In our lifetime, it is normal for a person to be involved in three to four car accidents. Thankfully, most of these crashes will be minor fender benders that result only in property damage.
Unfortunately, many other collisions result in injuries, some of which are fatal. Regardless, being in an accident can be a terrifying experience. The shock of the crash, the pain of the injuries, and medical expenses can leave people feeling helpless and cause financial hardships. Even when a victim is expected to recover fully, the costs from a car accident injury can quickly mount up. The Law Office of Mary Higgins, LLC has two offices located in Newark and Dover; however, we represent car accident victims throughout the State of Delaware.
Attempting to deal with the insurance company without an attorney can result in frustration and confusion, and the likelihood of you being compensated appropriately for pain, suffering, and future medical care is diminished.
The Law Office of Mary Higgins, LLC will give you a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know if you are involved in an automobile accident in Delaware.
You will learn the following:
- What to do after a car accident to protect your legal rights
- How Delaware’s auto insurance system works and its role in getting you money
- Common causes of crashes and injuries
- Steps to resolve your car accident claim
- Key factors that are considered in calculating your ultimate award
- What the insurance companies do not want you to know about your car accident claim
- How the Law Offices of Mary Higgins, LLC can help
- What to look for in a car accident attorney
Why Contact a Delaware Injury Attorney After a Car Accident?
Many crash victims turn to auto accident attorneys for help obtaining the compensation they need after a wreck. Having an experienced personal injury attorney opens the door for them to investigate the crash and get the necessary information and evidence to ensure that the insurance company will be unable to disregard and, as a result, be forced to give you the compensation you deserve.
It is a fact that the insurance company will perform their own investigations into the accident, but their purpose is to protect their bottom line and not the well-being of you or your injuries. The insurance adjuster has one goal: to minimize your case value and pay out as little as possible. Claims adjusters lay traps along your journey from collision to recovery. They have been trained to do this and are good at it. Ultimately, your claim should provide you with all your past, current, and future losses.
These might include medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning potential, lost quality of life, pain & suffering, and more. Successful car accident cases rely on strong, compelling proof, and telling your story can be more effective with the added testimony from medical experts, accident reconstruction specialists, and vocational and financial professionals if your claim goes to trial. These experts can provide unbiased opinions about the accident’s impact on your life.
In addition to liability coverage, Delaware requires insurance companies to offer other forms of car insurance that are beneficial to purchase. However, it can become complicated to maneuver through when it comes to who is responsible for paying and the amount each policy should be required to pay you.
Some examples of these different policy options are:
- Uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM): This type of insurance can provide compensation from your policy if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver without insurance or with insufficient insurance to cover the total cost of your injuries. UM also applies if a hit-and-run driver strikes you. Coverage is required to be in the amount equal to the liability coverage that you purchase.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): Drivers must also be offered by their insurance company a minimum of $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, also known as no-fault insurance. PIP benefits will pay for medical treatments and lost wages from the time your doctor writes you out of work while recovering from your injuries. Using PIP can help you immediately afford at least a portion of your medical bills, with the rest picked up by health insurance.
- Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): In Delaware, you can choose UIM for added protection if an underinsured driver hits you. Let us say that the at-fault driver purchased $30,000 in liability coverage. You chose a $50,000 UIM policy. With UIM, your insurance allows you to obtain the total amounts of both policies. That means you could get up to $80,000 with UIM.
It is vital to consider purchasing as much car insurance as possible in Delaware. Too many motorists are uninsured, according to industry estimates. Suppose a driver hits you without insurance or without enough insurance to cover your injuries. In that case, you will be responsible for the remainder of your expenses if you do not have additional coverage from your policy. In addition, motorists often need help understanding the details of their insurance policy coverages.
What Are Some Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Someone else’s negligence or recklessness causes most collisions. Accidents happen when a driver fails to obey the safety rules that keep all of us safe, needlessly endangering everyone else on the roadway.
