Car accidents account for millions of injuries across the United States every year. In West Virginia, we are no strangers to deadly crashes. In almost every wreck, at least one party is at fault. If you or someone you love was injured in a wreck and believe that another party’s recklessness, disregard for the law, or negligence caused the collision, a Charleston car accident lawyer can help you determine if you have grounds to seek compensation.
In 2016, drivers in West Virginia traveled millions of miles all over the state. While many of those trips ended positively, there were a number that did not. That year, there were 250 fatal vehicle collisions, which resulted in 269 deaths.
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we have experience handling a wide variety of common car crash cases including single-vehicle and multicar pileups, head-on and rear-end collisions, speeding accidents, weather-related and road hazard wrecks, and distracting driving crashes. Our committed legal team can help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve for medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering costs, and more.
DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC Protects Car Accident Victims
The lawyers at our firm understand how a car accident can put your life on hold. We’re here to help you get back on track and with the compensation you need to move forward. We’ll go over the following:
- Common Causes of Auto Accidents
- Safety Tips to Avoid Car Accidents in West Virginia
- The Dangers of Different Auto Collisions
- Injuries Related to Car Wrecks
- Noneconomic Damages of a Car Accident
- Steps to Take After a Crash in West Virginia
- Determining Liability After Your Accident
- What Actions Can Put Your Claim in Jeopardy?
- What to Expect When You’re Filing a Car Accident Claim
- Find the Road to Recovery With Our Attorneys
When you’re seeking justice, a Charleston car accident lawyer can help you take the necessary steps to hold the negligent party liable for their actions. As we look into your case, we’re going to need to know how the driver exhibited negligence. Let’s start by going over how car accidents can happen.
Common Causes of Auto Accidents
- Drunk Driving. In 2016, 24 percent of the drivers who died in car wrecks in West Virginia had a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent. Driving while impaired is 100 percent preventable and should be avoided at all costs. A person with a BAC higher than 0.08 percent will experience loss of judgment, difficulty steering and maintaining speed, a slowed reaction time, difficulty processing information and reasoning, difficulty braking efficiently, and may be unable to focus on driving altogether.
- Speeding. Speeding is a significant factor in many of Charleston’s traffic accidents. When a person speeds, they are less likely to be able to stop in time in the event of an emergency. In inclement weather, they may lose control of their vehicle. Sharp turns in unknown areas can also be problematic for speeders.
- Distracted Driving. Whether a driver is distracted by a text on their cell phone or their social media feed, their dashboard GPS, a snack they’re enjoying, a dropped item, or a conversation occurring inside the vehicle, inattention costs lives. Crashes caused by distracted drivers claimed 2,841 lives in 2018. Partaking in multiple tasks behind the wheel limits a driver’s ability to focus solely on the road in front of them. This is especially dangerous at high speeds on highways.
- Disregarding Traffic Laws. When a driver fails to obey the rules of the road, fails to follow the correct right-of-way laws, follows another vehicle too closely, or drives too fast for weather conditions, etc., accidents can happen. Traffic laws exist for a reason and ignoring them is illegal and can cost innocent people their lives.
- Driver Inexperience. Inexperienced drivers are not always familiar with how to avoid a potential collision or may be unfamiliar with Charleston roads. Newer drivers should approach getting behind the wheel with extra caution. New drivers are also more susceptible to becoming distracted behind the wheel. It’s important for teenagers to learn the best practices while driving and become aware of the dangers associated with distractions, drinking, and speeding.
- Driving While Drowsy. While it may not seem like a big deal, driving while overly tired or fatigued is just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There’s no doubting the fact that humans make more mistakes when overtired. Truck drivers in particular, who are often on the road for incredibly long stretches, need to be aware of how they’re feeling and how long they’ve been traveling, so they can stop when they need to rest.
- Poor Driving Conditions. Snow and ice increase the chances of getting into a wreck. A driver going too fast for road conditions could lose control.
- Hydroplaning. When the roads are slick, vehicles can lose their grip on the road. If the driver is traveling at high speeds, their car could potentially spin out.
