What to Do Following a Car or Truck Accident (FAQ)
Being involved in a serious traffic accident is hardly something that anyone plans for, yet hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured or killed every year in unexpected and deadly highway and urban automobile, commercial truck and motorcycle-related roadway wrecks. To find oneself laid up in a hospital bed with serious of life-threatening injuries is almost as much of a shock as the initial crash. But finding out that one’s hospital bills could amount to tens of thousands of dollars is enough to make a person wonder which is worse: the accident or the recovery.
As personal injury lawyers working in the Baltimore area, the attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, are always ready to speak with individuals who have been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle crash. We have a great deal of training and skill in auto accident law, as well as litigation experience in cases involving claims against automobile insurance companies. Although many road accidents are the result of a simple mistake on another person’s part, the victims of serious collisions end up hospitalized and facing weeks or months of recovery time. Even those who fully recover from the physical trauma can end up being bankrupted by the medical and rehabilitation costs.
As personal injury lawyers representing individuals hurt in traffic incidents across Maryland as well as in the District of Columbia, our firm believes that roadway collisions caused by negligent motorists should in no way result in the victim paying out of his own pocket for medical care necessitated by an accident he did not cause. Holding the responsible party accountable for his or her mistake is one of our primary concerns when fighting for our clients.
Quite often, we get many different questions from individuals who have either been injured themselves by a negligent driver, or who have a family member who was seriously hurt by a careless motorist. Many of the questions we get, as part of our free, no-obligation consultation, include the following, which we have listed in Q&A form:
Q: What kind of driver behavior constitutes negligence?
A: There are a range of negligent activities behind the wheel that can and do often lead to a traffic accident. These include the following:
- Inattentive or distracted driving
- Exceeding the posted speed limit
- Drifting out of the travel lane or dropping a wheel off the shoulder of the roadway
- Failure to pay attention to changing road conditions
- Failure of the driver to signal his or her intention to change lanes or make a turn
- Failure to properly maintain the vehicle’s mechanical systems
- Not correcting potentially deadly vehicle equipment defects
- Operating a car, truck or motorcycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Q: What type of monetary compensation might I be entitled?
A: The amount and type of compensation to which a victim may be entitled typically depends on the nature of the traffic collision, as well as the extent of the victim’s injuries and the amount of medical treatment needed to help the person recover from his or her injuries. If cases where an accident was the result of another motorist’s negligence, victims may be able to recover compensation for the following:
- Emergency room fees and costs for surgical procedures, plus any other medical or hospital expenses
- Lost wages resulting from the victim not being able to work or return to his job
- Rehab and physical therapy costs
- Damages associated with temporary or permanent disability
- Damages for disfigurement resulting from the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death-related costs, such as loss of companionship and/or loss of financial support
- Other accident-related out-of-pocket expenses borne by the victim
Q: I have been involved in a traffic accident. Should I see a doctor?
A: If you have any doubt or concern about your health, absolutely seek medical attention. Whenever a person is caught up in a serious beltway, expressway or high-speed collision, one should check to see if there are any obvious signs of injury. But this is no guarantee that you are physically well. It is always wise to consult a medical professional to be sure your health has not been adversely affected.
If you have obvious injuries that appear to be serious or even if you are unsure as to the extent of those injuries, you should immediately dial 911 and get to a hospital as soon as possible. Even in cases where individuals have felt “fine,” symptoms arising from head, neck and spinal injuries can develop hours later after a collision, any one of which could become life-threatening if not treated properly by a doctor. Because of this, watch for any signs of injury in the hours and days following a roadway collision.
As is often the case, aches and pains resulting from a car, truck or motorcycle crash do not necessarily crop up until 12 to 14 hours after the collision. If you feel any pain, have difficulty remembering, or feel any other type of unusual discomfort, contact a physician immediately.
Q: Should I contact the police following a traffic wreck?
A: Absolutely. It is always important to call the police immediately following an accident, even if the crash did not seem that serious. Besides potential penalties for not reporting an injury-related car crash, a police report generated following a traffic accident will be important for any insurance claim filed later on. Remember, if your car or truck sustains serious damage that only becomes apparent days later, or if you have sustained bodily injuries that are not readily apparent until the next day or two, it is vital to have an official accident report on file to prove that the crash did, in fact, occur and to show which party was at fault in the eyes of the law.
Q: Is there any information that I should record after a traffic collision?
A: As the victim of a negligence-related automobile accident, one should take down all information pertaining to the crash. This will allow you to more accurately recall the details of the accident when speaking with your attorney as well as during a possible trial. If at all possible, secure and/or document the following information immediately following a traffic collision:
- Location, time and date on which the accident occurred
- Names and contact info of all parties involved, as well as any eyewitnesses to the collision
- Vehicle descriptions (make, model and year of each vehicle involved)
- Injuries, serious as well as minor, that were sustained by you in the crash
- Insurance information of each motorist involved in the crash
Q: Is it a good idea to photograph the crash site?
A: Yes, if only for your own records. If you have a camera or smartphone available at the scene of the accident, take as many photographs as you feel is necessary to document the event. Do this even if you see the police also taking pictures of the crash site. If you don’t have access to a camera at the time of the incident, take photos of your vehicle as soon as possible after you leave the scene of the crash. This will allow you to document the property damage that has been sustained.
Q: Should I consult an attorney?
A: There is no doubt that contacting a qualified personal injury lawyer with knowledge of Maryland insurance law and litigation experience is never a bad idea. This is especially true since most attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen included, offer a free initial consultation to prospective clients. An experienced auto accident lawyer will be able to answer your questions and guide you in making any legal decisions. If you do choose to pursue an injury claim against the responsible party(s), a skilled attorney can help by collecting all of the relevant facts and details of your case, not to mention assisting you as the plaintiff to determine what actions to take against the negligent party(s).
When it comes to being seriously injured in a bad traffic accident caused by another motorist, there is usually no good reason not to consult a qualified personal injury attorney regarding your case. Since your health, as well as the financial well-being of you and your family may be at stake, fighting for your right to compensation is understandable. If you wish to seek compensation for medical and rehabilitation costs, lost wages, or even pain and suffering, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready to help. Call our offices today at (800) 654-1949, or you can email Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.