If you drive on a regular basis, chances are that over your lifetime, at some point you will be involved in an accident. The accident could involve a minor, slow speed accident in a parking lot, or it could involve a major car wreck resulting in serious injury. No matter how safe you drive, you cannot always account for other drivers and may find yourself in a traffic accident, unsure of what to do next.
After an Accident
Immediately after an accident, you should check yourself for injuries, and see if anyone else involved needs medical attention. Even minor accidents can lead to serious injuries. The speed and forces involved in car accidents often result in head, neck, or back injuries. Neck and back injuries can sometimes take days to develop, and the individual may not even realize that they were injured. If there is any doubt about your physical well-being, you should seek a medical evaluation. Catching an injury early may help to avoid long-term consequences of a debilitating injury.
If no one is seriously injured, the drivers involved will usually exchange insurance information. This generally includes the driver's name, address, phone number, insurance company, and policy number. After an accident, it is important to get the correct information from the other driver. If you have any doubts about what the other driver is telling you, you may want to contact the police to get an accident report.
If the accident is serious, you may have to call the police to report the accident. This includes accidents where a vehicle is no longer driveable if someone was injured, where a driver does not have insurance, or a driver tries to flee the accident. The reporting officer will record their observations of the scene in an accident report. They will also take the contact information of everyone involved, and in some cases, get reports from witnesses on the scene.
Some drivers may want to avoid getting the insurance company involved and try to settle things with a cash payment. Before you accept such an offer, make sure you understand the risks involved. Your insurance policy may require you to report any accidents, and in some cases, the law may require reporting of an accident. If you fail to report the accident, the other driver may later try and blame you for the accident, seeking damages for something that you were not responsible for.
Complex Accident Claims
A simple fender bender may result in minor vehicle damage and no injuries. The insurance company may pay your claim so you can get your car repaired, and get back to your normal life. Unfortunately, car accidents can turn into complicated nightmares, especially when multiple vehicles are involved, and the cause of the accident is unclear. Multiple drivers will generally mean multiple insurance claims, insurance companies, and in some cases, multiple legal claims. Each driver may try and blame the other, and the insurance companies may not want to pay out money if they can avoid it. When the insurance company does not want to pay your damages, or only wants to offer a portion of your claim, you may want to contact an attorney.
Hiring an attorney will take the pressure off of you so you don't have to waste time fighting with the insurance company. Your experienced DC accident attorney will deal with the insurance company, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. They will seek payment from the insurance companies or the other drivers directly to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle repair.
Automobile Accident Injuries
Some of the most common injury accidents involve head, neck, or back injuries. These may be minor injuries where the individual fully recovers in a matter of days or weeks. In some cases, a back or neck injury may leave the individual with limited mobility or pain for the rest of their lives. Spinal injuries and neck injuries can be difficult for doctors to diagnose and treat.
After an injury, you and your passengers may need medical treatment, including emergency room treatment, surgery, and ongoing medical care. If someone else caused the accident, then they should be responsible for paying your medical expenses. In some cases, the other driver's insurance company may pay for your damages. Alternatively, depending on the accident and your insurance, your own company may pay for your medical care. Unfortunately, the insurance companies do not always do what they are supposed to.
Some insurance agents may claim that the injuries are not as serious as the injured driver claims. They may even have you submit to a so-called independent medical examination by a doctor of their choosing. This doctor may offer a different diagnosis, which the insurance company may rely on to deny your claim, or reduce your payment. It can be extremely frustrating to be suffering an injury that the insurance company claims is not that bad. In these situations, you may want to hire an attorney to fight back, to make sure your claims are taken seriously.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Washington D.C. has one of the lowest rates of fatal motor vehicle accidents per vehicle miles traveled. In 2014, drivers in D.C. traveled 3.5 billion miles. During that year, there were 21 fatal crashes resulting in 23 deaths, which equates to 0.65 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Other states, such as Delaware or West Virginia, have almost double that rate of deaths per vehicle miles traveled.
Statistically, most deadly accidents involve a single vehicle, not multi-vehicle accidents. Almost two-thirds of fatal accidents in Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia involve single-car crashes. Many of these fatalities involve drivers who were speeding, distracted, or intoxicated, often times without wearing a seat belt. Failure to wear a seatbelt is one of the primary factors in fatal injury accidents.
Fatal accidents can result in complex legal cases, even for the driver who did nothing wrong. In some cases, a fatal accident can even lead to criminal charges. If a driver is driving recklessly and seriously injures or kills another individual, they may face manslaughter charges. If a driver is under the influence of alcohol at the time they injure another person, they could also face criminal charges. This includes injury to a pedestrian, another driver, or even the passenger in their own vehicle.
Washington DC Auto Accident Attorneys
Some of the most common personal injury lawsuits in D.C. involve automobile accidents. An injured individual can seek compensation from the person responsible for causing the accident. Contact an attorney with experience in handling automobile injury accidents to make sure you don't have to pay the price for an accident you didn't cause. If you were injured in an accident, contact the law firm of Gilman & Bedigian. Our experienced attorneys have years of experience handling motor vehicle and personal injury cases throughout the DC Metro Area. Do not hesitate to contact our offices today for a free consultation.