- Road Rage. Sometimes, emotions get the best of drivers. If they believe someone cut them off, changed lanes in front of them without signaling, or some other slight, the driver may focus on getting back at the other person. This could include tailgating, speeding around them, or trying to get close enough to yell through the window. All these actions take the driver’s attention away from driving safely and their anger puts everyone on the road in danger.
If you or a loved one has been in a crash caused by one or more of the factors above, legal compensation may be available to you. This money can help a family move forward as well as protect future potential victims from being injured in the same way. When a driver acts negligently behind the wheel, sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to ensure they never make that mistake again. DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC is here to help you.
Safety Tips to Avoid Car Accidents in West Virginia
When you’re driving, you’re remaining alert, cautious, and obeying traffic laws like other responsible drivers. There are some tips to follow to help you be the safest driver possible. Let’s take a look at how you can increase your road safety.
- Maintain Your Vehicle. Your vehicle needs a regular inspection, oil changes, and tires with the proper amount of tread so you can be confident in your vehicle. You may consider going to the mechanic for a tune-up, especially before the cold winter months. When you know your car is road-ready, you can avoid accidents that are caused by taillights that are out or tires that have lost the tread that allows you to grip the road.
- Adjust Mirrors and Seat. Your first steps when you get into a vehicle should include checking your mirrors and the seat so you can see the areas around your car and you’re comfortable. When you try to make these adjustments while you’re driving, it’s a distraction that could result in an accident.
- Check the Weather. Before heading out, you may want to consider checking the weather to see if there’s a storm or other poor driving conditions approaching. If a major storm is approaching, whether it’s a thunderstorm with heavy rains or a blizzard, you can time your day around the storm to avoid being caught in it. If you were heading out to run errands, you may consider waiting another day to do them and not risking getting behind the wheel.
- Plan Your Route. When you’re going for a longer drive, you may want to look at the route beforehand. This way, you’ll know the exits or turns to expect while traveling. While navigation apps can help, they can be a visual distraction. Additionally, if there is traffic or an accident occurs on the road, you can seek an alternative route as a back-up plan.
- Anticipate Other Drivers’ Actions. While this can be tricky, you can anticipate that other drivers around you aren’t being as cautious or aware as you are. If other drivers could suddenly brake, switch lanes without signaling or checking their blind spot, then you’ll want to be able to avoid those situations should they arise. Giving other cars plenty of space means that you’ll have more time to react and possibly avoid an accident should they make a negligent decision.
- Be Aware of Blind Spots. Both cars and trucks have blind spots that can contribute to car accidents. When you’re driving, try not to stay in a vehicle’s blind spot. Slow down or continue your speed so the other driver can spot you.
- Pass with Care. When you’re preparing to pass a vehicle, check to make sure there aren’t any other vehicles changing lanes or passing vehicles. Use your signal to go to the left lane and maintain the speed limit. After you’ve passed the vehicle, turn your signal back on, check your mirrors and your blind spot. Switch lanes safely and then turn off your signal.
- Visibility Conditions. When you’re driving in the late afternoon, you may have plenty of light to see ahead of you. But as dusk approaches, your visibility can be limited. While using headlights can help, many drivers may not remember to switch them on until it’s completely dark. In addition to this condition, if you’re driving and the sun is in your eyes, sunglasses or using the sun visor can help block the light so you can see the road.
With these safety tips, West Virginia drivers can reduce the chances of an auto wreck occurring. However, if a driver is acting negligently, sometimes these collisions are unavoidable. If this has happened to you or a loved one, a Charleston car accident lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC will help you get the justice you deserve.
When our lawyers are fighting for you, we’re going to need to know the details of the accident to get fair compensation. Let’s go over the types of car accidents that can occur.
The Dangers of Different Auto Collisions
- Single-Vehicle. A collision doesn’t need to have more than one vehicle. There are accidents where a single driver hits something like a fixed object or an animal. Just because only one vehicle is involved, it doesn’t mean these accidents cause less harm. Striking a fixed object can still result in serious, possibly life-threatening injuries.
