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After the Crash: Why a good auto accident lawyer can change the trajectory of your life
Motor vehicle crashes happen more frequently than you might think – and it's not until you are in an accident that you realize how many of your friends, neighbors, friends' neighbors, social media contacts, and co-workers have shared your anguish and anxiety. Whether it's a single vehicle crash, a vehicle collision, a motorcycle accident, a fender bender or a total car loss, there are emotions and stresses that are universal to accident victims.
The economic cost of motor vehicle accidents is alarming. In 2018, Connecticut reported that the total cost of traffic deaths for the year was $434 million. That includes medical costs associated with accidents, as well as MVA lost-time claims. And as the average cost of motor vehicle repairs increases, so, too, do the costs for injuries and fatalities in a court of law. There are also economic impacts for your community, and your accident could change the way child restraints are installed, rural roads are maintained, and speed limits are designed and enforced.
Motor vehicle crash injuries can be caused by many things - excessive speed, cell phones and mobile phone use that lead to distracted driving, road surface damage, drowsy driving, impaired driving, vehicle factors - and any of these possible factors can occur anywhere and without warning. Whether you were the driver at fault, or you sustained motor vehicle accident injuries as a result of a negligent driver's carelessness, you will most likely be traumatized, especially in cases involving fatal crashes. And you may find that the motor vehicle accident is just the beginning - time spent in a hospital emergency department, hospital bills and other costs may augment your physical injuries with financial pain.
If you've been in a serious crash, you are not alone. The US Department of Transportation noted that, in the first six months of 2021, there were more than 20,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes -- up 18.4% over 2020.During the study period, it was found that, although motor vehicle crash deaths can be caused by the influence of alcohol, distracted driving, an increase in average speed on roads throughout the country or incorrectly installed child safety seats (these are all factors noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), almost all accidents boil down to one thing - human error. That is something that no driver can avoid.
In the difficult time after a car crash, you are likely to find that everyone suddenly turns into a "personal injury attorney", and everyone seems to have a different take, especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer. You'll get lots of advice – all well-meaning, but definitely not all based in fact.
Some of the frequent types of comments you may have heard:
“You really don't need a lawyer – your insurance company will work it out, and your insurance rates will increase just a little.”
“If the police came to the scene, you don't really need a lawyer.”
“Lawyers can get you way more money – even if you're not injured!”
“It's too much trouble to try to find a personal injury lawyer, and they're super expensive.”
"Just file an insurance claim and the company that provides your auto insurance coverage will take care of everything!"
Statements like these may have a grain of truth to them, but there are some things you need to know about how to get a skilled attorney involved in your case, and when you should consider that option. Aaron Jainchill and Bill Beckert, principals at the Plainville, CT legal firm of Jainchill & Beckert, Attorneys-at-Law, recently reviewed some of the questions they hear most often, and, as experienced attorneys (unlike your friends and neighbors!), they shine some factual light on the questions that are most often asked, and what you need to consider if you've been in an auto accident.
Questions and Answers from Accident Lawyers
Should I go to the hospital after an automobile accident? What if I'm not hurt badly, or I'm not sure I have an accident claim?
After you've been in an accident, you may be tempted to run for the comfort of home, especially if you're not in pain or severely injured. Not so fast, says Attorney Jainchill. “In general, I recommend that you go to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any level of pain or discomfort,” he offered. “Often, injuries don't appear immediately after the crash, and adrenaline could mask some of the pain you will feel later. This is especially true in rear-end collisions. Whiplash and concussions don't always show up right away. It's worth going in for an evaluation, even if it was a minor car accident. What's more, that visit could be important to your case later.”
Fortunately, vehicle safety improvements have come a long way, and auto makers implement mechanisms like air bags and enhanced framing to minimize motor vehicle accident injuries and risk of death. But the human factor being what it is, a visit to the hospital, even for a minor crash, is generally a good idea.
