In Part 1 of Preventing Catastrophic Motor Vehicle Accidents we looked at safe driving and preventative measures necessary to protect drivers on the road. We also provided everything parents of teens need to know before handing over the keys, and our tips to get everyone where they’re going safely.
Now, in Part 2 of our series on motor vehicle accident prevention, we’ll look at the legal side of things. No one believes a catastrophic car accident could happen to them, but no one is immune to the reckless drivers on the road that make one poor decision–and as a result cause life-threatening injuries. Knowing what to do in the event that an accident does occur is as important to being a safe driver as the Do’s and Don’ts and insurance information we’ve provided here on our Law Resource.
Frequently Asked Questions
Board certified personal injury lawyers are several things: ethical, of outstanding moral character, honest, credible, and most importantly experienced. To become board certified, lawyers seeking this distinction must have all of these qualities to be able to take point on complex car accident cases (hint: it’s not as simple as “paper pusher” lawyers would lead clients to believe). An attorney must know what to do and be prepared for trial, should the case not settle in mediation, as is always possible.
Experienced, board certified lawyers often receive questions from clients about the what now? and am I covered? aspects of their case following a catastrophic car accidents. Below, we’ve answered several of these questions in-depth to better provide insight to what our readers need to know should they become involved in a serious car accident by no fault of their own.
1. What type of insurance is needed to protect me after bodily injuries? Bodily Injury Liability: This insurance policy covers exactly that: It’s coverage that protects a motorist in the event of serious bodily injury in a car accident, (or accidentally injure another person) while behind the wheel (negligence may factor into this, in such an instance, depending on the facts of the case).
Dependent upon the chosen policy, family members of the motorist are often named and covered by Bodily Injury Liability as well. This is important if close family members are all driving a shared vehicle–everyone is offered the same coverage and protection should an accident with bodily injuries occur. This type of policy is of utmost importance for parents of teen drivers. Parents who allow their teens to drive their car are putting themselves at-risk if they choose not to have this coverage.
2. Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage really necessary? Yes! This is not the type of coverage a driver wants to skip. In the event of a catastrophic car accident that leaves them or a loved one severely injured, due to the recklessness of another driver, this can be the deciding factor as to whether or not the victim’s medical bills are covered. As we’ve established in the past here on our Law Resource, only a lawyer that knows the facts surrounding a case can determine what would and would not be covered in the event of life-threatening injuries. However, this insurance policy is extremely important because it fully covers the driver in the event of an accident.
For example: If a driver who caused a life-threatening accident or a hit-and-run chose not to carry adequate insurance coverage (as is so often the case), or worse, are completely uninsured, this coverage protects a victim from having to pay for that selfish decision. In busy cities like Miami, accidents happen and most drivers aren’t insured or are underinsured. Covered drivers shouldn’t have to pay the price for a less responsible driver who chose to put others at-risk with their decision to text and drive, answer the phone, or try to eat while driving. This is the type of coverage drivers should always carry and hope they never have a reason to use.
3. Will my case go to trial or mediation? How is this decided? This is a question lawyers get on a daily basis and there is not a single answer. Each case is different, and only a lawyer presented with the facts of the case can know for certain what the best route, legally, would be for his or her client.
When it comes to mediation, it is the preferred method of many of the most experienced attorneys. Mediation is there to make the legal process run more smoothly for both client and attorney. In most mediations, a settlement that is reasonable and just for the client can be reached without the necessity of a trial.
However, there are many times that a settlement that’s reasonable for the extent of the client’s injuries cannot be reached and therefore, the case must be heard by a judge. An experienced, board certified lawyer will be prepared for this outcome before he or she even steps foot into the mediation room. Preparing for trial should not be taken lightly, and a law firm that has not taken cases to trial and won should be a red flag to quickly find another firm to represent the victim and their family.
On the scene
Now that we’ve answered several of the most important questions lawyers are presented with when consulting with a client after a car accident, we’ll wrap up this series with what motorists or their loved ones (if they are unable due to serious injuries) must do directly following a serious car accident.
Contact law enforcement: this is fairly straightforward. Immediately following an accident, someone must dial 911 and have law enforcement on the scene as quickly as possible. If not the driver, due to injuries, someone with the victim, or a witness can call for help. Police will exercise caution when approaching the scene, take the appropriate pictures, and help facilitate the exchange of information. If necessary, police will call for further assistance if a driver is incapacitated and unable to seek help.
Exchange information: After the police arrive on the scene, officers will help able drivers exchange information safely and prevent any unnecessary arguments from breaking out. Tempers can flare after an accident and he-said-she-said can cause confusion. Law enforcement is there to prevent this as much as possible. When emotions are high, police are able to help calm victims and take all necessary steps to properly document the accident.
What if the accident was a hit-and-run? In this instance, law enforcement will gather as much information as possible from witnesses on the scene and from anyone who was with the victim (if they weren’t driving alone) about what transpired right before, during, and immediately after the accident. This is where Uninsured Motorist Coverage would apply as well.
Seek medical attention: seeking medical attention in a timely manner is extremely important. If offered transport to a hospital or if it’s suggested that a victim receive transport to a hospital, they should absolutely follow the instructions of EMTs and law enforcement. Seeking medical attention is important even if the victim feels fine. Traumatic Brain Injuries cannot be seen, and therefore could put a victim who ignores medical advice in an extremely dangerous position.
Medical documentation is extremely important in the event of litigation. Lawyers will want to see hospital records for the victim to get a better understanding of the severity of their injuries. Refusing medical attention after an accident could make the victim look less credible (especially if a victim claims to be in pain, but refuses treatment)–and that’s something that can kill a case!
Seek experienced legal counsel: After initial medical treatment to stabilize an injured victim has been taken care of, it’s important for a victim or their family–in the event of TBI or other incapacitating injury, to contact a board certified civil trial lawyer. We cannot stress enough the importance of board certified here on the Blog! There is no substitute for a lawyer who has put in the time, effort, and gained the experience to become board certified in their area of the law.