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 will it take to get my check after settling my car accident claim?
It could take a long time to settle your car accident claim. The insurance company for the negligent driver could use many tactics to deny your claim or try to pay you less compensation than you deserve for your injuries.
When you finally reach a settlement, you will be anxious to receive your check. Unfortunately, you will not get it immediately because you must complete several final steps before the insurance company releases your payment.
What Are the Final Steps in an Auto Collision Settlement?
Understanding what steps must be completed before you receive your settlement check can make the wait easier. You should not settle your claim or sign any legal documents without first consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer. They will also ensure that the insurance adjuster is doing what they are supposed to do to finalize your settlement.
It could take up to four to eight weeks before the process is completed. Here are the steps that you can expect to happen:
- Release. Before the insurance company writes your check, they require you to sign a release of all claims form. In this legal document, you would agree to accept the settlement amount and to waive any claim for future compensation. It could take several weeks for the insurance company to draft the release and revisions proposed by your attorney to be made.
- Check. After the signed release is sent to the insurance company, they will issue your check. Depending on their procedures, it could take a week or two for them to do this and send the payment to your attorney.
- Expenses. Your lawyer would deposit the check into a client trust account. Once it clears, they would pay any medical liens and other bills you owe.
- Attorney fees. The next step would be for your lawyer to deduct the attorney fees and litigation costs from the remaining settlement proceeds.
- Your payment. The last step in the process of settling your claim is to send you your check. Once you receive it, your case will finally be completed.
Were you injured in an auto collision in Roswell, Carlsbad, Artesia, or Southeast New Mexico? Our knowledgeable and dedicated car accident legal team is here to explain your options to you and go up against the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve in your settlement.
We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us no attorney fees until we win your case. To schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation, call our Roswell office or fill out our contact form today.
What’s the difference between filing a claim and a lawsuit?
If a negligent driver caused you to suffer injuries in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation from them. You have two options for obtaining the damages you deserve: filing a claim and filing a lawsuit. While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are very different processes, and it is important for you to understand how they differ.
What Is an Auto Collision Claim?
The first step you will take to seek compensation from the at-fault motorist would be to file a claim with their insurance company. While you can file your claim on your own, it is best to retain an experienced car accident lawyer to file it for you. This process is an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement of your claim.
Your lawyer would send the insurance company a demand letter advising them of your claim, how the other driver’s negligence caused the crash, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. An insurance adjuster would be assigned to investigate your claim and determine how to respond to your attorney’s demand for compensation.
Unfortunately, even if you have a strong case, the insurance company will most likely try to deny your claim or offer you less money than you are entitled to in order to save money. Your attorney may need to collect additional evidence or hire expert witnesses to refute the insurance adjuster’s arguments. Your lawyer may go through a series of offers and counteroffers with the insurance company before negotiating your settlement.
What Is an Auto Accident Lawsuit?
If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to file your complaint, will expire soon, your attorney would file a lawsuit in court on your behalf. Here are the steps involved in litigating your case:
- Complaint. Your lawyer would file a civil complaint in court. Your complaint would contain the same basic information as in the demand letter and ask the court to award you the damages you deserve under New Mexico law.
- Answer. The negligent driver would be served with your complaint and would file an answer to it admitting or denying the allegations. They would most likely deny everything and raise defenses as to why they are not liable to pay you.
- Discovery. The longest stage in your case will be the discovery phase. The attorneys for the insurance company and you would obtain information from each other and third parties to support their case and defeat the other side’s arguments. Written questions, referred to as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions are the common types of discovery used in car accident cases.
- Negotiations. When your lawyer believes it would be productive, they will engage in negotiations with the attorney for the insurance company. It is likely that you will reach a settlement of your case at some point in the litigation process.
- Trial. If your case is not settled, it would be decided at a jury trial where you would have the opportunity to present your evidence and testify about how the accident occurred, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. After both sides present their arguments, the jury would decide how much damages, if any, to award you.
If you or a family member were hurt in an auto collision in Roswell, our dedicated car accident lawyers are here to explain your options and go up against the insurance company so that you receive your fair settlement. To find out more about how we can assist you and our track record of success in these cases, start a live chat or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free case evaluation today.
How soon after my accident should I see a doctor?