- Roll-Over. This is another accident that only involves one vehicle. Cars that are speeding or take turns too quickly could flip over. Sometimes, ice or an otherwise slippery road could be the cause of a rollover. Vehicles that are higher off the ground are more at risk for these accidents.
- Multiple Vehicle. When an accident happens on a highway, it can cause a chain-like reaction that affects the other cars on the road. For example, if there is slow-moving traffic and a negligent driver doesn’t stop in time, when they hit the car in front of them, that car will hit the vehicle in front of them, and it can continue. People can suffer from whiplash in these wrecks.
- Parked Car. Parking lots are a common place for these types of collisions. A person backing up may not see another car behind them or be too close to the car beside them. They could bump, scratch, or otherwise damage another vehicle. In these cases, it’s vital for the person to leave contact information for the car’s owner.
- Hit-and-Run. Colliding with another car and then driving off is a hit-and-run. When there’s an accident, the parties involved are supposed to stop, pull over if they can, and exchange information. If someone is injured and needs medical attention, they may not be able to call for help themselves—the other party will need to do this. If someone drives off, the other injured party could be in danger of their injuries worsening and possibly putting their life in danger. While hit-and-runs can occur because the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance or is scared of the consequences, the ramifications of this crime are much more serious. It’s always better for a person to deal with the civil claim than a criminal one.
- Rear-End. Distracted drivers are often involved in this kind of accident. A driver could be looking at their phone or trying to pick something up from the floor of the car—and they hit the rear of the car in front of them. These accidents can easily turn into multiple vehicle accidents if there’s a line of traffic.
- Side-Impact. This accident is also known as a “T-bone.” It happens when a vehicle with the right of way is turning and is hit by another car that didn’t stop. These accidents typically happen with cars turning at intersections and can be fatal.
- Side-Swipe. When cars are traveling side-by-side, they may get too close and collide. If the drivers maintain control, the damages may only be cosmetic. However, if one of the drivers overcorrects the steering to get away from the other car, they could cause a more serious collision.
- Head-On. One of the most dangerous wrecks, a head-on collision, is when the front of two vehicles hit each other. This can happen when someone is driving the wrong side of a highway.
No matter what kind of accident you were in, you deserve to know what caused it and why. A Charleston car accident lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC will look into your case and find out what happened. We understand that each case will have circumstances and details that make it unique. If you don’t recognize the accident situation above, don’t worry. You should still reach out to our firm so we can look into what happened and how we can help.
Injuries Related to Car Wrecks
- Whiplash. This occurs when the jolt of an accident causes the neck to move back and forth rapidly, which causes pain and injury to the tendons and muscles in the neck. Symptoms include neck pain and stiffness, loss and range of motion, and dizziness. Whiplash typically takes a few days to manifest; however, it can be longer. Recovery time depends on the severity of the injury.
- Broken Bones. The blunt force of a wreck can cause fractures. While any bone could be broken in a crash, the most common are the extremities, like the arms, hands, legs, and feet. If you have a broken bone, you may be experiencing swelling, bruising, redness, loss of function, or severe pain. While some fractures can be set in a cast and expected to heal after a certain period of time, others may require surgery.
- Spinal Cord Injuries. If the spinal cord is injured in an accident, it can result in paralysis. Depending on where the person is injured, they could lose function of their trunk and limbs. While some injuries may have reduced feeling and function below the injury site, some injuries can cause a complete loss of feeling and function.
- Concussion. A concussion occurs when severe force causes the brain to shift in the skull. It can happen even if a person’s head doesn’t make direct contact with something. Signs and symptoms include headaches, pressure, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. It is imperative to seek medical treatment if you think you have a concussion. If left untreated, difficulty with focus, memory, and concentration could become permanent.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While concussions can be a mild brain injury, TBIs can be more devastating. They can cause permanent physical or mental disabilities. The person could potentially struggle with daily tasks or their work following a TBI.
- Lacerations and Contusions. While less severe, it’s common for a car wreck victim to sustain a number of cuts and bruises. While these often heal on their own and require little treatment, it’s still important to be looked at by a doctor because the visible markings could be hiding more severe injuries.
- Loss of Limb. A severe crash can result in the loss of limb. This can either happen in the accident or surgeons may need to remove the limb if it’s too damaged to save.
