Answering All Your Personal Injury and Social Security Disability
When a catastrophic event puts your future at risk, anxiety and uncertainty will cause you to have a million questions. What can you do? How can you provide for your family? Will you recover?
Allow the extensive experience and knowledge of the Packard Law Firm put your worries to rest. Come learn the answers to your questions and see how we can help pull you out of the depths of uncertainty.
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What Should I Tell My Insurance Adjuster After An Accident?
The short answer is, yes.
Most insurance policies have a provision requiring prompt notice of an accident. Additionally, your policy may provide coverage for repairs to your vehicle, or it may even cover a rental car while yours gets repaired. Many times your own insurance company acts more quickly than the other driver’s insurance company. So, you need to call and set up a claim with your own insurance company to get the process going.But there are also a few landmines that you want to avoid. First, don’t go into detail about your physical injuries, especially if you talk to the adjuster soon after the accident. Since he or she will be the one who negotiates the settlement, many times an adjuster will hope to pin down your specific injuries early on when you don’t even know how badly you were hurt. A good approach to take when the adjuster asks about injuries is to say that you don’t know the extent of your injuries, but you want to get checked out by a medical provider. Many car wreck injuries aren’t apparent the first few days after an accident, so keep that in mind when you make your initial call to your adjuster.
It is legal for the other side to take pictures and videos of me without my consent?
Yes, and it happens more often than you might think. Aggressive insurance companies and defense lawyers often hire private investigators to watch an injured person from a distance and take photos or video to make it appear that they are not injured. If you are injured, you should assume that this could potentially happen to you.
What is the first thing I should do after an accident?
The moments following an accident can be very disorienting. If you can following these steps, you'll set yourself up to achieving a successful car accident case outcome.
What To Do Immediately After An Accident
First, make yourself safe. Sometimes a simple accident can turn into a pileup. Also, Texas law requires drivable vehicles to move off the main roadway onto the shoulder.
Second, call the police and report the accident. You need the police there to write an accident report. They usually take a while to show up, so make the call as soon as you can. When they show up, make sure you talk to them about what happened. Don’t guess about things you didn’t see or don’t remember.
Getting in an accident is traumatic. In times like this, the human body fills with adrenaline, and that can mask pain. So when the officers ask, let them know about any obvious injuries. But rather than telling them you are not injured, let them know that you would like to get checked out by a doctor to see if you are injured. Many times, pain and soreness show up days after an accident.
Third, exchange contact information and insurance information with the other drivers. If the police are there, they will usually facilitate this.
Fourth, take pictures if you can. You want pictures of each car that is involved in the accident, and whatever damage the vehicles sustained. Get pictures of the accident scene as a whole, showing landmarks and intersections in the background. Also, take pictures of any injuries you have. Scrapes and bruises heal pretty quickly, so document these injuries with photos through the healing process. The same is true for more significant visible injuries. Every few days, take a few pictures.
Fifth, call your own insurance company and report the accident. Don’t go into detail about any injuries, simply say that you are going to go get checked out. Your policy might cover a rental car. If it does, ask for help setting that up.
Lastly, go to the doctor and get evaluated soon after the accident. Ideally, this will be the same day as the accident. If you wait to get evaluated, the insurance company will try to blame your injuries on something else. Keep in mind, that many doctor’s offices won’t treat you for accident-related injuries, so you might have to go to an emergency room or urgent care center for your initial evaluation. If you need help setting up treatment, a lawyer can help point you in the right direction.
Reach Out To Our Experienced Law Firm
If you've been injured in an accident, you've probably got lots of questions about what happens next. We recommend that you contact a car accident lawyer to get the best chance of receiving the highest amount of compensation possible. Submit a contact form on our website if you would like to speak to a lawyer. We offer free consultations and there is absolutely no commitment.
What Happens if Someone Passes Away in the Middle of Their Lawsuit?
Sometimes, a person who has been injured in an accident lives for quite some time -- enough time to file a lawsuit -- but they finally succumb to their injuries and pass away while their lawsuit is still pending. Unfortunately, in medical malpractice cases and catastrophic injury cases, this happens quite often. So what happens to the lawsuit if the plaintiff dies while the case is still pending?
In the old days, the lawsuit died when the plaintiff died. However, modern law allows the family members to keep the case going even after their loved one has passed away. The law is known as the “survivor statute” -- meaning that a person’s lawsuit “survives” his or her death.
