Car Accident FAQ’s
Q. Should I stay in my car after an accident or get out?
A. Remain in the car if you feel dizzy or feel any pain. Do you best to remain calm and avoid changing positions. It is far better to wait for ambulance or EMT than to end up crippled for life. No insurance claim is going to give your mobility back.
If your airbag deployed, there may be some haze in the car, but there is no need to get out of the car hastily unless you see fire or smell smoke. If the car isn’t a safe place to be, get out of the car, and get as far away from any traffic as possible.
Q. Will remaining in my car be considered negligent?
A. If you don’t feel OK after an automobile accident, remaining in your car until help comes is perfectly acceptable behavior.
Q. What is the first thing I should do if I am in a car accident?
A. First, if you are injured, call 911. Give as many details as to your location as you can. Then call the police. While you are waiting, get as much information as possible, including name and contact information of the other driver(s), license plate numbers, and contact information of passengers and eyewitnesses to the accident. Be sure to get insurance information.
Q. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, should I talk to them?
A. Yes, you should. Whether you are the victim or the cause of an automobile accident, limit yourself to discussing the facts. Avoid taking blame for the accident or making accusations.
Q. How soon after an accident should I contact my insurance company? Do I even need to contact them, if I wasn’t at fault?
A. Whether or not you were at fault, contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Stick to the facts and let the insurance company evaluate them. Meanwhile, hiring a personal injury attorney could be very important.
Q. Is there any information I should get to support my claim?
A. Yes. You should take pictures of the accident scene if you can. This should be done as soon as possible, as evidence is often swept away within hours. Also, take pictures of yourself and any passengers immediately after the accident. Follow up with pictures a few days later, when bruises, etc. become apparent.
Q. If I feel fine after an automobile accident, should I still go to see a doctor?
A. Anyone who was in the car during an accident should consider seeing a doctor to make sure that there aren’t any hidden injuries. Often you won’t feel the effects of an injury until the next day or two. Scheduling a doctor’s visit the day of an accident is a wise precaution. When you do see the doctor, make sure to mention any complaint you may have, no matter how minor. Don’t play medical expert and evaluate the importance of a symptom. Let the doctor do his/her job.
Q. Should I contact the other driver’s insurance company?
A. Unless you want to jeopardize your case, it is far better to hire a personal injury attorney to handle any communication. Most people have no concept of how the other side can twist something you have said so that you are robbed of much of the compensation you deserve, if not all of it.
Q. How soon after an accident should I contact an attorney?
A. If there are injuries or the possibility of injuries, contact an attorney that understands car accident lawsuits as soon as possible. Whether you are the victim or the cause of the accident, having good legal advice from the beginning can make the difference between a successful case and great loss. I strongly recommend you retain counsel of an experienced personal injury trial attorney. Do Not wait.
Q. I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt when my car accident occurred. Can this be held against me in a suit for damages?
A. According to the Washington State Safety Restraint Coalition web site, failure to wear safety restraints does not constitute negligence and cannot be used to prove negligence in a civil case.
Q. I have been asked to release my medical records to the other driver’s insurance adjuster. Should I do this?
A. Absolutely not. Always consult a qualified personal injury attorney before releasing any information, or your case could be seriously impaired.
Q. If I file a personal injury claim, will we settle out of court or go to trial?
A. Many cases can be settled out of court. A lot depends on what the insurance company offers as a settlement for your claim. If we feel that the amount is fair to you, we will settle out of court. But if the offer is unacceptable, we may take the case to trial.
Q. I feel fine. Should I go ahead and settle the auto accident claim with the insurance adjuster?
A. We don’t recommend it until you have seen a doctor and made sure that all is OK. You want to be sure that all your medical costs, loss of work, etc. are covered. You will also want to get your own quotes for auto repairs before settling anything. Injuries can take years to heal and for you to recover. DO NOT be in a rush to settle even if you need the money.
Q. I feel that I may have contributed to the automobile accident. What should I do?
A. While you may feel that you are at least partly at fault, you may not be the best judge of that fact. There are many factors that contribute to an accident—alcohol, road conditions, a faulty manufacturer installation, to name just a few. It’s better not to shoulder any blame at the scene of the accident. Let more qualified investigators evaluate the accident scene.
Q. I said some things at the scene of the car accident that I now realize weren’t accurate. Will this hurt my case?
A. It is quite common for details to be incomplete at the time of an accident. After you go home, you mind replays the accident repeatedly. In the process, you become aware of details that you overlooked at first. While it is always challenging explaining why your story isn’t the same as you stated at the scene of the car accident, hiring a good personal injury attorney is one of the best ways to get the support you need for your side of the story.
Q. My air bags didn’t deploy during my car accident. Can I sue the car manufacturer?
A. This depends on which situations the manufacturer has warranted the air bags to deploy under. If the air bags failed under these warranted situations, then a qualified personal injury attorney can help you pursue your case. Otherwise, your only case is with the other driver.
Q. How soon must I file a personal injury lawsuit before I lose the right to do so?
A. In Washington, generally you have 3 years in which to file your claim but there are some exceptions. There is no hard and fast rule. You should consult a lawyer immediately to discuss your case and to determine what steps you need to take first and by when you have to file a lawsuit to avoid the statute of limitations.
Q. How much does it cost to speak with you about my situation?
A. We never charge for an initial consultation and for a review of the facts surrounding your case. Feel free to call Rob Kornfeld at 1 (800) 282-4878 or e mail Rob Rob@Kornfeldlaw.com for a free initial consultation and case review. You will get a quick response from Rob via email. Or review the main site at www.kornfeldlaw.com .
This is my car after the collision in Seattle, July-1985. Read Rob’s story….