- Burns. Burn injuries are most common with motorcycle crash victims because of the likelihood of the skin coming in contact with pavement and causing road rash. Anytime fire is involved, however, burns can occur. While mild burns can be treated fairly easily, they can be incredibly painful. More severe burns can take months to heal and may require skin grafts. Some burns are so deep that skin grafts will not help. For these injuries, the nerves have been destroyed and it’s unlikely that the person will recover feeling or function in the injury site again.
No matter how minor, it’s a good idea to seek medical treatment following an accident. While you may feel fine, you may have injuries and not know it. Car accidents are intense and highly emotional situations. Your reaction may include shock and adrenaline—which can mask the symptoms of injuries. As this wears off, you may begin to notice symptoms. Some injuries tend to present themselves days, weeks, or even months after the initial incident. Seeing a doctor as quickly as possible after the accident will allow a professional to evaluate your injuries and start providing you with the treatment you need.
However, some accidents may result in injuries that you may not walk away from. If the injuries are more severe, they may be considered catastrophic. TBIs, spinal cord injuries, burns, and loss of limb all have permanent consequences. While these injuries can heal up to a point, they may never fully heal. After this injury, you will likely face significant changes to your life. You may need to change your lifestyle and for a time, your main focus will be recovery.
Catastrophic injuries need intensive care so you can heal. You may have needed to stay in the hospital for some time, undergo surgical procedures, meet with specialists, and require equipment or medication. Then, you may need continued care in the future to maintain a high quality of life. This can mean a nearly a lifetime of costly medical bills.
A catastrophic injury can also prevent you from returning to work—and the entire workforce. If you’re no longer able to work, the financial stress of the situation can be overwhelming. You may wonder how you’re going to be able to afford the medical care you need. If you also provide for others, the situation can seem nearly impossible. That’s where a car accident lawyer from our firm comes in.
We understand how a catastrophic injury can affect your life. You shouldn’t have to choose between getting the medical care you need and maintaining the other costs of your life, such as utilities, food, and mortgage or rent. We’ll review the injuries and what your care will cost so your compensation will provide you with the relief that you need.
A Charleston car accident lawyer from DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC will also take the full effect of the accident into account. Car accidents can also affect your mental health as well. Let’s take a look at how the trauma of a car accident can present itself.
While many physical injuries are visible, dealing with the aftermath of the wreck and the resulting emotional trauma is often all internalized. There are common emotional reactions to an accident. These are caused by the release and withdraw of adrenaline. Those emotions often include anxiety, fear, and depression. These emotions are typical following an accident. Over time, however, those emotions often fade.
For some, the emotional trauma may have done more lasting damage that will not go away on its own. If you find that you’re still experiencing psychological trauma related to your collision, you can seek guidance from a mental health professional. You may want to consider it if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Mood Swings
- Social Isolation
- Changes in Eating Patterns
- Extreme Alertness
- Overwhelming Fear
- Panic Attacks
Treatment for psychological trauma often requires the help of a professional and can be expensive. Unlike physical injuries, there isn’t an expected time for how soon you’ll recover. With this uncertainty, you may feel like you have to choose between your mental health and having the money for something else. When you have a skilled Charleston car accident lawyer at your side, you won’t have to make these decisions. We’ll fight for you to get full and fair compensation so you can afford the care you need.
Dealing With Recovery
Everyone recovers differently after an auto accident. Some people may have an easier time than others. If you’ve sustained serious physical injuries, it will likely take time to feel like yourself again. If you’re coping with the emotional trauma, it can also take a while to feel like you’ve found your normal. In order to have a positive recovery, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations and avoid returning to work too soon.
Many people who have been in a car accident may make the mistake of returning to work before they’re ready to do so. While it’s common to want to get back to the normal routine as quickly as possible, car accident injuries need time to heal. When someone goes back to work before they’re ready, they can put themselves in danger of harm all over again.
Returning to work too early can happen because of the person feeling pressure to do so. They may be thinking about what their boss or their colleagues are thinking about them. Sometimes, they may believe those people think they’re taking advantage of the situation and are taking off more time than they need to. It’s important to remember that you’re allowed to let your body rest and heal, and your boss and coworkers likely want you to do what’s best for your health.