It's always a good idea to call the police to the scene, especially if there were others in your car, or other vehicles involved. The police are trained to look for forensic clues - things like the position of your car following the accident, the extent of property damage, and any environmental factor (such as weather or road conditions) that could have played a role. Trained policemen can also do a quick evaluation of your condition and make a recommendation about further treatment following an accident. If the policeman at the scene recommends an ambulance ride, it's always a good idea to comply.
Who will cover my Injury expense?
Who covers your medical costs will depend on the specifics of your accident. However, a general rule of thumb when figuring out who pays for accident injuries is as follows:
If your automobile insurance coverage includes medical payment, that is primary when obtaining medical care to evaluate injuries from road traffic. It will be critical to give the contact information and claim number of your insurance company to the medical provider to ensure accident insurance cover.
If you don't have medical payments coverage, or if your medical treatment expenses exceed your coverage limits, your health insurance will cover the remaining medical expenses. In that circumstance, you are responsible for co-pays, and will be reimbursed by the at fault party at the time of settlement If you don't have health insurance, many medical providers (but not all) will provide treatment to you if you promise to reimburse them for the bills when your case is resolved. In this circumstance, it is critical to have a lawyer, as we can generally help you locate and gain access to treatment when you don't have health insurance.
Attorney Beckert commented, “Navigating healthcare is tricky on a good day! A traffic accident with medical injuries makes it makes it even more complex! Health care that surrounds a car accident - gathering medical records, obtaining and submitting an accident report, and answering detailed questions from a medical professional or police officer -- is best left to the experts. It's worth talking to an experienced auto accident lawyer who has knowledge of the specifics of healthcare. The right law firm can help you get the details of your coverage taken care of so you can move forward with your life, especially if you suffered a more serious injury.“
How Soon After a Car Accident Should I Look for an Auto Accident Attorney?
If you were an accident victim, it is important to find a reputable legal team immediately after any accident in which you sustained injury or loss -- and before speaking to the at-fault party's insurance company. “If you are injured, it is critical to retain counsel as soon as possible, since what happens early on after an accident can be pivotal to whether you receive the rightful compensation for your physical and emotional distress,” Attorney Jainchill advises. "If you are the at-fault driver, it will be even more important to get in touch with a lawyer who understands motor vehicle law right away. An accident or motor vehicle collision lawsuit can be very complex, so you will want an experienced lawyer representing you for things like punitive damages and insurance policy limits.
Who Should I Turn to for Legal Advice? Are There Lawyers Who Specialize in Auto Accidents?
There are lawyers who have specialized skills to help you navigate the often-frustrating world of determining loss costs and being compensated after a vehicle crash. It's important to do your research before hiring someone to help you. You'll need someone who is comfortable with the laws that are relevant so they can determine what types of damages and legal opportunities exist for you. You will need someone who is comfortable dealing with insurance adjusters and the particulars of your insurance policy. Depending on your circumstances, you might also need to be defended against accusations -- things. like exceeding speed limits, neglecting the safety of other road users, driver factors, an expired or invalid driver license -- so that may also be a factor in your research.
Attorney Beckert suggests a sit-down first. “There are lots of great lawyers who can help you, but you need advice from a legal team who is not just competent and skilled, but also someone you feel comfortable with, and someone you trust. We always invite potential clients who believe they may have a personal injury claim to come in and talk to us. It's important to us at Jainchill & Beckert to know what the whole picture looks like and what your goals are. And if we don't think we're the right law firm for the job, we'll help you find the attorney that meets your needs.”
Is it Worth Getting an Attorney After an Accident?
If you face severe injuries (or even a minor injury, for that matter) in an accident and wish to get paid for your losses or damages, even if you have automobile insurance coverage, it is well worth speaking to an attorney. Hiring a lawyer who understands the legal landscape and details of topics like no fault insurance (in the states in which it is required), automotive mechanical failure, slippery roads, leased car accidents, the type of insurance policy that you have, the rules around blood alcohol concentration (if they apply) and the specifics (with motorcycle accidents, for example) is definitely worth the investment. Attorney Jainchill recommends a conversation regardless of the situation. “At Jainchill and Beckert, we offer a free consultation. We're happy to look at your situation, listen to your story, and give you our thoughts on what you might need going forward.”
