We rely heavily on material items in our daily lives. But what happens when a product turns out to be defective and leads to an accident, injury, or fatality? The consequences can be devastating.
What to Do Following an Accident
You may drive an entire lifetime and never get in an accident with another vehicle, but the odds suggest otherwise. A typical driver will be involved in an accident every 17.9 years, which could mean you’ll be in three or four accidents in your driving lifetime. Not only do accidents generally result in physical damage to your vehicle, but you and your passengers can also be injured.
Drivers in Missouri must carry liability insurance, which should cover your property damage and injuries if the other driver is at fault, but the insurance requirements are fairly low. Drivers must carry what is known as 25-50-25 liability coverage. The first 25 equates to $25,000 in coverage for injuries to a single person; the 50 for $50,000 in coverage for all parties injured; and the last 25 for $25,000 in property damage.
Those caps can be breached fairly quickly. A survey by the Insurance Information Institute (III) found that the average injury settlement is $20,235 and the average property settlement is $4,711. Another survey, conducted by Martindale-Nolo, pegs the average injury settlement at $23,900. What the surveys don’t reveal is the role that personal injury attorneys played in securing a proper and just settlement.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in or around Kansas City, Missouri, contact us immediately at SJP Sifers Jensen Palmer. We are auto accident and personal injury attorneys with a combined 98 years of experience in helping those who have suffered from auto accidents because of others’ negligence or recklessness. We proudly serve clients not only in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area but also in Springfield.
What to Do If You’re Involved in an Accident
If you do get involved in an accident, your first concern should be the health and well-being of you and your passengers. If anyone is injured, you need to seek immediate medical help by calling 911. However, due to an adrenaline rush, not all injuries surface immediately. Some injuries can take hours or days to show up.
Even if you feel no immediate physical after-effects from the crash, you should seek medical attention when you can to be on the safe side. Doing so will also play a vital role in filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance plan.
Missouri is an at-fault insurance state, as mentioned earlier, and every driver is expected to maintain liability insurance to cover injuries and property damage they cause to others. Therefore, you need to get the other driver’s contact and insurance information. You should also call 911 and get the police to come and investigate. The report they prepare can also play a huge role in any claim you make on the other driver’s insurance.
Depending on where the accident happened, there also may be witnesses. If there are, try to get their statement and contact information. This too can aid in any claim or lawsuit you file.
Other drivers may also pull over to try to help. If they saw what happened, get their statement and contact information as well. However, passengers in your vehicle, though they certainly saw and experienced what happened, will be considered biased witnesses, so their testimony will be challenged by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Also, using your smartphone, take images or videos of the scene, including any injuries you or your passengers suffered, if visible, and any damage to your vehicle. Scan the road for any hazards, and film any traffic signals or warning signs that were violated by the other driver.
What to Do in the First Few Days Following Your Accident
Of course, you’re going to need to make a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. If you have collision coverage on your own vehicle, you’ll want to notify your insurer as well, who can then file a subrogation claim with the at-fault party’s insurer.
Insurance policies generally contain a clause requiring prompt reporting of a claim, so you’ll want to make your claim quickly. Waiting weeks or months might raise suspicion on the part of the insurer.
Once you make the claim, the insurer will assign a claims adjuster to grill you about what happened. Part of this person’s responsibility is to pin part or all of the blame on you so they can lowball or even deny your claim. For this reason, it is important to seek out an experienced auto accident/personal injury attorney to negotiate with the insurer and answer all their questions.
Also, don’t sign anything without running it by your attorney. Remember, once you settle with the insurer, that’s it. You can’t go back for more if your injuries get worse. The insurer also may ask you to sign a medical information release so they can check if you had any pre-existing conditions that could be responsible for your injuries.
Understanding Your Options
Of course, the first route to compensation for your injuries and auto damage is through the at-fault driver’s insurance. However, the insurance company may, or likely will, try to lowball any settlement. In this case, a personal injury lawsuit may be in order.
Missouri actually has a fairly lengthy statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit: five years from the date of your injury. You certainly won’t want to wait that long, however, as it gets harder and harder to prove things as the years go by.
Take Your Next Steps Forward
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in or around Kansas City, follow the steps outlined above, and then bring the evidence to us at SJP Sifers Jensen Palmer.
Our attorneys will handle your insurance claim, and if necessary, launch a personal injury lawsuit. We will fight for the just compensation due you while you recover physically and emotionally.
At SJP Sifers Jensen Palmer, we understand how traumatic it can be when you're involved in a car accident. It's even more distressing when the other party is under the influence of alcohol.
You may drive an entire lifetime and never get in an accident with another vehicle, but the odds suggest otherwise. A typical driver will be involved in an accident every 17.9 years, which could mean you’ll be in three or four accidents in your driving lifetime.