You may feel like you need to return to work if you’re running out of time you can take off. While you may have paid time off, whether it’s for vacation or sick days, it likely will not cover the time you need to recover from an accident. You may feel like you have to choose between returning to work or risking days of lost pay. However, you’re risking much more than that.
When you go back to work before you’re physically able to do so, you may have a mindset that you’ll work through the pain. However, if you do this, you can possibly reinjure yourself, or make your injuries worse than their original state. When this happens, you’ll have to go through the process all over again. However, your compensation may not cover the costs of these injuries and care because they weren’t a result of the accident, they occurred because you went back to work. This can create a financially difficult situation.
As you recover, you’ll likely have follow-up appointments with your doctor to track the progress of your recovery. Speak with your doctor if you can return to work. Get their approval before going back. However, you should still pay careful attention when you return to work. If you’re working and you feel pain or that something is wrong that means you cannot continue to perform your tasks, you need to inform your employer and make another appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.
Dealing with lost wages can be an added stressor when you’re recovering. We understand how expensive it can be to recover from a car accident. Your Charleston car accident lawyer is prepared to investigate your case to determine how much compensation you’re owed, so your financial burdens are taken care of. This will include the days of pay you missed as a result of the accident.
Noneconomic Damages of a Car Accident
While you’re aware of the ways that a car accident can cost financial damages, there are other kinds of damages that can occur that your car accident attorney can include in your compensation. The noneconomic damages are the other consequences of the accident. This could be loss of enjoyment of life—if your injury prevents you from living the lifestyle you had before the accident. You may not be able to participate in sports, miss family events, or experience other obstacles because of your injury. Additional noneconomic damages include:
- Mental Anguish. If you’re dealing with a permanent injury, or an injury that will cause temporary physical disability, you may be experiencing mental anguish from how the injury is affecting your life. An auto accident attorney from our firm will take this into consideration when determining your compensation amount.
- Pain and Suffering. The physical pain you experienced from the accident, the resulting injuries, and the recovery process can be included in your compensation.
- Emotional Distress. Another emotional aspect of your accident and injury may result in feeling embarrassed or humiliated.
- Loss of Consortium. If a car accident resulted in the death of a loved one and you’re seeking a wrongful death suit, you can seek damages for losing the person’s guidance, companionship, and support.
You may be wondering how these elements of your injuries and damages are accounted for in your claim. Our experienced Charleston car accident attorneys have calculated these types of damages before and we’ll make sure your compensation accurately reflects what you’ve been through.
There are different options for calculating noneconomic damages. One of the methods is the per diem method, or the daily rate method. Your auto accident lawyer will calculate the daily rate it costs you to live with your injuries. Typically, your car accident attorney will use what you earn in a day at work, as your day-by-day recovery is just about as emotionally taxing as going to work. Then, we’ll look at how many days you’ll need to recover. Once we have those two figures, we’ll multiply them to calculate your noneconomic damages.
Another method that can be used to arrive at the proper amount of compensation you should recover for your noneconomic damages is the multiplier method. This takes in different values into account when determining your noneconomic damages. In this method, your car accident lawyer will calculate your economic damages. Then, they will usually multiply it by a factor between 1.5-5. The higher the number, the more severe the damages were. Some cases may require lower or higher numbers. After multiplying your economic damages by the factor determined by your lawyer, you’ll have the compensation amount for your noneconomic damages.
When you have a skilled Charleston, WV car accident lawyer on your side, you’ll know you have someone fighting for you to get the full financial recovery you deserve. While your lawyer will be able to put together a strong claim with the evidence from the accident, there are steps you can take that will help your claim later.
Steps to Take After a Crash in West Virginia
If you are involved in a car wreck, you’re likely going to have heightened emotions. You may not know what to do. The following steps list out what you can do after a car accident that will help you and anyone else get the care they need, and properly document the accident so you can get proceed with a car accident claim.