What If It's Just a Minor Accident, or Only My Car Was Involved?
If your injuries are not severe or you did not suffer any damages or losses in the collision, you might not need legal representation. But Attorneys Jainchill and Beckert both say it's always a good idea to see what your options might be. “I would suggest that, if you have any questions, you contact us for a free consultation,” offered Attorney Beckert. “It couldn't hurt … and it could help you understand whether you have a case. An experienced lawyer can also defend you in the case of alleged insurance fraud - something that is on the rise in Connecticut.”
Do I Need a Copy of a Police Report?
The simple answer is “yes.” From Attorney Jainchill: “A police report contains vital information that provides evidence proving the cause of the crash, any physical injuries you may have suffered, the actions of drivers around you, and any damage to your vehicle. It also documents property damage and evaluates the accident scene. Don't take the chance of being unprepared. After a crash, stay where you are and contact the police. That will help the legal process work the way it's supposed to.”
What is the Typical Contingency Fee in a Car Accident Case in Connecticut?
Under Connecticut law, the contingency fee for the typical auto accident case is 33 1/3% It is important to note that our fees are different from expenses. We will advance any costs necessary to assist the development of your case. You will reimburse these costs from any settlement at the time the case is resolved.
Will I Have to Pay Money Up Front When I Hire a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer?
Generally, no. Before you proceed with any legal representation, you should ask about your ultimate financial obligation. Attorney Jainchill adds, “You may or may not be responsible for paying the upfront court fees and litigation expenses. The best auto accident lawyer will be clear about fees and expenses from the very start.”
Is There a Deadline or Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit To Recover Compensation for Injuries?
As a plaintiff who has suffered injuries as the result of someone's negligence in driving a motor vehicle, you have up to two years to file a lawsuit in Connecticut in most instances (although there are certain circumstances in which that time limit may be shorter or longer.) That means that, in most cases, you can bring a claim against the defendant within two years from the date of the accident. Other states' statute of limitations regulations vary, so it's best to act sooner rather than later. An experienced car accident lawyer or law firm can help you understand the statute of limitations in your state or region.
Can a Lawyer Help Me To Get a Car Rental?
“Absolutely!” says Attorney Beckert. “If you need a rental car, we can guide you through the process of securing one without putting yourself into financial stress -- as an accident victim, that's the last thing you need! As long as you, or any other vehicle owners involved in your accident, have insurance, your rental car costs should be covered.” Attorney Jainchill adds, “This is another place where Jainchill & Beckert can take some of the stress off of you – it's what we do, and it's how we meet our goal of helping you to feel informed and empowered. We take some of the burden off your shoulders.”
Importance of Hiring an Auto Accident Attorney
1.To Get a Fair Compensation
An auto accident attorney will fight for your case on two parallel fronts: The insurance company and the court of law. This professional will be able to not only help you understand the next steps for filing a lawsuit or settlement but also help you prepare for negotiations with the insurance company.
2. To Prove Liability
Car accident attorneys use an evidence-based approach to determine liability. We rely on the testimony of witnesses, police report, and any physical evidence available to establish who caused an accident. We are specialized in tackling different scenarios in regards to liability. In some cases, we even reconstruct the accident scene to determine who was at fault for a car accident.
3. To Fight for You
Car accident attorneys fight for a client by challenging the presumption of negligence, collecting relevant evidence, and making a persuasive argument. They find out the other driver's insurance policy limits, your uninsured motorist coverage, etc. Say that the fault is at the other party; attorneys will use your uninsured motorist coverage to help you fully compensate for medical bills, lost wages, etc.
