PROTECTING YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS IF YOU ARE IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT
If you have been injured in an auto accident, take steps to protect your legal rights. If you are seriously injured and incapacitated at the scene of the auto accident, there is not much you can do right then. When you are able, start documenting what happened. I recommend that you retained lawyer who is board certified in personal injury trial law as early as possible. The insurance carrier for the party whose negligence caused the accident will most likely have a team of professionals working early to keep you from making a recover of your legal damages.
Most people who are injured in an auto accident are running on adrenaline at the scene and they do not immediately realize they are hurt. If you are injured, be sure to get prompt medical attention. If an EMS unit arrives at the scene to take you to a hospital, the EMS personnel will write a detailed report of the accident, all of your complaints, and their findings. Be sure not to understate the severity of your condition. Be complete and honest.
Get photographs of the damage to the vehicles as soon as possible.
In most auto accidents, a police agency will investigate and the investigating officer will complete an accident report. Get a copy of the report as soon as possible. The reports are usually available within seven days of the accident. Contact the investigating officer to get a copy of the field notes. The field notes often identify witnesses and what the witnesses told the investigating officer.
Get the EMS report. It is important to see what the EMS personnel documented.
Often, fire departments come to the scene of an auto accident. The fire department personnel often take photographs and make reports. Those photographs and reports are important evidence, and should be obtained.
Be aware that insurance carriers for the negligent driver are never going to settle a claim until any subrogation liens are satisfied. Subrogation liens arise when your medical treatment is paid for by private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, the Veteran’s Administration, or when the hospital where you were taken files a hospital lien. Those subrogation liens are always subject to being reduced through negotiation. Board Certified personal injury attorneys have experience in getting those liens reduced and getting a written agreement from the lien holder as to the amount the lien can be satisfied for.
A Board-Certified personal injury attorney will analyze all the insurance that exists that is available to pay your damages. Often the negligent driver has minimal amounts of liability coverage. The attorney will analyze your own insurance policy to guide you with uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages.
There is no such thing anymore as a simple auto accident case. The Texas Legislature and Supreme Court has given insurance companies first right to your settlement though subrogation laws. Beginning in January 2014, the Civil Practice & Remedies Code did grant the auto accident victim some relief from subrogation claims, but that law is very technical.