- Call 911. The first step is to prioritize the safety of yourself, fellow passengers, and anyone else who was involved in the crash. Call 911 so police and paramedics will be at the scene. If you’re too injured to call for help, instruct someone to do so.
- Move Vehicle Off the Road. Car accidents can block traffic and cause jams on the road. If possible, move your car safely to the side of the road so traffic can continue to move. However, if you’re too injured to do this, do not attempt to move the car. You don’t want to injure yourself further. If you are able to move your car, inspect it first. Leaking fluids, smoke, or fires are all dangers that could cause serious injuries. If you notice these signs, move far away from the car and help others get away from the vehicle as well.
- Allow First Aid. When medical professionals arrive at the scene, allow them to inspect you for injuries. They’ll be able to do first aid and see if you’re exhibiting signs of a more serious injury.
- Speak to Police. In the state of West Virginia, drivers involved in a wreck resulting in more than $1,000 of property damage, injury, or death must immediately contact law enforcement. If the accident takes place within a city, local police can be called. If the crash occurs anywhere else, call the office of the county sheriff or the nearest police office. When you’re speaking with police, be as honest and detailed as possible. The police report can be presented to your insurance company to aid in determining liability.
- Exchange Insurance Information with the Other Driver(s). You’ll want to get the insurance and contact information from the other drivers involved. Your insurance company will need this info. Keep the conversation simple and to the point. Do your best to not let your emotions get the best of you and do not attempt to talk about fault during this period. Anything you say can be held against you later if your claim goes to court. Remember to never apologize.
- Speak to Any Witnesses Who Saw the Accident. If someone else saw the crash happen, ask for their account of the collision and if they’re comfortable giving you their contact information. Witnesses can be integral to a strong testimony if your case is presented before a judge.
- Document Evidence If Possible. You can preserve evidence at the scene of the accident. Helpful evidence can include photographs of the damages. Include close-ups of the damage to the car and also the entire accident scene. Take photographs from multiple angles so nothing is left out—including details like tire marks or broken glass on the road. Timestamps can also help your car accident lawyer see the road conditions and weather conditions of the day the accident occurred. Photographs of your injuries may also help show how severe the accident was and how it affected you.
- Seek Medical Attention. While you may have received first aid treatment at the site of the accident, you may still have injuries that need treatment. Seeing your doctor as quickly as possible will allow you to begin the recovery process and also have the injuries and treatment documented on your medical record. This could be helpful when you’re seeking compensation through a claim.
- Contact Your Insurance Company. Report the crash to your insurance company, but don’t agree to any premature settlements—especially if you feel you were not at fault for the accident. You and your family deserve a full and fair settlement offer. If the offer you receive doesn’t seem accurate or fair, you do not have to accept it. You have every right to contact a lawyer regarding your other options before signing anything.
- Don’t Speak with the Other Driver’s Auto Insurance Company before Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney. You should not give medical authorization to the opposing insurance company or discuss your medical condition with one of their representatives. Instead, your first step should be to call a trusted Charleston car accident lawyer from our firm. They could use what you say against you to lessen your settlement or reduce their client’s liability percentage.
If you were involved in a hit-and-run accident, you should still follow the steps of this list. Assess yourself for injuries and call for help. When you’re speaking to police, try to remember any details that you can about the other driver. The vehicle make, model, and license plate number can put police on the path to finding the driver so you can pursue legal action. After you make your report, continue to get a medical evaluation, inform your insurance company, and get in touch with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
We suggest that you talk to us before accepting anything from an insurance company. Your insurance provider may not give you the settlement that you can collect when you have a skilled Charleston lawyer on your side. We can assist you in working toward the highest settlement offer possible.
Determining Liability After Your Accident
Our state requires auto wreck victims to prove the other driver was at fault before compensation is awarded for incurred damages. Under the modified comparative negligence law, injured parties can obtain financial awards if the opposing party’s fault is greater. A car accident lawyer can help you determine fault with a thorough investigation and seek compensation.
It’s important to remember there is a statute of limitations in place. This sets a time limit on how long you have to bring a lawsuit to court. According to West Virginia Code section 55-2-12, you have two years from the date of the accident to file the claim. If that date is not met, anything filed after is likely to be thrown out.
