. This is the primary reason it is so important to contact an experienced car accident attorney as quickly as possible following an accident. Roadway accidents are much more common now, due in part to the greater number of vehicles on the road. Add to that the fact that in the United States we are always in a hurry and are frequently distracted while driving and you will find that car accident continue to rise, despite more and more safety features on newer cars. In fact, there are as many as six million car accidents each year, although some of them are relatively minor fender benders. About thirty-seven thousand people die in auto accidents every year, with another nearly 2.5 million sustaining moderate to severe injuries. There are several issues you must deal with following your accident, and each of these is vitally important—both to your health and to your future recovery of expenses and damages. Having the knowledgeable Cohen & Malad, LLP car accident attorneys helping you every step of the way can make a tremendous difference in the outcome.
Distracted Driving—the Fastest-Growing Cause of Auto Accidents
Drivers are simply not taking the issue of distracted driving seriously enough. While most drivers recognize that distractions in the car can be dangerous, they also believe that they are able to handle distractions without compromising their safety or the safety of others. Yet at least 10 percent of fatal car accidents, and 15 percent of car accidents resulting in serious injury are related to distractions. Distracted driving crashes are vastly underreported because no one wants to admit they were doing something they knew to be dangerous while driving. Further, teen drivers, who have a fatal crash rate three times as high as drivers over the age of 20 are the group most likely to engage in driving distractions. Talking on a cell phone, texting, making changes to the GPS, changing music selections, eating an entire meal, turning around to see what the children are doing in the back seat, leaning down to pick up a bottle or a toy—all of these are extremely serious driver distractions which can lead to a very serious (or even fatal) car accident. According to a University of Utah study, those who use a cell phone while driving are 5.36 times more likely to be involved in a car crash, and people who talk on their cell phone while driving are as impaired as a driver with a BAC of 0.08 percent. These are sobering statistics which all drivers should take to heart, avoiding distractions while driving.
Injuries Sustained from the Accident
The primary issue those who have been in a car accident should be concerned with are the injuries sustained by the drivers and passengers. Many times, people suffer injuries from a crash, but because of the adrenaline rush brought on by the accident, they are unaware of the extent of their injuries and refuse medical attention. Hours, days or even weeks later, they may become aware of a specific injury which was caused when the vehicles collided. When there are no obvious injuries, blood or broken bones, some people are embarrassed to ask to be transported to the hospital in an ambulance and insist they are “fine.” Neck and back injuries in particular often manifest after the excitement of the accident has passed. Whiplash is common and is a very real and painful injury. Back injuries are also common results of an auto accident. People involved in car accidents could end up with an injury which causes pain for a very long time, and if a doctor was not seen after the accident, it can be harder to receive compensation for the injuries.
Common Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents
You may wonder about what the most common type of injuries are following a car accident. Neck and back injuries are commonly seen following a car accident; neck injuries can occur even when the automobiles involved were going five miles per hour or less. Many of those involved in a car accident will have adverse symptoms for months, even years after the accident. Some will end up permanently disabled. Whiplash is one of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents. Whiplash occurs when the neck suffers a sudden jerking motion, which can tear and stretch the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the neck. Whiplash injuries may take up to 24 hours—sometimes, even longer—to develop, with symptoms worsening over time.
Brain and head injuries are also common car accident injuries. When the head suddenly strikes a hard object—like a steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield—the brain is slammed into the hard bones of the skull. Because there may be a lack of visible injury, brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose. Broken bones are common car accident injuries, and knee injuries are often seen when the person’s knees hit the dash. Facial lacerations can occur from contact with the steering wheel, dashboard, airbag, windshield, side window, or shattered glass. Not only can facial injuries be painful, but they can also lead to psychological trauma. Some car accident victims find they suffer PTSD after their accident, even to the point they are unable to get into a car again.
Medical Treatments Following A Car Accident
Your first line of treatment following a car accident could be the emergency room, or perhaps your regular general practitioner. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may be referred to a specialist, or multiple specialists, to ensure you regain your pre-accident health. Your specific injuries will dictate whether you receive surgery or other treatments. You may have broken bones that need to be set, lacerations that need to be stitched, or internal damage that needs to be dealt with via surgery.
Soft tissue injuries and head injuries are more difficult to assess and treat and may require more tests. Following car accident injuries, many people are sent to physical therapy to work on returning to their prior level of mobility. Those with back and neck injuries may see a chiropractor, and some may seek out acupuncture or other forms of natural medicine to alleviate pain. The bottom line as far as medical treatments are concerned is that you should always follow your doctor’s’ instructions to the letter. Many people stop physical therapy once they start feeling better, then later find their pain returning.
Most importantly, if you have any unusual symptoms, never simply wait for them to go away. Pain, numbness, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, blurry vision, chronic headaches, hearing or vision disturbances, or any other unusual symptoms require a visit to the doctor, sooner, rather than later. Always be proactive where your health is concerned following an Indiana car accident, and always follow your doctor’s treatment plan to the letter.
How Car Accident Injury Claims Work In The State Of Indiana
If you have been involved in an Indiana car accident, the process for recovery can feel complex and difficult. Not only must you deal with your own injuries and the damages to your vehicle, you may be unable to work as a result of your injuries, therefore, unable to pay your normal monthly bills. Such a situation can be devastating. On top of that, you may be attempting to deal with a recalcitrant insurance company that does not want to pay you enough to cover your expenses. Having an experienced Indiana injury lawyer by your side during such a difficult time can make everything go much smoother, enabling you to receive an equitable settlement.
