Biloxi Car Accident Lawyers Providing Legal Services and Advice for Clients Hurt in a Car Accident
Being hurt in a car accident is a scary and upsetting event that can leave you with both physical and emotional scars. The situation is often aggravated by a growing stack of medical bills that keep arriving while you are unable to work and trying to recover from your injury. Our attorneys have helped countless clients injured in car accidents in the Biloxi, MS area and share key pieces of information you need to know if you need to recover compensation for your damages.
What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
If you have been involved in a car accident, your priority should be your own safety and the safety of anyone else affected. If anyone is injured, call 911 or seek immediate medical help. If it is safe to do so, gather information from the scene of the accident that may later be used as evidence for your claim. Take pictures, record video, and take note of the contact information and insurance information of the other driver involved in the accident. If there were any witnesses, write down their contact information as well.
You may also want to report the accident to law enforcement, and if an officer is dispatched, try to obtain a copy of the police report. Make sure to report the accident to your own insurance company as well as the at-fault driver’s insurer. In addition, even if you don’t feel hurt, it may be a good idea to be examined by a doctor shortly after the accident. Many injuries take days or even weeks to manifest any symptoms, and it may be harder to claim that your current injuries are a result of the accident and not due to a separate event without adequate medical records documenting the progression of your injuries.
Are You Required to Report a Car Accident to Law Enforcement in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, there is no law requiring drivers involved in a car accident to call the police if the accident was minor and there were no serious injuries. However, if someone was hurt or if property damages exceeded $250.00, the accident must be reported to the police within 10 days. Failure to report an accident may be considered a misdemeanor and could result in a suspended driver’s license.
It is also important to mention that it may be in your best interest to report the accident right away, especially when you believe the other driver may have been mostly at fault for it. A police report can be an important piece of evidence that can be used to support your claim. In addition, some insurance companies may require you to file a police report as part of the process of initiating a claim. Even if the accident is minor and an officer is not dispatched to the scene, you will be able to show that you attempted to report the accident to law enforcement.
How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?
In order to determine who is mostly at fault for a car accident, evidence from the scene of the accident (such as pictures, videos, witness statements, footage from traffic or surveillance cameras, etc.) plays an important role. If there is a police report, it is also used by insurance adjusters to help determine which party caused the accident. When law enforcement comes to the scene of the crash, they may record key information on their accident report, such as a diagram of the vehicles, the extent and location of vehicle damage, and whether factors such as driving distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol may have contributed to the accident.
In some cases, fault cannot be determined by the drivers, police, or insurance adjusters, and sometimes another factor such as poor weather conditions or a poorly-maintained roadway may have also contributed to the accident. Such cases may require arbitration in order to be resolved, but some drivers may prefer to take matters to court and resolve the issue through litigation. In Mississippi, you may seek compensation for damages after a car accident even if you were mostly at fault for it, but the amount you may receive might be reduced depending on the percentage of blame assigned to you. In cases where fault cannot be determined, it is important to work with an attorney that can help you maximize your potential compensation amount.
What Should I Do if I Get a Call From an Insurance Adjuster?
Shortly after an accident, you may receive a phone call from the other driver’s insurance company asking for an interview or a statement. You may want to be careful with what you say, and can also ask them to speak to your attorney instead. That is because insurance companies are businesses and therefore are mostly interested in protecting their bottom line, and to achieve that, insurance companies try to cut their losses by minimizing the amounts they pay for each claim.
The insurance adjuster may seem friendly and caring, but they are usually simply looking for a way to get you to admit that you were at fault for the accident or partially contributed to it, and use what you said to reduce the value of your claim or try to deny your claim altogether. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to the adjuster, you can refer them to your attorney. Your attorney will be better equipped to handle their questions without compromising your ability to receive full compensation.
Who Will Be Financially Responsible for My Accident?
An auto accident can have one or more parties who will be held financially responsible. In most cases, the drivers will either share the responsibility, or one driver will bear the majority of fault for the accident. In this case, compensation may usually come from the at-fault driver’s insurance. In some instances, depending on your insurance policy, you may be able to file a claim through your own insurance carrier. By working with your own insurance company, you may have to pay a deductible but will likely receive payment in less time. Your insurance may then seek compensation from the other driver’s auto insurance provider. Every policy is different, so always check your policy before proceeding.