Speeding: Driving too fast gives motorists less time to react to situations that could cause them to lose control of their vehicles. Speeding is a negligent act that could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit if someone is hurt.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: Drunk driving and drugged driving can drastically impair a driver’s reaction time, judgment, and arousal levels. As a result, one person is injured in a drunk driving crash every two minutes and killed every 50 minutes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Distracted driving: Drivers are distracted most frequently by cell phones. Car stereos, GPS units, other occupants of the vehicle, eating, drinking, personal grooming, or distractions outside that divert a driver’s attention from the road.
Reckless driving: In Delaware, reckless driving is defined as “wanton or willful disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Acts of reckless driving can include:
- Driving over the speed limit.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Following too closely.
- Being aggressive with fellow motorists.
Negligent driving: A lesser charge than reckless driving, a motorist may be charged with negligent driving if they “drive a motor vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner that endangers any property or the life or person of any individual.” The difference between reckless and negligent driving can be challenging to determine, so it is essential to consult a Delaware lawyer if you are injured in a wreck.
Unsafe turns: Drivers who fail to use their turn signals, check mirrors for pedestrians or bicyclists, or turn quickly in front of oncoming traffic can be held liable if their actions lead to a crash.
Drowsy driving: A fatigued driver can be just as impaired as a drunk driver behind the wheel. Studies indicate that sleepy drivers cause 2 to 10 percent of car accidents. But unless the driver admits it or there are witnesses, it can be challenging to estimate the scope of the problem accurately.
Inexperienced drivers: Young or inexperienced drivers are more likely to make errors that could result in car accidents. As a result, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
Poor weather conditions: Inclement weather can cause vehicles to lose control, especially if the driver is speeding or is not equipped with well-maintained tires. Heavy precipitation or fog can also limit visibility, making it difficult to see other vehicles, bicycles, or pedestrians on the road or even which way the road curves.
Poor road conditions: Broken pavement, potholes, and debris can cause a tire blowout or other damage to a vehicle, spinning it out of control. In those cases, a personal injury claim may need to be filed against a state or local government. Unfortunately, these cases are overly complex with short deadlines, so if you have been hurt, you need to contact an experienced Delaware car accident lawyer immediately.
Heavy traffic: Delaware is no stranger to gridlock. When a driver is careless behind the wheel, even a seemingly minor error could result in a deadly chain-reaction collision involving many vehicles.
Poor vehicle maintenance: Cars need good tires, well-maintained brakes, good windshield wiper blades, and regular maintenance to ensure they are as safe as possible. If balding tires or improper air pressure leads to a blowout that kills a fellow motorist, the at-fault driver could be held accountable for their failure to care for their vehicle.
Vehicle defects: Car accidents cannot always be pinned on other drivers. If faulty car parts cause an equipment failure that leads to an accident, an injured victim may have a claim against the automaker or manufacturer of the defective parts.
If you need help with your case, please call our office.
I Am Injured, Now What Do I DO?
Whether you have a soft tissue injury such as whiplash, a herniated disk, or a more severe injury, you need to understand that the insurance company and claims adjuster are not your friends and are not looking out for your interests. Instead, they are paid to give you the least compensation possible and look out for their bottom line. For example, one leading insurance company’s claims manual states that someone who has an attorney can net three to five times the amount of money as someone who is unrepresented.
Here are some symptoms and examples of injuries suffered in Delaware car crashes that include:
- Trouble focusing, concentrating, or recalling things.
- These can be signs of a concussion.
- Blurred vision or double vision.
- Dizziness or Headache.
- Pain in the shoulder, neck, or back
- Tingling or numbness. Common in the limbs but can occur anywhere.
- Restricted range of motion, especially if accompanied by pain.
- Flashbacks, nightmares, or heightened anxiety.
- Common with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) after an accident.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Broken Ribs
- Cuts and Burns
- Organ Damage
First and Foremost, what is Important?
Check for injuries and call 911: If you or someone else has been visibly injured or appears distressed, call 911 to summon emergency medical services.
