Protect yourself: What you need to know when you’ve been in a collision
Attorneys at Cauthorn Nohr & Owen have decades of experience winning settlements for clients in personal injury cases. There’s a reason they’re Atlanta’s Caring Lawyers. Know how to protect yourself from the negligence of others.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, metro Atlanta has some of the most dangerous highways in America. Because collisions happen, it’s important to protect yourself and your family by knowing exactly what to do when you’re involved.
Everything you say at the scene of a collision will be reported. Before you leave the scene, you’re likely to talk to three people –– the other driver, the police, and the emergency medical technicians (EMT). Both the police and the EMT’s will make written reports, so assume that everything you say at the scene will be included.
Provide timely notice to your insurance company. As soon as possible, you must give your insurance company notice of any incident that may result in a claim. Failure to give timely notice may result in loss of coverage. Make immediate report as indicated on your insurance card and then it is best to confirm the verbal report in writing.
Fully understand your pain and suffering. Americans are can-do people. Many of us are reluctant to admit our aches and pains. But it’s critically important that you know how the collision has affected your day-to-day activities. What did you do before that you can’t do now? How much are you paying someone else to do the things you could do on your own before the collision? Are you suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder? Were your relationships affected?
Understand you may need help from an attorney. At the scene of the collision and at the hospital, everyone is focused on your best intertest. When you leave the hospital, the adversarial part of the process begins when the various parties involved start to engage in self-protection. This may include your own insurance company.
About 13 percent of motorists are underinsured or uninsured. That means your own insurance company must cover the difference.
“When it comes to uninsured and underinsured drivers, you could be in the deep end of the pool. Be careful of what you sign and what you say,” says Judge T.E. Cauthorn, founder of Cauthorn Nohr & Owen. “You need sufficient coverage. People often try to save pennies on coverage for uninsured and underinsured. It can be an expensive bargain.”
Choose the right attorney. Look at the lawyer’s record and experience with personal injury cases. Make sure you’re not being charged a fee. In personal injury cases there should be a contingency fee that will be paid when money is recovered for you. You should have a written agreement with your attorney, nothing verbal or over the phone. Generally, in cases of doubtful liability the fee will be 40 to 45 percent. In cases where the liability is clear, the contingency fee should be between 33 and 40 percent. Your attorney should cover advance expenses for certified reports, depositions, experts, and other costs related to your case. You will reimburse the attorney from your portion of the money recovered for you, but everything can be negotiated.