Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accident Cases
In our FAQs, our skilled lawyers have compiled answers to the most common questions our clients ask about car accident cases. Browse our frequently asked questions to get the answers to your own questions about filing a claim for compensation following your car accident.
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How long does it take to settle a car accident claim?
If you are thinking about filing a claim for compensation for your injuries in a car accident, you will want to know how long it will take to settle your claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, each case is different. Some can settle in a few months, while others can take a year or longer to resolve.
Factors That Affect How Long it Will Take You to Settle Your Auto Collision Case
The insurance company could offer you a quick settlement in an effort to pay you less than the true value of your claim. However, it is rarely in a car accident victim’s interest to accept the insurance company’s first or second offer. Here are some factors that affect the time it takes to settle these claims.
Seriousness of Your Injuries
If you suffered serious injuries, you would be entitled to your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in your settlement. You need to wait until you reach your maximum medical improvement, which is the stage where you fully recover or recover as much as you will, before settling your case.
Why is this important? You cannot know how much you should receive in future damages until you reach this stage in your recovery.
Who the negligent driver’s insurance company is can have an impact on how long it will take to resolve your claim fairly. Some larger insurance companies will fight harder and longer to reduce the amount they pay car accident victims.
In addition, if you suffered long-term injuries, the value of your claim will be greater. The insurance company will raise even more disputes in an effort to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve by wearing you down.
If there are true questions about who was at fault in causing your collision, it could take longer to convince the insurance company of their liability. You may have to collect additional evidence or hire an expert witness to resolve this dispute.
If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline to sue, will expire soon, you will need to retain an experienced car accident lawyer. While you may still settle your case before it goes to a jury trial, it could take longer to resolve it if you must litigate your case.
Do you want to know how these factors could affect your claim? Do you need help negotiating your settlement? Call our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation with our skilled car accident legal team to get your questions answered and learn why we are the right attorneys for your case.
Should I accept a quick settlement of my car accident case?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, you are probably worried about how to pay your medical bills and your living expenses while you are off work recovering from your injuries. You may be tempted to accept the insurance company’s offer of a quick settlement to get your money and get on with your life. However, here are three reasons this could be one of the biggest mistakes you could make in your case.
Reason #1: A Quick Settlement Is in the Insurance Company’s Interest
If the insurance company offers you a settlement soon after you file your claim, it is important to understand why they are doing this, which is to save money. They will most likely start negotiations by making a low-ball offer of far less than you deserve in hopes that you will accept a quick settlement.
Reason #2: You Will Have to Sign a Release
When you settle your claim with the insurance company, you will have to sign a release before receiving your payment. By signing this legal document, you acknowledge that this is a full settlement of your case, and you waive your right to any further compensation for your injuries. If you later discover that your injuries are more serious than you originally thought, you would not be able to reopen your claim and obtain more money.
Reason #3: You Do Not Know the Seriousness of Your Injuries
Under New Mexico law, you are entitled to both past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the negligent driver. You cannot know how much your claim is worth until you reach your maximum medical recovery. This is the stage in your medical treatment where you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you can, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis.
It could take you months or longer to reach this stage in your recovery. It is important to wait until you reach your maximum medical recovery to settle your claim because you cannot know what future medical treatments you will need and whether you can return to work until you reach this point in your treatment.
What You Should Do If the Insurance Company Offers You a Quick Settlement
If you receive a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster, you should not make any decision on accepting it until you have retained an experienced car accident attorney. You should never agree to settle your case or sign any documents without first consulting with a lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
The legal team at The Injury & Disability Law Center is here to advise you of your options and fight for all the compensation you deserve. Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.
How soon after my car accident should I see an attorney?
You should retain an experienced car accident lawyer in Roswell as soon as possible after your car accident. He can do more to help you and strengthen your claim if you hire him right away. Here are four reasons why this is important if you want to receive all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Reason #1: Preservation of Evidence
One of the first steps your lawyer will do is to conduct an investigation of the cause of your collision and collect the evidence you need to prove the other driver was negligent. Crucial evidence could be lost if you do not obtain it quickly. Here are a few examples of what you could lose:
- Witnesses to your crash could disappear, or their memories may fade if their statements are not taken right away.
- A business surveillance tape that may have recorded your accident as it occurred may be taped over if it is not obtained quickly.
- Vehicles involved in the crash may be repaired before they can be inspected by an accident reconstruction expert if the cause of the crash is in dispute.
Reason #2: Help You Avoid Mistakes
You could inadvertently make mistakes when filing your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company if you are not represented by an attorney. You may say something you did not mean that can be interpreted as an admission of fault, agree to give a recorded statement, or sign the insurance’s company’s blanket authorization for release of medical records. A lawyer can help you avoid these and other common mistakes victims make that hurt their right to compensation.
