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redinsmb

Should I contact a lawyer?

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My family was in an accident today with a wrong-way driver (100% her fault, multiple witnesses, two of which are police officers who happened to see it happen) and we're all okay, very sore and shaken up but no broken bones or blood.  We didn't want to pay the ER deductible so we're seeing our family physician tomorrow.  I think I've got the worst of it with back/neck pain and I must have braced myself with my leg because my ankle/knee/hip are all very sore in addition to the chest pain from the airbag hitting me.

 

I was speaking to a friend who insisted that I should speak with a lawyer, but I just don't know.  I'm not the "lawsuit type" but I'm also not wealthy enough to deal with ongoing medical bills if my joint issues turn out to be something that doesn't heal or needs physical therapy.

 

Is this something I should contact a lawyer about?  Thanks in advance.

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Never hurts to talk to a lawyer and review your options.

 

But you don't actually have to hire one right away.

 

If injuries are relatively minor and everybody recovers nicely in a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months, the claim isn't going to be worth much and you can probably handle it yourself with maybe a little coaching from a 35 year veteran of the insurance industry (me).

 

Couple of things you can do right away (not necessarily in the order listed):

 

1 - If you already know the other driver's insurance information, call that insurance company first thing tomorrow and report the accident. See if there is a claim number and adjuster's name available. Also get a fax number and/or email address for whoever you can send paperwork or notices to. The response from that end should tell you whether that insurance company will give you grief or not.

 

Report back to this thread (don't open new ones) with the results.

 

2 - Get yourself a copy of the police report. They are usually available within a week or so.

 

3 - If your car is drivable, take it to a couple of body shops and get estimates so you know what repair cost ball park you are in. If it's not drivable, it likely was towed somewhere. Find out where ASAP and find out what the daily storage charges are. They are usually outrageous. If the other driver's insurance company accepts liability quickly it will get the car out of storage and into one of their own facilities and pay the storage fees. If the company starts giving you a hard time, immediately report the claim to your own insurance company under your collision coverage. If you don't have collision coverage and the other insurance company gives you a hard time you are going to have to get the car towed to your home to avoid getting stuck for the storage charges.

 

4 - Get whatever medical treatment you and your family need.

 

Feel free to come back to this thread and discuss anything you like. I'm here every day.

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Thanks for the information, I'll keep you updated.

 

Right now we don't have the other driver's insurance information, she opted to go to the hospital to be checked out (she got out of her car and seemed the same as us, shaken and bruised/sore but not incapacitated.  She does have insurance, but her driver's license is from out of state so I'm not sure if that will hold anything up.  We're going to try to get a copy of the police report as quickly as possible, since it occurred in the city of Chicago I guess that means it can take up to 2 weeks for our insurance agency to get the report.

 

Our car is being towed to a "preferred autobody" place by our insurance today, we'll call later on and see how we go about knowing what the damages are.  Unfortunately, we don't have rental car coverage on our policy so that means we are without a vehicle for however long it takes to get ours repaired (which also means walking my 5 year old 1 mile to school every day, totally 4 miles per day of walking for me - a mile there and back twice a day, which sucks because I'm very sore).  

 

I called my doctor today and the office is trying to get me in to be looked at, my injuries seem minor in the grand scheme of how bad they could have been, but my shoulders keep popping and my muscles and joints (especially those in my neck and hip) are very sore.  I had an old injury to my shoulder that required physical therapy years ago and I'm terrified that I'm going to have to go down that road again after this.

 

The accident was 100% the fault of the other driver.  She fell asleep behind the wheel at 11am after working a long shift as a resident in a hospital and drove down the road into oncoming traffic.  The driver in front of us managed to swerve out of the way by going into the oncoming traffic lane and he stopped and gave a statement.  My husband didn't swerve (there just wasn't anywhere to go, being a city street there were cars parked to the passenger side and oncoming traffic on the driver's side), he hit the horn and brakes at the same time and we watched helplessly as this woman plowed right into us head-on without even seeming to slow down.  The car behind us witnessed the whole thing, both of those witnesses were on-duty police detectives.

