Why should I call a personal injury lawyer if I am hurt in a car accident?
The answer depends on many factors:
- How badly injured were you?
- Did you visit the Emergency Room or your doctor to be checked?
- How much are your medical bills?
- How much has the insurance company of the person who harmed you offered to pay for your medical bills, your inconvenience, your pain, and your time lost from work?
Call Mr. Burstein ASAP. Insurance companies have unwritten rules, and if you don’t know how to protect yourself within those rules, you’re going to lose. If you wait days or weeks before contacting Mr. Burstein, you might severely weaken your ability to get sufficient medical care and weaken your legal rights.
Does the amount of damage to my car have anything to do with how badly hurt I might be?
There is no correlation between the damage to your car and the injuries which the person in the car suffers. A small amount of property damage does not necessarily mean that the driver or passengers of a vehicle were not badly hurt. An honest doctor will assess the injuries of the person based on his or her careful examination, not on the cost to repair the vehicle.
How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer?
To determine if your case is strong enough to begin work on your behalf, you would first go to the office of Mr. Burstein for a consultation. There is no charge for this appointment. The fee to resolve your case depends on the circumstances of its resolution; whether it is settled before a lawsuit is filed or afterward. The lawyer’s fee is 1/3 of the recovery before suit and 40% after suit. Much additional time is spent during a lawsuit.
When should I seek medical attention?
The sooner you are seen by a medical professional following an automobile accident, the more credibility you will have with the insurance adjustor, judge, or jury assigned to your case. Don’t be a hero and suffer for a week to see if you might get better.
Should I see a medical doctor or chiropractor about my injuries?
This is a personal choice. A chiropractor will treat you himself/herself. A medical doctor will likely refer you to a physical therapist or occupational therapist, depending on your injuries. A medical doctor can prescribe medication, but a chiropractor cannot. The object is for you to recover from your injuries. If one professional cannot help you make progress toward that goal after a period of time, it is time to get a second opinion.
How much medical treatment will I need?
This question will be answered jointly by you and your medical professionals. Two weeks of physical therapy might be all that one person needs while a person in a similar accident might need X-rays, MRI’s, weeks or months of physical therapy or chiropractic care, consultations with specialists, and possibly surgery if all else fails to reduce their level of pain.
What information should I get from the other driver at the scene of the accident?
Get as much information as possible. Take a clear picture of the other person’s driver’s license and registration. Never simply let him write down his information for you. You will need his/her name, address, phone numbers, driver’s license number, license plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN). Also get the name, address, and phone numbers for the vehicle’s owner. Sometimes it is necessary to sue both the driver and the owner of the automobile, and sometimes one can be sued without the other. Also write down the year, make, model, and color of the other vehicle, and note all damage to that vehicle which was caused by the accident. It is very helpful to take pictures of both vehicles and the damage to both vehicles before the cars are moved. However, be very careful while you are in the street. Do not take any chances of being struck by any other vehicle which is passing the scene.
Should I call the police?
If the other driver refuses to exchange information with you or is hostile, call the police. If the other driver is cooperative, the police may not be necessary. Most police departments will not respond to a call regarding an accident unless:
- Someone needs an ambulance. If you need an ambulance, do not hesitate to request one. It tends to indicate a great degree of immediate pain.
- One or more of the vehicles needs to be towed;
- A public vehicle, such as a taxi, bus, or police car, is involved.
A police officer may interview witnesses, issue traffic citations, and determine fault.
Is it important to get the name of a witness?
Unfortunately, people who cause car accidents often lie about the circumstances of the accident. Insurance companies do not want to pay you any more money than they have to, and the responsible party does not want his or her insurance rates to increase for the next three years. So, an insurance company representative can help them re-word the facts to be in their favor, long after you have left the scene. Eyewitnesses often mean the difference between winning and losing your case. Don’t be shy about asking witnesses for their information. Get their name(s), addresses, and phone numbers. If he/she is in a car, record the license plate number as well. Remember this whenever you see an accident, too. Somebody else needs your help.
Will my own car insurance pay for my medical bills if I don’t want to make a claim against the other guy?
Yes, if you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or MedPay as part of your insurance policy. Especially in Maryland, it is one of the best insurance values for the money. You can make a claim against both your PIP and the other person’s insurance. If you live in the District of Columbia and the accident happens in DC, in most cases you must choose between making a PIP claim or making a claim against the other person. If you live in DC but the accident happens outside of DC, you can make both claims. One more rule about the District of Columbia PIP is that it is secondary to your health insurance.
How much car insurance should I buy?
You should buy as much insurance as you can afford. Insurance companies change their rates yearly, so, shop around for the best rates every year, if possible. The minimum policy amounts are usually not enough for many accidents and you will have to pay the rest of a claim yourself out-of-pocket. Insurance policy premiums rise very modestly when you increase your liability coverage. The same is true when you increase your PIP or MedPay coverage above the minimum. NEVER reduce your uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits below the amount of your liability coverage. You are at least as important as the other person.
Additional Questions? Please call 301-960-4114 or email Mickey@bursteinlegal.com.