It is possible to have a government entity as an additional responsible party in an accident when there is solid evidence that the crash was caused in part by hazardous roadway conditions. A road with deep potholes, poor lighting, dangerous turns, overgrown vegetation that obstructs the view of road signs or with a defective design are just a few examples of hazardous conditions that could possibly have been prevented if the government entity responsible for maintaining that particular road (such as the state, county or city) had taken the necessary precautions to eliminate the dangerous condition.
This type of case usually requires a plaintiff to follow specific steps and observe shorter deadlines to file a claim, and the help of a skilled car accident attorney is almost always necessary in order to obtain a favorable outcome. There may also be a limit to how much money you may be able to recover, but if a claim against a government entity is successful, the plaintiff may be entitled to compensation for damages resulting from the accident.
What Types of Damages May I Be Entitled to Receive After a Car Accident?
If another driver is largely responsible for the accident, you may be entitled to receiving payment for your medical bills and for your damaged vehicle through that driver’s auto insurance policy. Additional damages compensation may be available if you are seeking reimbursement through litigation. Most civil lawsuits following an auto accident seek to compensate the victim (the plaintiff) for both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are tangible losses such as medical bills, costs of repairing or replacing the vehicle, lost wages and any other material loss resulting from the accident. These are easily documented and can be objectively analyzed. On the other hand, non-economic damages are more subjective and refer to the psychological and emotional impact the accident and resulting injuries may have had on the victim.
A car accident can be a traumatic event, and the resulting injuries (and sometimes the recovery process) may be rather painful and cause significant emotional distress. That is why non-economic damages are often referred to as pain and suffering. Both types of damages are usually included in a car accident civil lawsuit in order to provide restitution to the victim for any and all consequences of the car accident.
In general terms, the severity of the accident determines the amount of your settlement. Accidents resulting in extensive property damage and serious injuries may bring a higher settlement than a minor fender-bender. Unfortunately, when dealing with an insurance company, it is all too common for that insurer to pressure the car accident victim into accepting their initial settlement. Their first settlement offer is often made quickly and is often much lower than it should be. This is a common practice among insurance companies, as closing out a claim in the shortest amount of time possible and for the smallest settlement possible is a way for them to protect their profits. It is important to know that you are not required to accept their initial offer, regardless of what they might tell you. If you refuse their initial offer because it is too low and does not cover all your damages, the insurance carrier will simply have to come back with a different offer. As always, it is best to speak to an attorney before making any decisions or accepting a settlement offer.
When Should I Seek the Help of a Car Accident Attorney?
From the initial investigation of the scene of the accident to post-trial procedures, a seasoned car accident attorney can be an important ally that may make all the difference in your case. When you are injured and trying to recover after your car accident, you deserve to spend time taking care of yourself and enjoying the company of your loved ones. The last thing you would want to deal with is an endless stack of paperwork and constant insurance phone calls, while trying to figure out what your next step should be and where your money will come from.
A car accident attorney can handle all aspects of your case on your behalf – from the most trivial tasks such as filling out forms and handling paperwork to the most crucial tasks, such as negotiating a fair settlement amount, handling insurance phone calls and preparing your case for a court trial if necessary. Your attorney is likely very familiar with how insurance companies operate, and knows what to do to help you obtain maximum compensation for your accident.
In addition, an attorney is well-equipped with the legal knowledge and experience to help prove liability – a step that can be harder than it may seem to be. In a state like Mississippi, where your compensation amount is affected by the percentage of blame assigned to you, an attorney has the important task of gathering the right evidence to show that the other party is mostly (or entirely) at fault for the accident, thus maximizing your potential compensation amount. An attorney can build a strong case by leveraging evidence from the scene of the accident, case law, expert witnesses and many other tools you may not be aware of or have access to without the help of your lawyer.
At the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our legal team has the right combination of knowledge and skills to help you achieve a positive outcome for your car accident case. Our car accident lawyers have been serving injured drivers in Biloxi, MS and surrounding areas for many years, and have a thorough understanding of the steps required to obtain fair compensation after a car accident.
The lawyers at the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC are skilled negotiators, and can help you with your case even if it does not go to trial. If you have been hurt in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligent actions, there is no reason to try to face it all on your own. Our firm can offer you the legal help you need to receive payment for your damages and get back on your feet without having to jump through hoops or deal with the hassles that often come with a car accident claim. Contact our Biloxi, MS office by calling 228-338-1515 and requesting a no-commitment initial consultation to discuss your case and see how we can help.