While two years can seem like a long time, you’ll want to get in touch with a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Physical evidence from the scene can disappear over time and eyewitnesses may forget details when they’re further away from the event. You’ll be dealing with injuries and the financial losses after an accident and likely will want to resolve this matter as soon as possible. Starting your legal process will put you on the path to recovery.
You also don’t want to risk the two-year window passing you by and rendering you ineligible for compensation. However, this isn’t the only way your compensation could be reduced. Let’s go over the ways you could harm your claim so you can avoid these actions.
What Actions Can Put Your Claim in Jeopardy?
Protecting your claim is paramount to you getting the compensation you deserve. The following actions could potentially affect your claim and the compensation you could recover.
- Fabricating Details. When you’re recounting the details of the accident to the police, you’re making an official report. Because accidents happen so quickly, it’s likely that you may not have gathered all the details of the accident, you only can relay your experience. If there are gaps in your memory or you’re not sure how something happened, don’t try to fill in those details as you may be wrong. If your account has inaccuracies in it, this may make you seem like an unreliable source, which could call your involvement in the accident and the severity of your injuries into question.
- Apologizing for the Accident. Car accidents are difficult situations. When you’re exchanging information with the other party, you may feel like apologizing for the incident even if it wasn’t your fault—you may say it to acknowledge the situation. However, your apology could be used against you later on. Apologizing for the accident can be viewed as you admitting fault. This could result in affecting the compensation you can recover.
- Not Seeking Medical Attention. After an accident, you should seek medical attention for many reasons. You’ll want to get an assessment of your injuries and start the recovery process. If you don’t go to the doctor, your injuries can become much worse. The time you visit your doctor will be documented. If you waited a long time to see the doctor and your injuries worsened, you may not be able to recover full compensation for your medical expenses. The other side may question why you waited that long to see a doctor and argue that your injuries weren’t severe enough for you to seek medical attention after the accident.
- Accepting the First Settlement Offer. When you file a car accident claim, the insurance company will likely offer you a settlement offer. You may want to accept it because you’d get the settlement and would be able to move on from the incident. However, it’s important to remember the insurance company is protecting their bottom line—they’re looking out for their best interests. It’s likely this first settlement offer is actually much less than you deserve. If you accept the settlement, you will not be able to pursue further compensation. You don’t want to be in a situation where you find that the settlement you accepted isn’t enough to cover the losses of the accident.
- Posting on Social Media. Anything you post to social media can affect your claim, whether it’s about the accident or not. As it’s common to post life updates on social media, you may want to inform others of what happened. However, the details you share can be used against you. If you said something along the lines of “I’m fine” or “I’m okay,” you may just mean that you’re going to recover from the incident, but you still have injuries. Those phrases may be viewed as you saying you’re not injured at all. If you post something about being out or seem very active on social media, the other side could also question if your injuries are as severe as you claim.
If you have any questions about how your actions can affect your claim, your Charleston car accident lawyer will be able to advise you on what to do. For example, you may be advised to proceed with extreme caution when using social media. You can prevent difficult situations by setting your accounts to private so only you approve who sees what you post. You may want to take a step further than that and not post anything on social media while you’re going through the legal process.
We understand how the legal process is complicated and that your actions can affect your compensation, even if you weren’t at fault for the car accident in the first place. We’ll be with you every step of the way so you can rest assured that you’re taking the proper steps and aren’t putting your claim in jeopardy.
Having the rules for how to protect your claim is important and now you may be wondering about the car accident claim process. Let’s go over what you can expect.
What to Expect When You’re Filing a Car Accident Claim
When you’re working with a Charleston car accident lawyer, you’ll know that we’re going to stand up for your best interests no matter what. If you’re wondering about the claims process and what it entails, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions and explain what’s happening so you’re up to date with the status of your claim.
Filing a car accident claim can be a complex process because every situation is unique. There could be multiple parties involved, which can make determining liability difficult. A car accident attorney from our firm will investigate the accident and determine who is responsible for your injuries and damages and seek compensation through the proper channels.
