Vehicle collisions kill or seriously injure millions of Americans every year. Thanks to negligence laws, accident victims might be entitled to substantial compensation, even if the other driver did not receive a citation.
Frequently, the most critical part of a car crash claim is the brief window of time between the crash itself and the point emergency responders arrive on the scene. During this time, many people unintentionally do things, or do not do things, which could torpedo their legal claims.
Since a Marietta personal injury attorney cannot be at your side during these important moments, we put together this post and hope it will serve as a resource. If an attorney must play from behind, it’s more difficult to obtain fair compensation.
Usually, this compensation includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages might be available as well, in some extreme cases.
This point might seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Even if your vehicle is drivable, always stop and wait for emergency responders to arrive. Or, at least stop and exchange insurance information.
The Georgia Code has a very broad hit-and-run law. Even if you were clearly not at fault, you must always stop and render aid if necessary. There are civil law implications as well. Drivers who flee accident scenes are sometimes unable to use certain defenses. Additionally, in the eyes of many Cobb County jurors, running away is an admission of guilt.
Do Not Apologize
In the everyday world, apologies usually are expressions of sympathy. People commonly say “I’m sorry” when loved ones are injured in car crashes, even though these accidents are clearly not their fault. But the rules are different in the wake of a vehicle collision.
Frequently, an apology is an admission of liability. And, these statements are usually admissible in court, because of some loopholes in the hearsay rule.
So, resist the urge to say “I’m sorry.” Those two little words can put your Marietta personal injury attorney in a very bad position. And, you simply do not know if the accident was your fault or not. That’s a legal question. Instead of apologizing, say something like “How can I help you?” Or, even better, do not say anything.
Do Not Talk to the Other Insurance Company
Non-policyholders have no legal obligation to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company immediately after a crash.
Telephone adjusters usually sound friendly. But these professionals know how to extract damaging information and paint people into corners. The insurance company has a number of advantages in car crash claims. Do not give them an extra edge.
The insurance company needs to know what happened and your side of the story needs to be in their records. But let your Marietta personal injury attorney interface with the insurance company.
The same thing is true if insurance adjusters ask you to settle the case. You have no obligation to speak with them. Once you officially partner with an attorney, your lawyer will handle all settlement negotiations.
Connect with a Lawyer
You probably knew this point was coming, and here it is. Only an attorney can evaluate your claim in light of legal doctrines like negligence and comparative fault.
Furthermore, attorneys can connect victims with doctors. It’s very important to see a car crash physician as soon as possible after an accident. Many victims do not know how badly they are hurt. Whiplash is a good example. MRIs and other diagnostic tests usually do not detect this soft tissue injury. Moreover, since it is a head/neck injury, many victims “feel fine” in the wake of a crash. If their necks hurt, they often write it off as soreness.
If not treated promptly and properly, whiplash can cause paralysis and other permanent injuries. However, if a car crash physician diagnosis it straightaway, most people don’t even need surgery.
So, it’s important to work with a lawyer, to protect your legal and financial rights. However, not just any lawyer will do.
If your foot hurts, you do not go to a proctologist. You go to a podiatrist. Likewise, if you are hurt in a Marietta car crash, you need to see a Marietta personal injury attorney.
Some lawyers have many years of experience, but they are not dedicated to personal injury. The late Grant Cooper represented Sirhan Sirhan, who was charged with killing Robert Kennedy. Cooper was an experienced attorney. But he was a general practice lawyer. He was Shirley Temple’s divorce lawyer when she split from John Wayne sidekick John Agar.
Perhaps due to his lack of dedication, Cooper did not identify and attack some weaknesses in the state’s case. If he had been more aggressive, perhaps Sirhan would not still be in a California prison today.
That being said, there is strength in diversity. If an attorney practices in areas other than personal injury, that diversity often gives the lawyer additional perspective. And, in most cases, your insight serves you well.
After a serious crash, simply getting from one place to another is a major chore. If your Marietta personal injury attorney is on the other side of town, it’s difficult to connect. And, the best attorney-client relationships are partnerships. True, most lawyers make house calls. But these visits aren’t as good as the privacy and security of an office consultation.
If you go to a new restaurant and there are no cars in the parking lot, it could be because the food is not very good. On the other hand, if you go to a new restaurant and there is a two hour wait for a table, it’s probably best to go somewhere else.
Potential clients can evaluate Marietta personal injury attorneys in much the same way. If the lawyer always has time to see you at the drop of a hat, that’s probably because the lawyer has few clients. On the other hand, if the attorney is too busy to even take your calls, there’s a good chance your case will be offloaded to a junior associate or even a paralegal.
Reach Out to a Diligent Lawyer
Knowing what to do after a car crash greatly increases the chances of a successful resolution. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Marietta, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.