Contact law enforcement: Even if paramedics are unnecessary, you should still contact the police to obtain an accident report. The report will document the officer’s findings at the scene, statements from the drivers and any eyewitnesses, and potentially the officer’s opinion of who was at fault. The accident report is not legally binding but can be critical persuasive evidence in a car accident claim.
Get contact and insurance information from the other driver(s): Be sure to get the name, address, phone number, and insurance information from all of the other driver(s) involved in the accident so that you can later file a claim with their insurance company(s). Document the accident scene: Take photographs or video from the accident site if possible. Make sure to get shots of the positions of the vehicles and any physical damage. It is crucial to document environmental evidence at the crash site, including skid marks, nearby traffic signals, weather conditions, lighting, traffic congestion, and road conditions. Some cases are won or lost based on this information from the scene. If you suffered visible injuries, you should document them as well.
Identify witnesses: If there were any eyewitnesses to the accident, try to get a short statement from them or their contact information so that your car accident lawyer can get a statement from them later. Likewise, if police respond to the collision, inform them of any potential witnesses.
Seek medical treatment: Even if you do not feel like you are in a lot of pain after the accident, you should still get checked by your doctor or another medical provider if you are experiencing stiffness or somehow different after the collision. The shock of a crash can mask pain and other obvious signs of injury. However, a physician may be able to detect your injuries through a physical examination. Some people do not feel the full effects of a collision until two to three days later when they attempt to return to work or their typical routine. Promptly identifying your injuries will enable you to begin treatment as soon as possible and strengthen your claim that those injuries were caused by your car accident and not by an unrelated event.
Notify your insurance company: Ideally, you should talk to a car accident lawyer before alerting your insurer to the accident. Check your policy. You may be up against a deadline to notify an adjuster or risk losing access to coverage.
Contact a skilled Delaware car accident lawyer: An attorney for you can handle all talks with the insurance company. A lawyer will also explain all of your legal rights and options.
What Really Makes Automobile Insurance Companies Upset?
You have been in an automobile accident and call the police:
Most of us probably learned in our first driver’s course to always call the police at the scene of an accident in which you are involved. It seems logical. However, many folks involved in accidents do not. Why not? Perhaps because the other driver promises to make sure that his insurance “takes care of everything,” or that they can’t afford to pay a traffic ticket, or that the damages seem minor enough to “handle things unofficially.” By calling the police, you have made an official record of the event. You can be pretty sure that the information you receive about the other driver is accurate and truthful. After all, only a few folks will give fraudulent details about themselves or their insurance to an officer of the law. Furthermore, this official record will effectively prevent the other driver’s insurance company from denying that the incident did not occur or that their insured driver wasn’t involved in the cause of your injuries. (Yes, the majority of insurance companies will attempt to deny responsibility at every opportunity, including the fact that their driver was even in the accident with you.)
You are hurt in the accident and go to the hospital or to see your doctor:
By seeing a qualified medical professional, you are doing what is likely the safest and most prudent thing to care for yourself properly. While you may think the pain will go away, getting checked out is the only way to be as sure as possible. Hospitals, doctors, and nurses know what to ask, examine, and test following motor vehicle accidents. The best that can happen is that everything will test normally, and you go home with much less worry. Alternatively, if you have sustained a severe injury, you will be in the right place to treat it. Anyone who gets hurt in an automobile accident would seek medical care, right? Wrong; many folks who are
injured in car accidents refuse care from the emergency medical experts who come to the scene or fail to go to the hospital or see their doctor to get proper care for those injuries.
You refuse to give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company:
You can bet that within a day of your accident, you will receive a call from a professional insurance adjuster representing the driver who hurt you. You can also bet that they will tell you “how sorry they are that this unfortunate incident (they won’t even call it an accident) occurred” and “how he or she is just trying to figure out what happened.” But, Malarkey! He wants you to let him ask you a bunch of well-scripted questions that have been developed over the years, which are designed to help him later deny your claim and to get you to say things that he will later use against you. So, when you deny this request for a recorded statement, you hurt the insurance company’s ability to develop evidence to deny your claim, and they hate it when you do not do what they want.