 

We declined the ambulance because we knew it would traumatize our 5 year old who was in the backseat and seems uninjured, he had a bad ER experience years ago and we just wanted to calm him down and try to reduce the stress on him, he was hysterical.  We also were very conscious of the massive copay we would have had to pay if we went to the ER.  As it stands just thinking about the accident gets me shaking again, there is nothing like the feeling of sitting in a car and watching someone plow straight into you and knowing there is nothing at all you can do and after the accident the horrible feeling of having to jump out of the car and get my son away in case someone else hit us, there was smoke, I think that it was from the airbags, but at the time I wasn't sure if the car was on fire and my son was hysterical, my husband was driving and he was disoriented and yelling to see if we were all okay and all I could think was that I had to get my son out of the car and somewhere safe.  It's just such a horrible experience and as a parent knowing that if my husband has swerved this woman could have hit the rear passenger door where my son was in his booster seat is just terrifying.  We're very lucky, despite it all.

 

Our insurance says that we will be reimbursed for our $600 deductible by the other driver's insurance company, so that's a bit of good news, but we're looking at a couple weeks of severe inconvenience because of this.

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We spoke to our neighbor who is a police officer and he is having a buddy bring by a copy of the full police report this afternoon and I'll immediately email a copy to our insurance adjuster, so that should help speed things along for us.

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Guest FindLaw_Amir

To learn more about this subject matter, you may be interested in visiting the Accidents and Injures Center and reading Car Accidents as a good resource. If you need further clarification on your specific concerns, you may consult with a local Car Accidents Lawyer. A local car accidents lawyer may help you determine what to do immediately after an accident, who's at fault, how to handle potential medical issues, and recover for injuries and damages.

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The other driver has AAA insurance of Michigan, she also has a court date for the accident and the accident report states very clearly that she was at fault.  I emailed a copy of the police report to our insurance adjuster so hopefully everything can get underway ASAP and we can get our car repaired.  Tomorrow morning we have an appointment with the body shop for the estimate and to give them permission to start work.  I went to the doctor today so I have record of my injuries in case they don't heal properly and cause me problems down the line, my doctor also requested X-rays of my shoulder since I'm having some weird "hit my funny bone" type feelings in my arm and my shoulder/neck is very sore.  

 

Hopefully this will all go smoothly, we'll heal up nicely and the car will be repaired, and will be a bad memory a month from now.  I'm still just in shock that this happened and in no hurry to get back into a car.

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I'm unsure what prompted all the info in the follow-up posts (seems more appropriate for Facebook or diary)(smile), but I second adjuster's advice.

You're free to ask the other driver's insurance company to approve a rental car, or seek reimbursement for the charges.  Ultimately, the decision not to get rental car coverage is on you if you know you don't have the means/credit to address it (cars can go kaput for all sorts of reasons).

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The other driver has AAA insurance of Michigan,

 

AAA is national. Apparently the same regional serves Michigan and Illinois.

 

Start by calling the following number that I got off their website and see if you can get routed to somebody who will take a claim report from you.

 

866.968.7222

 

They may be able to agree to reimbursing you for a rental car.

 

Meantime, you are still entitled to the cost of a rental car as part of your claim against the other driver. So, if you need one, get one. Many car rental companies have reduces rates for people involved in accidents and many insurance companies have agreements with rental car companies to provide reduced rates that they pay for direct.

 

 

Hopefully this will all go smoothly, we'll heal up nicely and the car will be repaired, and will be a bad memory a month from now.  I'm still just in shock that this happened and in no hurry to get back into a car.

 

You're right. You do come out the other side when things like this happen. I've had several auto accidents where others have been at fault, ranging from minor to major.

 

The way your deductible works is that your insurance company will take care of your repair bill less the deductible then send the bill for the full amount to the other company for reimbursement. Once reimbursed for the full amount your company will send you the deductible.

 

Keep in touch through this thread if you have any questions.

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Does anyone know how I calculate the permanent loss in value of my car (which we just bought last year) now that it has been in an accident?  I'm going to be sure to ask the at-fault driver's insurance company to reimburse us for that lost value but I'm not sure how exactly to calculate that.  Is this something I will have to bring up with the collision adjuster or the medical adjuster?

 

I was also told by my medical adjuster that I should expect that the at-fault driver's insurance will offer us reimbursement for medical bills and "pain and suffering" and that when they do, I should contact my insurance company's medical adjuster to make sure I am being offered a fair amount before I sign anything.  Is that pretty standard?

 

The at-fault driver has contacted her insurance and taken full responsibility for the accident, so now we're just looking at compensation and dealing with possible ongoing medical issues caused by the accident and this is new territory for me.  I don't want to have to hire a lawyer, but I also want to be certain that we are being fairly treated by her insurance company.

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