Reason #3: Negotiate Your Settlement
The insurance company may try to get you to accept a quick settlement of your claim for far less than it is worth. A lawyer who has handled many auto accident cases will be able to accurately value your claim and fight with the insurance adjuster so that you receive all the money that you deserve in your settlement.
Reason #4: File Your Lawsuit
You have a certain deadline, which is called the statute of limitations, to file your lawsuit against the negligent driver under New Mexico law. If his insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, your lawyer can file your civil complaint before the deadline to do so expires.
These are just some of the benefits of hiring a skilled lawyer as soon as possible after your car accident. Take advantage of our offer of a free consultation to learn about your legal options and how we can assist you. Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule your appointment today.
My child was hurt in a New Mexico car crash. What should I do?
An auto accident can be even more terrifying if your baby or child is in the back seat. Because he may not be able to communicate with you or understand what has happened, it can be hard to determine if he is crying because he is frightened or hurt. Here are four important steps you want to take to protect your child’s health and legal rights.
Your first step should be to call 911 and to wait for the police and the emergency medical technicians (EMT) to arrive at the accident scene. Do not move your child out of his car seat until the first responders arrive to avoid making his injuries worse. While you are waiting, put on your emergency lights to help avoid being in another collision.
Seek Medical Care for Your Child
If your child is not transported to the hospital, you should contact your pediatrician and have him examined as soon as possible. It is important to follow his physician’s advice and continue with all necessary medical treatment.
You also need to know the warning signs of more serious injuries to watch for at home. If your child is crying excessively, sleeping more than normal, not eating, or has lost interest in his toys, this may be a sign that he is experiencing symptoms of additional injuries. Even if he was already examined by his doctor, you should obtain prompt medical care for him.
Replace the Car Seat
You should replace your child’s car seat unless you were involved in a very minor car accident with little damage to your vehicle and no injuries. It may be structurally damaged and may offer insufficient protection if you are involved in an accident in the future.
Retain an Attorney
You should hire an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. He can file your child’s claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company and negotiate his settlement so that he receives the compensation he deserves for his injuries. Your attorney can also help you comply with any additional procedures that may be necessary before settling your child’s claim due to the fact that he is a minor.
Call our Roswell law office to schedule a free consultation to learn about your child’s legal options and how we can assist you in protecting his legal rights.
Who pays for my physical therapy after a car crash?
If you are hurt in a car accident in New Mexico, you could suffer serious injuries, such as back, shoulder, and neck injuries, broken bones, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries. In many cases, physical therapy can be a vital part of your medical treatment. When you are off work recovering with no income, it can be a big worry to determine how to pay for your necessary—but costly—physical therapy.
Who Is Responsible for Paying for Physical Therapy?
When a negligent driver causes your auto collision, he is responsible for paying for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Physical therapy is a medical expense that you are entitled to be reimbursed for.
If the negligent motorist has auto insurance as required under New Mexico law, you would file a claim for compensation with his insurance company and include your physical therapy bills as part of the amount that you are claiming. Here are some important considerations:
- You can receive both your past and future physical therapy expenses from the negligent driver’s insurance company.
- If you must travel to receive this or other medical treatment, you are entitled to be reimbursed for your travel, food, and lodging costs.
- The insurance company will not pay your physical therapy or other medical bills on an ongoing basis. Instead, they will reimburse you for these expenses as part of your settlement.
If you have health insurance of your own, it may initially pay your physical therapy bills. However, the insurance company may be entitled to reimbursement once you settle your claim.
Documenting Your Physical Therapy Expenses
It is crucial to document these medical costs because physical therapy is often needed several times a week for a number of weeks, months, or on a long-term basis, and the medical bills can be costly. The key to proving your right to compensation is to have the proper documentation. Here are some tips on how to build a successful claim:
- Get a referral from your doctor for your physical therapy treatment and keep a copy of it for your records.
- Keep detailed records of your appointments with your physical therapist.
- Save a copy of all bills for your physical therapy sessions.
- Attend all of your physical therapy sessions and follow through with your therapist’s advice. If you miss appointments or do not follow his medical recommendations, this gives the insurance company ammunition to argue the seriousness of your injuries and the need for this therapy.
Contact Us for Help With Your Car Accident Claim
Obtaining compensation for your physical therapy and other necessary medical treatments from the negligent driver and his insurance company can be complicated, and they may fight to deny or reduce your claim. We’re here to explain your legal options to you and negotiate your settlement so that you receive the compensation that you deserve. Call our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation to get started.