Your car accident attorneys will work hard to secure past, present, and future medical expenses, property damages for your vehicle repair, lost wages and future lost earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, and damages for physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, permanent disability, disfigurement, and scarring. Many car accident claims are settled through negotiation rather than through litigation, and this may hold true for you, barring extenuating circumstances. Your car wreck attorneys will investigate your accident, identify the at-fault driver, and determine what insurance coverage that driver has. Your attorney will then calculate the full extent of your losses and prepare a demand letter.
The insurer will usually respond by either denying liability altogether or making a counteroffer. Your car accident attorneys will continue negotiating until it becomes clear the company has no intention of paying a fair settlement. If this occurs, then a lawsuit will be filed, and a trial date set. In the interim, there will be an exchange of evidence between the parties (known as discovery), and possibly depositions or written interrogatories. Your auto accident claim must be filed within Indiana’s statutes of limitations.
Damages That Can Be Recovered By Car Accident Attorneys
You will be entitled to compensatory damages following your car accident. Compensatory damages are meant to make you “whole” again or return your life to the way it was prior to your accident. Compensatory damages are further broken down into special and general damages. Special damages are easy to quantify because they are concrete costs. Special damages can include the cost to repair your vehicle, your medical expenses, and your lost wages. Medical expenses include everything from your ambulance and ER bill to the costs for specialists, surgical procedures, rehabilitative therapies, chiropractor costs, and prescription medication costs.
If you were only unable to work for a week or so, you will be entitled to reimbursement for any lost wages. If your injuries are so severe you will not be able to work for months, years—or forever—then you will be entitled to lost future earnings. Lost future earnings are an estimate of what you would have reasonably earned throughout your life if you had not been injured. General damages are less easy to quantify and can include things like pain and suffering, PTSD issues, emotional trauma, loss of ability to engage in and enjoy prior activities, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, partial or permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement.
All of these are more subjective, meaning only you can know how much your life has been disrupted as a result of your accident. Wrongful death damages may be sought when an injury leads to the death of the person. In addition to lost wages, the decedent’s loved ones may receive funeral expenses, burial expenses, and additional expenses. Punitive damages are usually only awarded when the at-fault driver exhibited particularly egregious, willful, or malicious behavior that resulted in the accident.
How To Work With The Insurance Company After A Car Accident
Working with an insurance company following your car accident can be difficult at best. If you do not have a personal injury attorney representing your interests, the insurance company may try its best to take advantage of you. Few insurance companies want to pay what a claim is worth and will do everything possible not to pay. When you have experienced car accident attorneys representing you, you will not be taken advantage of. Your attorneys will ensure you receive the full value of your claim. Further, if you are asked by an insurance company to record a statement, never do so until you have had a chance to discuss it with your lawyers. The goal of the insurance company is to get you to say something that can later be taken out of context and used to minimize your settlement amount.
What to Do Following an Auto Accident
Once all injuries are tended to, then people who are physically able should “take stock” of the scene of the accident. Information must be exchanged with the other driver, including insurance information, name, address and phone number. With cell phones with cameras so readily available, photos of the scene should be taken when possible. Close-ups of the accident, as well as other photos which show the area surrounding the accident are important, particularly if inclement weather or another type of hazard caused by the accident. If there are witnesses to the accident, names, addresses, phone numbers and statements could be an immense help for a future claim. The police should be contacted, even if the accident is relatively minor, and even if the other driver is in a hurry, and just wants to exchange insurance information and go on their way. Having a police report following an auto accident can make a huge difference in receiving an equitable settlement for injuries and damages. Once you are home, it is highly advisable to write down detailed notes about the accident—anything you remember later can be added. People involved in an auto accident should keep all their notes, photographs, medical expenses, medications, vehicle damages and any type of receipt related to the accident together in a file. When the insurance company is called, it is important to offer only the facts of the case and avoid giving more information than asked for. Many people inadvertently say something which later is taken out of context and can hurt their claim. If an insurance company offers a quick settlement—beware. Insurance companies primary goal—despite the commercials you see on television which tell you your insurance company is your “friend”—is to ensure a healthy financial balance at the end of each year. This means they are much less concerned with your injuries and your future than with their financial bottom line.
Getting Help from Cohen & Malad, LLP Car Accident Attorneys
Once all the details of the car accident have been attended to, finding a highly experienced personal injury attorney to take care of obtaining a fair settlement for your injuries is the next issue you should be concerned with. Having a knowledgeable Cohen & Malad, LLP personal injury attorney by your side can go a long way in ensuring your interests—and your future—will be well-taken-care-of. People involved in auto accidents may feel overwhelmed and unsure of which direction to take which can lead to costly mistakes. Our experienced car accident attorneys will handle all the details of your case and allow you to concentrate on healing from your injuries. Your case is of the utmost importance to us—we will work with accident reconstruction specialists and design engineers to identify crash factors and prove your claim. While we will use our efforts to negotiate a fair settlement, we are never hesitant to litigate a claim if necessary. Our firm has represented clients in nearly every county in Indiana, from South Bend to Evansville, and all counties in between—we have a long history of working hard to help fellow Hoosiers. If you or a family member have been injured in an Indiana car accident, contact Cohen & Malad, LLP today for compassionate, experienced representation.