Should I see a doctor after a car accident, even if I do not appear to be injured?
In almost every case, it is better to err on the side of caution and get yourself checked out immediately after an accident for both medical and legal protection. Medically, you may have issues such as soft tissue damage or whiplash that you might not immediately feel, and your doctor can examine you, diagnose you, and guide you through the proper steps for recovery.
Legally, it is important to document the effects of your accident as quickly as possible. If you do not visit a doctor until a few days or weeks after your accident, insurance companies may claim that your injuries were not caused by the accident, are not severe enough to merit compensation, or they may claim that you are simply trying to get as much money as possible without actually having a substantial claim.
Can I still file a claim if I was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident?
Laws about not wearing a seatbelt as a defense in a personal injury case vary from state to state. In Nevada, if you were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of your injury, and not taking this safety precaution greatly increased your injury, your award may be reduced accordingly. A defendant in a car accident personal injury claim, however, may not use the fact that you weren't wearing a seatbelt as an argument that the defendant did not cause the accident. Basically, even if you were not wearing a seatbelt when you were injured, you can still pursue a claim or lawsuit if you were not at fault for the accident, although your award may be reduced.
What if I might have been partially to blame for the accident?
As in the previous question, even if you were partially liable for the injuries, you may still be entitled to substantial compensation for your injuries. Nevada practices what is known as “comparative negligence.” This means that either the insurance adjusters or the court will decide what percentage each party is at fault. If the defendant is found to be, for example, 30% to blame for the accident, their total award will be reduced by 30%. For example, if the award associated with your claim is $10,000, and you were 30% responsible for the accident, you will receive $7,000 in your claim. If a defendant is more than 50% responsible for an accident, however, the claim will be dropped and they cannot collect.
Who might be liable for injuries that I have sustained in a car accident?
In most cases, the driver of the car who caused the accident will be the party liable for your injuries, and you will file a claim with their insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit naming them as the defendant. If you were a passenger in a car that caused an accident, you can still file a claim against the driver of the other vehicle. In some cases, other factors may have been the root cause of the accident, such as the setup of an intersection which would make the city or state liable, or a failure of the airbags to deploy, which could initiate a products liability lawsuit.
Who should I release my information to during the claims process, and what information should I retain?
If you have filed a claim with another driver's insurance, they will most likely ask you for a copy of your medical records or ask you to make a statement without consulting an attorney. Do not provide them with anything before consulting a lawyer who has your best interests in mind. Claims adjusters, who work for insurance companies, are almost always trying to offer you as little as possible in a settlement, and they can use anything you give them as evidence against you later on. Try to avoid giving them names of personal friends and family, your social security number, or descriptions of any prior injuries.
It is important, however, to keep track of and preserve all evidence that relates to the accident for your own records. This includes medical records, the police report that was filed concerning your accident, witness statements, photographs taken at the scene, and any physical evidence that may be obtained.
What kind of reimbursement can I get for car accident injuries?
There is a variety of damages that can be claimed in a personal injury claim or lawsuit, falling under the two basic categories of economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages include quantifiable bills and related expenses that the accident has caused, such as medical bills, car repair or replacement, time off of work for recovery, and any loss of future earning capacity if you have sustained substantial and permanent physical injuries. In the case of wrongful death, economic damages may also include things like funeral expenses.
Noneconomic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, mental anguish associated with disfigurement or readjustment to life with a physical or mental impairment, and loss of enjoyment of life. In personal injury suits where there was reckless endangerment, intent to cause harm or criminal misconduct such as driving under the influence of alcohol, punitive damages may also apply. As the name implies, these damages are meant to punish the behavior of those responsible for the injury and to discourage others from repeating the offender's conduct.
How long do I have after an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit?
There are three kinds of lawsuits commonly filed after an automobile accident. Personal injury cases, in which someone was injured, including a driver, passenger, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or pedestrian, must be filed within two years of the date of the injury. This time frame is called a “statute of limitations.” Similarly, accidents in which someone was killed may merit a “wrongful death” claim. In these cases, the family of the person who was killed also has two years to file a claim after the date of the victim's death. Note that in a wrongful death case, the death may have occurred after the date of the accident, and the two-year time window begins at the later date.
If you were not injured in the accident but you are considering filing a claim for property damage concerning your vehicle or other property, you have a window of three years in which to initiate a claim or lawsuit from the time of the accident.
What is the best first step in the process of filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit in Las Vegas?
First, you should notify the other driver's insurance company and your own insurance company, even if the accident was not your fault to maintain the good-faith relationship between you and your insurance company. Next, it is always a good idea to contact an attorney, especially if your injuries are substantial or the other driver's insurance company is denying liability.
Although it is possible to go through the claims process on your own, the settlement that an insurance provider offers you may not cover the extent of your injuries or all the associated costs of missing work, providing for those who depend on you, and dealing with the long-term effects of the accident. Every car accident is different, and experienced legal counsel can help you decide what the best course of action may be in your case. To get in touch with a Nevada auto accident lawyer today, call The Jacks Law Group at (702) 834-6300 or contact us online.