Are punitive damages possible after a New Mexico car crash?
If you are injured in a car accident in New Mexico, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain suffering from the negligent driver who caused your collision. Depending on his actions when causing the crash, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well.
What You Must Prove to Be Entitled to Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are not designed to compensate car accident victims. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish a negligent driver for especially egregious conduct and to deter him and others from engaging in that type of wrongful behavior.
It is not easy to establish that punitive damages should be awarded in a car accident claim. In New Mexico, it must be proven that the other driver engaged in one of these types of egregious conduct:
- Malicious conduct. Conduct can be malicious if it is an intentional wrongful act done, knowing that it is wrong.
- Willful conduct. A negligent driver can engage in willful conduct if he intentionally engages in an action that he knows could harm others.
- Reckless conduct. A motorist’s conduct may be considered reckless if he intentionally takes an action with utter indifference to the consequences.
- Wanton conduct. Conduct may be wanton if it is done with total indifference to or with a conscious disregard for the rights or safety of others.
It is up to the jury to decide whether punitive damages should be awarded. The jury is permitted to consider the property and wealth of the negligent driving in making an award. The amount of punitive damages must be in proportion to the driver’s conduct and wrongdoing.
When Can You Sue for Punitive Damages in Car Accident Cases?
Punitive damages are not available in all auto collision claims. They are most commonly awarded in cases where a driver was driving while intoxicated (DWI) either due to alcohol or drug use. Other types of accidents where punitive damages may be justified are when the motorist was driving at an excessive speed above the speed limit or was engaged in road rage behaviors that caused a crash.
How Our Experienced Attorneys Can Assist You
Were you injured in a car accident? Was a family member killed? Let our experienced car accident lawyers help you hold the negligent driver and his insurance company accountable for fully compensating you for your injuries. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis so you only owe us attorney fees when we settle your claim. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation.
Can I file a lawsuit if my loved one died in a New Mexico car crash?
It is never easy to lose a family member, but having a loved one killed in an auto accident can make the grief even more painful. Fortunately, you may be able to seek compensation from the negligent driver in a wrongful death action. While this will not lessen your pain, it can give you justice and help you move forward in your life.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action in New Mexico?
Under New Mexico law, a personal representative of the deceased person’s estate must file a wrongful death action again the at-fault motorist. If the deceased had an estate plan, such as a will, he would have appointed a personal representative or executor in this document. The personal representative is frequently a surviving spouse, adult child of the deceased, or adult sibling. The court can appoint a personal representative if the accident victim did not have an estate plan.
While the personal representative represents the deceased person in the car accident lawsuit, he does not decide how the settlement proceeds are distributed. The beneficiaries of the victim’s estate would be entitled to these funds.
Time Period to File a Wrongful Death Action in New Mexico
The statute of limitations is the deadline a person has to file a lawsuit and can be different depending on the type of legal claim being pursued. Under New Mexico law, the time period to file a wrongful death action is three years from the date of the deceased’s death. If a lawsuit is filed after this deadline has expired, the judge will most likely dismiss the complaint.
Damages Awarded in NM Wrongful Death Cases
If the other driver’s negligence in causing your loved one’s death is proven, the personal representative can seek damages on behalf of you and any other beneficiaries. The types of compensation that you may be awarded include:
- Medical expenses caused by the car accident
- Reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of the deceased’s companionship
- Mental anguish
- Any pain and suffering your family member suffered due to his injuries before his death
- Your loved one’s financial contribution to your household
- Loss of inheritance
- Punitive damages to punish the driver if his actions were grossly negligent
Our Experienced Attorneys Are Here to Help
If you have lost a loved one in an auto collision, our skilled and compassionate car accident lawyers are here to explain your legal options to you and take over the burden of filing your wrongful death claim so that you can focus on your grief. To schedule your free consultation, start a live chat or fill out our convenient online form.
Who is responsible for a multi-vehicle crash?
If you suffer injuries in a multi-vehicle accident in New Mexico, you must prove which driver was at fault in causing your collision in order to receive the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. These cases can be much more complicated than crashes involving just two autos. You will need the assistance of an experienced car accident attorney if you want to win your case.
Common Causes of Multi-Vehicle Accidents
There are many reasons that negligent drivers cause multi-car pile-ups, and more than one person may be partially to blame. Common causes of these accidents include:
- Tailgating another vehicle
- Drowsy driving
- Distracted driving, such as talking on a cell phone, texting, or fiddling with vehicle instrument controls
- Not driving for weather conditions
- Failing to follow traffic laws, such as failing to yield at an intersection, not using turn signals, or making an unsafe lane change
How to Identify the Negligent Drivers
An experienced lawyer will know how to conduct a thorough investigation of your collision to determine who was at fault in causing it. He may recommend retaining an accident reconstruction expert who can examine the evidence and create a reenactment of how your crash happened.
