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When you’re in a car accident, your world comes to a sudden stop. You’re suddenly in a position where you’re vulnerable and scared – but you also have rights. This blog aims to educate drivers about their legal rights and help them understand the various types of car accidents and how they affect personal injury claims. By doing so, you can put your mind at ease and know that you are in good hands – both during and after your car accident.
Types of Car Accidents
When it comes to car accidents, there are four main types:
- Car vs. car
- Commercial vehicle vs. car
Each “type” results in different damages, injuries, and potential avenues of recovery. It’s important to hire an attorney who understands the differences in each scenario to navigate the path to the best recovery possible. Continue reading below for more details on how these different types of accidents can affect your claim.
First Things First
Whether rear-end, side-swipe, T-bone, or hit-and-run, the most important initial factor is a liability. In other words, the collision MUST be the other driver’s fault. Who received the traffic citation is important, but traffic citations are inadmissible in a subsequent civil case to prove liability. There must be sufficient facts to clearly place blame on the other driver, often referred to as the “at-fault driver” or “tortfeasor.”
Regardless of the type of collision, there are a number of things you’ll want to do immediately after the accident that can help tremendously with your case. Here are the 5 most important things you need to do immediately after a car accident to make sure your personal injury claim goes as smoothly as possible:
- Make a record of everything that happened leading up to the crash as well as how you’re feeling – this will help with the verification of the accident and your injuries. Whether you write it down or record a voice memo on your phone, just make sure it’s accessible later.
- Take pictures of the scene, the vehicles involved and any injuries you sustained.
- Take a picture of the at-fault driver’s insurance card.
- Record the name and number of any witnesses.
- Inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible to activate your policy and start the ball rolling.
How Does the Type of Accident Affect Your Claim?
The type of car accident can change your case significantly. Discussing the differences at length is beyond the scope of this article, but a few of the key issues that change depending on the type of accident are as follows:
- Car vs. car: There is a possibility that the person who hit you has no liability coverage. Florida is one of the few states in the country that does not require liability coverage (also referred to as “BI” coverage) by law. This does not necessarily mean you cannot obtain a recovery, so it is important to hire competent counsel who knows how to navigate this situation.
- Commercial vehicle vs. car: The most common type of these collisions are those caused by tractor-trailers. Most commercial policies extend high amounts of insurance coverage, which is good because injuries from these collisions tend to be significant and/or catastrophic. The insurance companies insuring truckers are very quick to investigate the collision with an eye towards painting the facts in a light most favorable to them. Sometimes they are on sight that very day, taking pictures, collecting evidence, talking to witnesses, etc. These are big cases and it is extremely important to hire an attorney asap to make sure evidence does not go missing or get destroyed. The trucking industry is highly regulated, too, so there are tons of “rules of the road” that must be followed. You need a lawyer who is familiar with these rules.
- Motorcycle: Kind of like tractor-trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents tend to involve significant or catastrophic injuries. When it comes to motorcycles, the biggest pitfall is that some of the coverages to which you are entitled under your car insurance are not required or even permitted when it comes to motorcycle insurance. Payment for immediate treatment can be tricky as motorcyclists are typically not entitled to PIP (aka “no-fault”) coverage. You can also run into the same issues as #1, above if the at-fault driver does not have liability insurance. These types of collisions can be very tricky as they sometimes involve big injuries with potentially limited recovery. You need an attorney who will dot every “i” and cross every “t” to make sure all potential avenues of recovery are thoroughly investigated.
- Pedestrians: These types of accidents include those who are hit while walking and those who are hit while riding a bicycle. Once again, these typically involve significant and/or catastrophic injuries. The potential available recovery may depend on why someone is a pedestrian (i.e., walking through a parking lot while parked close by; walking because they do not own a vehicle; etc.).
How Long Will It Take for My Personal Injury Claim To Be Resolved?
The length of time it takes for a personal injury claim to be resolved depends largely on the severity of the injuries. The case of a person with a non-surgical, yet permanent soft tissue injury and a few months of treatment may resolve much faster than the claim of a person who is catastrophically injured and requires multiple surgeries.
The length of resolution may also depend on the amount of available insurance coverage (which, as noted above, can vary depending on the type of collision). Using the same example from above, say the non-surgical, soft-tissue injury victim was hit by a tractor-trailer with $1 million in available insurance coverage. That could take months (possibly years if a lawsuit is required) to resolve. But in the case of the catastrophically injured victim, say they were hit by an individual with only $50,000.00 in liability coverage. That insurer will likely tender the $50,000.00 policy limits immediately.
If you have been in a car accident, it is important to know your rights and what you can expect from your personal injury case. This blog has covered the different types of car accidents and the personal injury claims that can be made based on those accidents. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your personal injury claim in more detail, please do not hesitate to call us today at 941.979.5229 or contact us online. No matter how big or how small your case may be, Hancock Law can help you to receive the settlement you deserve.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice nor as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.