4. To Guide Your In the Court Process
Auto accident attorneys are legal professionals that specialize in the intricate laws that govern the negligent party responsible for the accident. They will guide victims through the process after a car accident, including collecting evidence, obtaining police reports, and preparing for negotiations with insurance companies.
5. To Communicate With the Insurance Company
Auto accident attorneys help victims best understand their legal rights. It is often difficult to know what kinds of compensation are available or how much money may be awarded in a settlement. But auto accident attorneys like us know these things and are fully prepared to answer any questions during this process.
6. To Have Peace of Mind
A car accident can be an extremely traumatic event. It's hard to deal with the aftermath of physical injuries and emotional trauma. The process of filing an insurance claim, getting medical attention, and dealing with your work schedule can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Having an auto attorney at your side will help you get peace of mind.
7. To Receive Compensation Faster
An attorney's work is to increase the chances of receiving your settlement faster, often without risking missing out on any benefits. We can do this because we have experience in negotiating with insurance companies. Not to mention the familiarity we have in doing all of the paperwork involved in an injury claim.
8. To Gather/Analyze Evidence
Evidence is collected by surveying the accident scene, talking with witnesses, analyzing photographs, and the like. Analyzing these findings, an auto accident attorney will construct an argument. The attorney will research the relevant case law to determine whether there are precedents for a successful lawsuit against the defendant.
Why Should You Choose us as Your Car Accident Attorney
1. We Advise You on All Fronts
We at Jainchill & Beckert advise clients on various aspects of car accidents. This includes the value of the damaged vehicle, lost time at work, medical bills, and pain and suffering. In addition, the legal process can be complicated and overwhelming. We can help you go through this by helping you fill out the paperwork and representing your interests in court.
2. We Help You Gather Evidence
Evidence such as CCTV camera footage, remnants from the accident, vehicle onboard computer systems are the key in a car accident case. We will review the details of the accident, gather evidence from eyewitnesses to negotiate for a fair settlement. The pieces of evidence also help us demonstrate how the other party is liable for compensating you.
3. We Help You Strengthen the Case
We strengthen cases by understanding the finer details of the accident and how they relate to particular elements of negligence. We also construct a detailed timeline of how the accident took place so that we can explain to the court how badly the defendant was at fault for the collision.
4. We Have a High Success Rate
Jainchill & Beckert has a high success rate of recovering losses and damages. Our success has been attributed to our team's expertise and vast understanding of the law, as well as our diligence in battling for our clients' rights. We are glad to say that our firm's success rate is much higher than the average in areas, including Middlesex and Litchfield counties.
5. We Have a Proven Track Record
Jainchill & Beckert has helped many victims obtain the compensation they deserve. From minor fender benders to more complex cases involving permanent injuries, we have handled many cases. Contact us to understand your rights and options.
6. We Offer Free Consultation
We know that for some, getting into an accident is the straw that broke the camel's back, and they can't afford any more expenses. Hence, we offer a free consultation for our clients. This will help you make an informed decision. We'll stand by you to ensure that the process is as seamless and hassle-free as possible.
7. Major Law Associations Accredit Us
Our legal firm is accredited and certified by various organizations, including Super Lawyers and the American Association for Justice. We are also a part of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association and Connecticut Bar Association. Our consistency in providing our clients with premier service earned us awards from the American Association of Personal Injury Attorneys.
8. We Make You Feel Comfortable
We know that the process of handling a car accident case is so overwhelming that many victims don't know where to start. Our team can relieve some of this stress by dissecting the incident, looking at all angles, and advising what steps are necessary next. We will assist with insurance claims, police reports, locating witnesses, and evaluating medical records.
If you or someone you know is considering options following a car crash and you’re searching for the best auto accident lawyer, Jainchill & Beckert is a great place to start. We invite you to learn more about us, hear from our clients or Fill out our form and set up a free consultation with us. Or get in touch with us at (860)-351-5254 – we’re ready to help you get past your accident and into your next chapter.