As part of his investigation, your attorney will collect and analyze evidence that will help him identify the negligent drivers. This can include the following:
- Pictures of the accident scene and damage to the vehicles
- Police report
- Witness statements
- Surveillance tapes from nearby businesses
- Traffic camera footage
- Statements of any drivers involved in the collision
- Cell phone records
Negotiating Your Settlement Can Be Complicated
Because more than one driver may have caused your accident, you may have to file claims for compensation with more than one insurance company. They may try to point the finger at each other in an effort to deny any liability or reduce the amount they have to pay in settlement of your claim. A lawyer will be able to conduct complex negotiations with multiple insurance companies simultaneously to ensure that you receive what you deserve in your settlement.
If you were injured in a multi-vehicle crash, our experienced car accident attorneys are here to provide you with the personalized legal assistance that you need. To learn more about your legal options and how we can help, call our Roswell office today to schedule your no-obligation consultation.
How can I determine whether or not a drowsy driver caused my vehicle collision?
Too many motorists cause serious collisions because they are too sleepy to operate their vehicles properly. Drowsiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness, impairs judgement, and increases collision risks. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving caused 795 fatalities during 2017.
Drowsy Driving Causes
Most drowsy driving collisions occur when drivers drift out of their lanes or leave the road, leading to head-on collisions, sideswipes, and side-impact accidents. Drowsy driving is often caused by:
- Shift work. Employees who routinely work the night shift or irregular hours may suffer from sleep deprivation, causing them to drive while they are exhausted.
- Alcohol. Alcohol consumption can increase a driver’s drowsiness.
- Sleep disorders. Drivers with undiagnosed sleep apnea or narcolepsy may fall asleep while they are on the road.
- Sedating medications. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications can induce drowsiness in motorists.
Drowsy Driving Evidence
Unlike alcohol and drug testing, there are no tests to determine whether or not a motorist is guilty of drowsy driving. However, an experienced vehicle accident attorney can gather evidence to prove that the driver was drowsy, including:
- A lack of skid marks at the accident scene, indicating that the sleepy driver made no effort to stop the vehicle.
- Work or school attendance records, which may be used to show that the motorist was suffering from a lack of sleep.
- Prescription records for medications known to induce drowsiness.
- Cell phone records, social media posts, and credit card records proving that the drowsy driver had been awake for an extended period of time.
You Need the Representation of a Skilled Vehicle Accident Attorney
Fatigued driving can be just as risky as drunk driving, and victims of these accidents need representation by a skilled vehicle accident attorney. If you’ve been hurt by a drowsy driver, your attorney can gather evidence to establish the driver’s negligence, and help you receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the Injury & Disability Law Center by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
Do I have to go to court for my car accident case?
The vast majority of vehicle accident cases are successfully settled out of court. However, a competent attorney will be prepared to go to trial if doing so is in a client’s best interest.
Settling a Vehicle Collision Case Out of Court
There are a few reasons why car accident cases typically settle out of court, including:
- Insurance companies normally want to settle. Vehicle collision defendants rarely pay judgements out of their own pockets. Instead, their insurance company is typically responsible for resolving the claim, and they generally want to do so as soon as possible.
- Both parties wish to avoid the unpredictability of a trial. The outcome of a trial is never certain. When a vehicle accident case goes to court, the plaintiff risks receiving nothing, and the defendant risks having to pay a huge judgement. While a settlement may mean that neither party gets everything they want, it also allows both the plaintiff and the defendant to control their risks.
- The plaintiff wishes to receive compensation as soon as possible. Due to the time value of money, a payment received today is more valuable than the same payment received a year from now. Additionally, vehicle accident victims often have bills piling up due to extensive medical expenses and loss of income. Settling out of court allows a plaintiff to receive payment relatively quickly, so bills can get paid and life can return to normal.
- Both parties wish to minimize the cost of litigation. Litigation is expensive, particularly when a case drags on for years. Both sides must endure the costs associated with procuring evidence, hiring expert witnesses, and taking depositions, but a settlement minimizes these expenses.
An Attorney Can Help You Prepare for the Best Outcome
While it is generally in a plaintiff’s best interest to settle a vehicle accident case out of court, the particular circumstances of your claim will determine the best course of action. We are always prepared to go to trial when necessary, in order to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the Injury & Disability Law Center by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.