You refuse to sign a release that will permit the insurance company to obtain your medical records:
During the first conversation with an insurance professional for the other driver, you will likely be asked to sign a Medical Authorization. It will allow that insurance company to go to your doctors, dentists, hospitals, etc., and get every piece of medical information in their files. The insurance adjuster will likely phrase his request something like this: “We need you to sign this document so that we can keep track of your medical treatment and keep enough money in the reserve to make sure that we can pay your claim.”
While it is true that insurance companies are under specific requirements to keep adequate “monetary reserves” to cover existing claims, you can be sure of two things. First, the adjuster has no intention of paying you those “reserves” voluntarily, and their goal is to acquire evidence to help him deny your claim.)
The insurance adjuster will lead you to believe that he will gather records related to the injuries you sustained in the accident. Still, he will also be looking through as much of your medical history as possible to find notations of prior similar injuries or other accidents. One of the insurance industry’s favorite tactics in denying or minimizing personal injury claims is to point to other accidents. They will use the word “accident” to describe different events in which you have been involved—going back to other injuries you have sustained in the past as being the cause of your current medical issues. The insurance professionals opposing you in this process are trained investigators who know how to read medical records. They will search as far and as wide as possible to find any history of treatment you underwent in the past. They will also go to any length in their attempts to link unrelated prior injuries to your current situation.
What Will the Law Office of Mary Higgins, LLC do for Me?
A seasoned lawyer will: Conduct a detailed investigation and ensure successful car accident claims are built upon a solid foundation of evidence. The Law Office of Mary Higgins, LLC has experienced attorneys and knows what is necessary to build a compelling, persuasive case for you. We will also know how to interview eyewitnesses to get the most impactful statement and how to secure critical evidence from third parties, such as surveillance video from nearby cameras that may have captured the accident in real-time.
Identify all liable parties: Although it may seem like a particular driver was at fault for your accident, we may be able to identify others who are also to blame. For example, if another driver illegally cut off the driver who hit you, that driver could also be held liable. We could also uncover evidence pointing to outside parties being responsible for the accident, such as a property owner, government entity, or auto parts manufacturer.
Identify all possible sources of compensation: The facts of your case will dictate what sources of compensation are available to you. A car accident attorney can pursue compensation through the insurance company(s) of the at-fault party(s), which may mean going through multiple insurers. A lawyer can also review your insurance policy to see whether your personal injury protection (PIP), or uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance might be a source of additional compensation for you. Remember that you will only be able to recover up to the number of the applicable insurance policy limits.
Communicate with insurers for you: The Law Offices of Mary Higgins, LLC can handle every aspect of the insurance claims process from start to finish. That includes reporting your accident, dealing with insurance adjusters, and managing settlement negotiations. It is essential to know that insurance companies will look for ways to minimize your settlement amount. Usually, that means looking for any way possible to push fault for the accident onto you. In Delaware, there are strict fault rules that can bar you from receiving any compensation at all. However, a skilled lawyer can fight so that you are not manipulated or unfairly blamed and let you focus on your recovery.
Timely filing: Compensation claims are time-sensitive. In addition to insurance company deadlines, Delaware has a two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims. That means you have a limited time from the date of the collision to file a legal claim. Missing the deadline could result in losing out on valuable compensation, so it is vital to act quickly.
Insurance companies and opposing counsel understand that we have built our record of success by thoroughly preparing for trial at the outset of each case. We immediately assign a team to each case to preserve evidence, investigate facts, retain experts, and initiate the legal process. By combining our knowledge with our professionally developed understanding of the law, we work hard to maximize the value of each client’s case. We know that our client’s interest is against efforts by insurance companies to minimize our clients’ financial losses and pain and suffering.
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