Technically, when the plaintiff dies while the case is still pending, the lawsuit will be “owned” by the plaintiff’s estate. Thus, the lawsuit will be considered an asset of the estate, just like any other asset of the estate (such as a bank account or a home). That asset (the lawsuit) can be turned into money when the case settles or when the case is won in court. At that point, the client’s share of the proceeds from the case will be distributed to the heirs just like any other asset in the estate.
What Steps Need to be Taken to Keep the Lawsuit Going?
In order to keep the case alive, there are some legal procedures that have to occur. In essence, someone has to be appointed to be in charge of the estate. Again, since the lawsuit is considered to be part of the estate, the person who is in charge of the estate is also in charge of the lawsuit when the plaintiff dies while the case is still pending. In this regard, is it much easier (and less expensive) if the plaintiff has a will that names an administrator of the estate who is given authority to control the assets and distribute the proceeds to the heirs in the will. If the plaintiff had such a will, then it will be probated and the court will issue a letter that authorizes the designated person (usually a close family member) to manage the estate. This letter from the court gives the designated administrator of the estate authority to make all kinds of decisions about the assets of the estate, including decisions about the case, including settlement decisions. Usually, these estate administrators of the estate can operate independently, without court supervision.
What if a Will Does Not Exist?
However, if the plaintiff is unfortunate enough not to have a will when he or she dies, then the situation becomes more complicated. Because there is no will, the probate court has to do a lot more work to determine who the legal heirs are. When this work is done, someone will be appointed by the court to manage the estate and the case. However, when there is no will, the court will be much more involved in supervising the activities of the estate. For example, the law firm who was handling the case before the plaintiff died will need to get the court’s blessing to continue representing the estate. Moreover, the court will have to approve any settlement of the case before final documents can be signed. Although it takes more time, work and money to get all the probate matters resolved when there is no will, if the plaintiff had a good case before death, it will be worth it to go through this process so the case can proceed.
Is There Anything Else That Can Be Done?
The bottom line is this: if the plaintiff dies before the case is over, then once the administrator of the estate is properly appointed, he or she can continue to push the case towards settlement or trial. If there are any proceeds from the case, the client’s share will go to the heirs of the estate.
In addition to the plaintiff’s survival action, there also might be a wrongful death case that close family members can bring on their own behalf. A wrongful death case is intended to compensate the family members for the loss of companionship and financial support that the family members suffered as a result of losing their loved one. In contrast, a survival action is intended to provide compensation to the estate for the pain, suffering and medical expenses sustained by the plaintiff while he or she was alive. A wrongful death case is not owned by the estate, but is owned by the family members (parents, spouses and children) who lost their loved one as a result of someone else's carelessness. Thus, the family members can bring a wrongful death case without going through any probate proceedings.
Although a wrongful death case and a survival case are different cases, when they arise out of the same tragic incident (which they typically do) then they will be brought together in the same lawsuit and will be submitted together to the same jury.
Who files the claim when the children are injured? What happens if the parents are divorced? Can either parent file a claim?
Normally, the custodial parents or guardian files on behalf of minor children. (Find out the answer to the rest of the question.) In some cases, the court will appoint a lawyer to review the file and approve the settlement of a minor’s injury claim. Typically, the defendant pays for this review.
Should my health insurance company pay for my medical bills that are caused by an accident?
If you have been involved in a wreck that was not your fault, then the careless driver’s insurance company is responsible to pay for the medical treatment for the injuries you received in the accident.
You might think that it is best to give the hospital or doctor the insurance information of the careless driver that caused the accident. This seems logical, but in reality, it is extremely unlikely that the careless driver’s insurance company will pay anything at all.
Focus On Getting The Medical Treatment You Need
So what should you do? First and foremost, you should always put your health first. Get the medical treatment you need.
Many times, a car accident lawyer will have an arrangement with some local health providers where the lawyer guarantees that all of your medical bills will be paid at a later date, usually after the case has settled. This is extremely helpful to individuals who need treatment now and cannot pay for it until the case settles.
If your lawyer cannot guarantee payment, then it is usually best to use the health insurance you would normally use for a sickness or an injury. After the case is settled, your insurance company will get reimbursed for any money paid for treatment that relates to the accident. Sometimes you or your lawyer can negotiate with your insurance company and reduce the payment amount that needs to be reimbursed.