The steps you take after an auto collision can have a direct impact on the amount of compensation you receive from the negligent driver’s insurance company. One of the most important things you can do is to obtain prompt medical treatment. Here’s why you should be examined by a doctor within 48 hours—even if you do not believe you were hurt.
How Getting Prompt Medical Care Protects Your Health
You may not see the need to go to your primary care physician if you did not suffer an obvious injury. Unfortunately, you may not realize that you suffered a serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding, or a back or spinal cord injury, until days or longer after the crash when symptoms develop.
You protect your health and will heal faster if your injury is diagnosed sooner. In addition, you avoid a potentially life-threatening emergency by seeing a doctor right away.
How Obtaining Immediate Medical Treatment Strengthens Your Car Accident Claim
You also make your auto collision claim stronger by being examined by a physician within 48 hours of the crash. You cut off common arguments that the insurance company could make to deny your claim or try to pay you less than you deserve if you don’t delay getting medical treatment. Here are the disputes that insurance adjusters love to raise when accident victims do not receive medical treatment right away:
- Different cause. It is harder to prove the causal connection between your injuries and the car accident if you wait to get medical care. One argument the insurance company could make is that the injury was caused by another incident that occurred before or after your collision.
- Prior injury. If the insurance adjuster discovers that you were treated for the same injury caused in the accident in the past, they may claim that your injuries were caused by a prior medical condition or accident.
- Not serious. If you wait to seek medical treatment, the insurance company could dispute the seriousness of your injuries. They may claim that you would have gone to the doctor sooner if you were really hurt as badly as you claim.
- Faking your injury. The insurance adjuster could also argue that you are not hurt at all and are making up your injury and pain in an effort to get money from the insurance company.
Were you hurt in a car accident in Roswell? You need the help of an experienced car accident lawyer to collect the evidence you need to win your case and to fight with the insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery in your settlement. To learn about your options and to get answers to your questions, start a live chat to schedule your free consultation today.
How much is my claim worth?
If you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it is important to understand how much your claim is worth when deciding whether to file a claim for compensation with their insurance company. This can help you know what to expect and how to spot the warning signs that the insurance company is unfairly trying to pay you less money than you deserve. Here’s what you need to know to get a sense of what you should receive in your settlement.
What Compensation Can You Recover in a Car Collision Claim?
The first consideration in determining the value of your claim is to determine the amount of compensation you can recover under New Mexico law. In our state, victims of an auto collision can recover their past and future damages. Types of compensation you are entitled to include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Property damages
- Out-of-pocket expenses, such as towing and car rental fees
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages if a loved one was killed in the collision
While it may be relatively straightforward to determine your past medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages, it can be much harder to figure out your future expenses if you suffered a long-term injury or one that makes it impossible for you to return to work. In addition, it can be hard to put a monetary value on the compensation you should receive for your pain and suffering and emotional distress. You need the help of an experienced car accident lawyer who has a track record of success in settling and litigating these cases to accurately value what damages you should recover.
Other Factors That May Affect the Value of Your Claim
Many other factors can impact how much your claim is worth. Four important factors that a lawyer will consider are:
- Seriousness of your injuries. If you suffered a long-term injury that takes you months or longer to recover from or that is permanent, the value of your claim will be higher. This is because you will have additional medical expenses, will need more time off work, and will suffer more pain and suffering than if you suffered an injury that healed within a few months.
- Disputes with the insurance company. If there are legitimate disputes with the insurance company about their driver’s liability or the seriousness of your injuries, this could weaken your case and the value of your claim. The key issue is whether the arguments are valid or excuses made up by the insurance adjuster to pay you a lower settlement.
- Your fault. If you were partially at fault for causing your auto collision, this would reduce the value of your claim. New Mexico follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine, which provides that the amount of compensation you are entitled to would be reduced by your percentage of fault in causing the crash.
- Insurance policy limits. No matter how seriously you were injured, the insurance company is only responsible for paying you up to their driver’s insurance policy limits. The amount of insurance coverage the motorist has will have a practical impact on the value of your claim.
Were you injured in a car accident in Roswell? Our dedicated and knowledgeable legal team will thoroughly investigate the cause of your collision and the seriousness of your injuries so that we can accurately value your claim. We will also aggressively fight with the insurance company to ensure that you receive all the money you deserve in your settlement. Start a live chat to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.
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 injury 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.