You will likely deal with an insurance company during your claim. During this time, there is a chance for the case to be settled. This means the insurance company will offer a settlement for your losses. If this is a fair amount for what you went through, then you may take the settlement and the process is over.
However, if the settlement is much less than you deserve, then you can take the step to the next level and file a lawsuit. When you’re going to court, you can seek full compensation for your injuries and damages. This is a step that your lawyer will discuss with you to see if it’s the correct move for your best interests.
Filing a lawsuit can result in you getting full compensation, but if the jury rules against you, it could result in nothing. That’s why it’s so important to have a skilled Charleston car accident lawyer on your side.
Bringing Your Case to Court
When your case is going to court, you’ll need to show how your injuries and losses were the result of the car accident, which was caused by the defendant’s negligent actions. Much of the evidence gathered at the scene of the accident may help you prove your case.
Our lawyers will use the evidence from the investigation, police report, eyewitness accounts, and other evidence like photographs or surveillance footage for your case. You can also help your case by providing your medical records after the accident. They’ll show the resulting injuries of the accident, the treatment process, and the costs of the medical care you’ve had and will need in the future.
When you’re going to court, you may be nervous about what that entails. Presenting your case to a jury can be a nerve-wracking situation, but our lawyers will help you prepare what you’re going to say. You can also help your nerves about court by doing the following:
- Arrive Early. Know that there’s going to be some time between you arriving at the courthouse and getting to your appointed court room. You’re going to need to park your vehicle, go through security, and then proceed to where you’re supposed to go. Give yourself time to allot for this process so you’re not late or rushing for your appointment.
- Dress Appropriately. You want to make an impression that you’re taking this situation seriously. How you dress can help convey this. Clean, business-appropriate clothes are suitable for a court room. If you’re not sure, ask if this is something you would wear for a formal job interview. If the answer is yes, it’s likely good for your court date. As always, you can ask your lawyer about how you should present yourself.
- Leave Distractions Behind. Phones and other digital items should be left in the car. You don’t want to worry about something making a noise during the court proceedings. You may also consider not wearing jewelry, as the metal can make noises and be distracting as well.
- Be Respectful. Your lawyer will go over how and when you can address the judge. It’s also important to remain calm and be respectful of everyone in the court room. You would do yourself a disservice if you come across as hostile or belligerent.
- Speak Calmly and Clearly. When you’re answering questions or speaking about the accident, remember to slow down and speak as clearly as possible. It’s important for the jury to hear your side of the story. Practicing how you’re going to speak can help calm these nerves.
- Control Emotions During Verdict. When the verdict is read, it’s important to not react to it as much as possible, whether it’s in your favor or not. Remember, you’re in a court room and need to be in control of your behavior and emotions.
Our car accident attorneys have years of experience fighting for our clients in court. We’re prepared to help you understand the court process, what you need to do, and we’ll make sure you’re ready for your appointment.
You can depend on your representation to file the lawsuit in the correct court and that all the paperwork will be in order and on time. We’re well aware of what needs to be done to get ready for a court case. We’ll do everything we can to give you the strongest case possible so you have the best chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.
Find the Road to Recovery With Our Attorneys
At DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC, we know what it takes to obtain damages above a typical insurance settlement. If you need compensation to cover your medical expenses, missed work time, and/or emotional damages, we can help. Our goal is to serve your best interests. We are also prepared to help if you’ve wrongfully lost a loved one.
Our skilled wrongful death lawyers have helped families get justice for their loved ones and get the recovery they need so they can grieve. While it can be difficult to bring a wrongful death suit forward, this is like the personal injury claim your loved one would have filed had they survived the accident. With this claim, you can make your loved one’s voice heard and get the financial relief your family needs. We’ll fight for you to recover funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of enjoyment of life, and any other loss that applies to your case.
We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means that you won’t have to pay a dime until we obtain compensation for you. We serve injured victims and their families in Charleston and throughout the entire state. Contact us to set up a free case evaluation with a Charleston car accident lawyer at our firm. We’ll go over what happened to you and begin to discuss your legal options. We’re prepared to answer questions and work with you so we can find the best way got you to move forward. With our help, recovery is in your future.