If you do not have any insurance, you may consider getting treatment at a local charity hospital or obtaining financial assistance from a local charity organization.
We Can Help Get You The Treatment You Need
In sum, after a wreck, do everything you can to get the medical treatment you need; nothing more nothing less. Follow your doctor’s instructions and do everything you can to get better. Appropriate medical care is the most important thing you do for your health and your case. Contact our firm if you have questions. Submit a contact form today.
It is possible to sue a government entity (such as a city, school district or state) for causing my injury?
In the case of a car wreck caused by a government employee, Yes, you may file suit against the City, district, county or state. However, there are strict (and short) notice requirements as well as other limitations. In the case of injuries caused in other ways such as negligently maintained buildings or roads, filing a claim is allowed, but only in limited situations.
The person who caused the car wreck was the driver of the car in which I was the passenger. Can I file a claim for my injuries?
If you have been involved in a wreck that was not your fault, then you are entitled to be compensated for the damages that result from the accident. This is true even if you and the driver were in the same vehicle.
Injured Passengers Can File Claims. Here's How:
Even with simple accidents, if you are injured as a passenger, there are often up to four different kind of insurance coverages that can apply - the driver’s policy, the driver’s UIM policy, your own UIM policy, and your own PIP policy.
For example, let's say that you are injured as a passenger and both drivers are partially at fault. The breakdown could be as follows:
- Liability policy of the drivers: You may be able to recover under both liability policies with the driver of the vehicle you were in, and the other driver involved in the accident. Each side would pay according to his percentage of fault.
- Your driver’s UIM policy: “Underinsured Motorist” (UIM) insurance policies essentially pay for medical expenses and other damages that result from an accident caused by a driver who does not have enough insurance to cover all of the damages. If the insurance to the liability policies described above do not fully compensate you for the harm you sustained during the accident, then your driver’s UIM policy can be used.
- Your own UIM policy: If the above insurance policies do not fully compensate you, you can use your own UIM policy as well. This is true even if you do not own any of the vehicles involved in the wreck.
- PIP: “Personal insurance protection” (PIP), is an extension of your car insurance and it covers out of pocket medical expenses. Many times it is called “no-fault” coverage because it pays regardless of who is at fault and regardless of what other insurance policies have paid.
Consult A San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer
In sum, when there is an accident, it is extremely important to find all the insurance policies involved. This is especially true of you have substantial medical bills or lost wages.
I know that there were witnesses to my accident. What do I do?
In deciding who caused an accident will sometimes come down to your word against theirs. Having an independent witness can be instrumental in proving what actually happened during the wreck. If there is a witness, you may contact a witness and ask for information. Although the witnesses are not legally required to participate, they often are more than willing to help.
Information To Obtain From Witnesses
When speaking with witnesses, first gather their basic contact information such as a name, phone number, and address. If there is time, you will next want to have them give a basic description of what they saw and heard before, during, and after the accident. Write down as much of this information as possible for later reference if the insurance company tries to play games.
There are some other ways you can secure a witness statement. The police officer that arrived at the scene of the accident will create a report containing information relating to the parties involved in the accident. The report will also provide a description of witness statements given at the time of the accident. You can ask the police department for a copy of any witness contact information and give that witness a call.
Finally, video footage is extremely valuable in showing how the accident occurred. Today, cameras are everywhere and the odds that a video camera recorded your accident is more likely than you might think. You can always ask for a copy of the footage but in reality, most business or government agencies are under no obligation to help. That being said, a friendly request can go a long way. If that fails, an attorney can issue a subpoena from the court mandating that the agency release the relevant data.
Interested In Filing A Car Accident Claim?
If you were injured in a car crash, getting a third party to explain what happened is extremely important. Sometimes it will require some extra legwork or maybe even legal action by a car accident attorney. Regardless, securing a third party witness statement is definitely worth the effort and will give yourself the best chance at a successful outcome. Contact Packard Law Firm today to speak to an attorney. We offer free consultations.
How much does an Attorney cost?
In our firm, the initial consultation costs nothing. If we pursue the case, then we are paid a percentage of the recovery (⅓ of the recovery for cases that settle without a lawsuit.)