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Expert Q&As: Auto Accident Injuries  

We asked leading personal accident attorneys to answer common questions that people ask after being injured in an auto accident. Read their advice.

No one is ever prepared for a car accident. They are stressful events that raise a lot of questions that you might not have thought about before. You might be wondering "what rights do I  have if I am injured in a car accident?" How am I supposed to pay the bills when I'm too injured to work? How am I going to pay for all of these medical expenses?

Unfortunately, not taking the right steps after a car crash could very well result in you being on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical expenses. If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, they should pay. However, it is essential to contact a personal injury attorney to handle your case.

To help you get answers to your personal injury questions, we decided to talk to several leading personal injury attorneys. Dr. Louis Patino, a former chiropractor and current attorney with Patino Law Firm in San Antonio, Texas, Attorney Rodney Okano in Las Vegas and Attorney Joey Diaz from Mississippi answer common questions that people have after an auto accident injury. Here are the questions and their advice.

Are All Injuries Legitimate And Valid For A Claim?

Although you might have been injured in an auto accident, not every injury qualifies for a legal claim. If your injuries can be attributed to genetics, age or some other factor, then you might not be able to sue. For instance, many people get degenerative disk disease as they age. More than 35 percent of adults show some evidence of this condition by the time they are 35 years old. Sometimes degenerative disk disease does not cause symptoms. So, you may not even know that you have it — until you're in an accident and the condition shows up on the MRI.

Symptoms Cannot Be Due To A Pre-existing Condition

If the doctors believe that your pain could be due to a pre-existing condition — like degenerative disk disease rather than the auto accident — then you might not be entitled to a claim. However, in many cases, the pain is caused by the crash. The only way to determine what is causing the symptoms is a medical evaluation. Therefore, it is essential always to get medical treatment after an accident.

There Must Be Negligence Involved

Another thing that you must prove in a personal injury lawsuit is negligence. You must show that the other person who hit you was negligent. This means that their actions resulted in the accident that led to your injuries. To prove that the other driver was negligent, you'll need evidence. Some good examples of evidence in personal injury lawsuits include:

  • A police report that documents the cause of the accident.
  • Photos from the accident scene.
  • Medical records related to your injury. These records might include hospital visit summaries and documents from physical therapists, psychologists or any other medical professional who treated you.
  • Eyewitness statements that talk about the details of the accident (for instance, a statement from another driver who saw the person who hit you texting while driving).
  • Documentation from your work of time you took off to recover from your injuries.

Do I Have To Call My Insurance Company If The Accident Was Not My Fault?

It is a common myth that you do not need to call your insurance company if the accident was not your fault. However, this myth is not true at all. You should call your insurance company after a crash. Here are the reasons why:

  • Your policy may contain coverages that will pay for injuries.
  • The other driver may later dispute who is at fault.

How Long Do I Have To Contact My Insurance Company After An Accident?

It is a good idea to call your insurance company as soon as possible. Some policies may have terminology that state how long you have to call. Make sure you pay attention to the timelines noted by your insurance policy.

Must I Talk With The Other Driver’s Insurance Company?

You do not have to talk to the other driver's insurance company after an accident. It is an excellent idea to be very careful with the information that you do provide to the other person's insurance company — especially if you are injured in a crash. Instead, contact your own insurance company.

I was in an accident while driving a company car. Can I still get compensation for my injuries?

Do you frequently drive a company car for work? Many people believe that if they are injured while driving a company car, they are not entitled to sue the other driver. However, even if you are receiving workers' compensation, you are allowed to sue the other driver if they are at fault.

Are All States The Same When It Comes To Getting Compensation for Car Crash Injuries?

“No, each state is different when it comes to personal injury lawsuits,” says Dr. Patino. Every state sets a limit on the amount of time that a person has to file a lawsuit. For instance, in Texas, a person has two years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit. It is best to talk with a personal injury attorney to determine what the rules are in your state.

To get answers to your specific questions about injuries that you have sustained from an auto accident, contact an attorney for a free consultation.

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