General Accident Frequently Asked Questions

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1. Can I handle my own accident case?

A. You can certainly handle your own accident claim. One of the great things about our country is the accessibility of the legal system to non-lawyers; however, one of the more beneficial aspects of our justice system is that you can have a trained, knowledgeable advocate navigate the legal waters on your behalf. While you have the option to file a claim without an attorney, you may find yourself at a severe disadvantage in the courtroom. Many are dismayed to realize, often too late, that simply showing you were injured is not enough to successfully pursue a personal injury claim. Litigation has many nuances to consider, including depositions, expert witnesses, as well as court policy and procedure, to name a few. It’s important to keep in mind the attorney representing your opponent will be very well versed in not only the circumstances of the case, but the applicable law. If the opposing party has legal representation, shouldn’t you?

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2. How do I chose an attorney for my accident case?

A. If you have been injured due to the recklessness or carelessness of someone else, having an attorney who will listen to your concerns and answer any questions about the process of pursuing a legal claim can be beneficial to you and your family. Hiring an attorney is an important decision, and one you should only make once you have done your research. An ideal attorney is one who has experience working successfully with personal injury cases both in and outside of the courtroom. Additionally, it’s critical that you and your attorney have an open line of communication. Your attorney is your legal representative, trusted to operate on your behalf; as such, you should choose an attorney who you feel comfortable representing your interests. Here at CCR we offer free consultations for all potential personal injury claims. Call today to speak with one of experienced personal injury attorneys.

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3. Do I need to report an accident to my insurance company if it was not my fault?

A. Yes, when life is interrupted by negligence you must be ready to take action immediately to preserve your legal rights. To successfully obtain all of the money you are entitled to receive under the law you must be prepared to begin documenting every aspect of the items the insurance companies will take measure of when assigning a value to a claim. The initial effort to document the claim occurs when accident victims notify the responsible insurance company. This is an important step in the process because if due care is not taken important components of the claim may be overlooked or disregarded. We can help with this phase of the claim, but it requires contact immediately.

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4. Do I need to go get my accident report or will an attorney get it for me?

A. You are encouraged to maintain a copy of all relevant paperwork for your own records; however, if you are having difficulty obtaining the report or have questions about the process, we would be happy to help you. Call our office today for more information.

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5. What should I do if I am injured in an accident?

A. Get qualified legal help right away, but not first. The first and most important thing to do is getting medical help and follow all medical advice. We cannot heal your body, but we can help your peace of mind. We know that personal injury is very personal. We know that it affects everyone differently because not everyone is living the exact same life and not everyone has the same exact daily physical needs. No matter how your accident has forced unwelcome change into your life, we can offer a roadmap and a reliable plan on how to proceed. Because of our experience and knowledge of the law, we know how to cut through bureaucratic red tape and sort through the aftermath of the collision one step at a time. Our firm includes litigation attorneys who have worked on behalf of large insurance companies and small families. We have experience and know how to evaluate a claim and fight for our clients. If you are wondering what steps to take next, give us a call.

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6. What can a lawyer do for me after an accident?

A. An attorney can help you evaluate your potential claim and decide what legal options and strategies are best suited to meet your goals. Lawyers become your representatives in court as well as to the insurance companies. Choosing a legal representative who is knowledgeable and experienced can be very beneficial. To learn more about how we can help with your specific legal issue, contact our firm today.

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7. How soon after the accident should I hire a PI lawyer?

A. Obviously, the most immediate action you should take is to address any physical injuries that you may have suffered during the accident; however, after you seek medical care, you should consider reaching out to the firm that you feel is best suited to handle your claim. There are many lawyers and law firms in Arkansas, but as with any service provider, not all attorney’s specialize in the same areas, have the same level of experience, or the same ability to communicate effectively both with clients and in the courtroom.

The sooner you can get a qualified attorney to evaluate you claim, the better. At CCR, we have experts in the field of accident reconstruction on call. If we are timely retained after an accident, our experts can often make detailed observations and judgments by examining the scene of the wreck.

We encourage prospective clients to come in for a free consultation and get to know our firm better. We would love an opportunity to discuss your potential claim and address any questions or concerns you may have about the process of filing a lawsuit after you or a loved one have been hurt in a wreck. Call us to set up your appointment.

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8. It was a close friend or family member that caused the accident. I don’t want to sue them but I have to pay my bills. What are my options after an accident?

A. We can help you attempt to negotiate with the insurance company without filing suit. Unfortunately, this tactic is usually ineffective. It is important to keep in mind; however, in most cases the primary party involved is not your friend or loved one, but their insurance company. Traditionally it is the insurance company that will be required to pay for the damage caused by the insured party.

We certainly understand the hesitation regarding filing suit against a family member or close friend. In situations like this, it helps to remember the checks and balances of our society. Here in Arkansas, we are all required to have insurance on our vehicles; we all pay insurance premiums regularly, with the expectation that our insurance company holds up their end of the deal, so to speak. We have insurance to protect our lives and our property from the “unexpected,” and accidents, by definition, are never expected events. Some pay insurance premiums their entire adult lives without ever being involved in an accident or filing an insurance claim, but those who do have the misfortune of being hurt in a serious accident rightfully expect insurance to then cover the damages that premiums had been paid toward.

If you have questions about all the specific options available to you, call CCR for your free consultation.

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9. Can I file a claim against a city or state for an accident?

A. Yes, in certain situations you may file a claim against the state or city, but there are special rules in play. This is a complex legal issue that should be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you suspect a city, county or state employee was responsible for the accident that injured you or a loved one, call CCR today.

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10. Do I have to turn over my medical records for my accident case?

A. Yes, any medical records related to your claim will be considered evidence, or proof, of your injury. You will need these documents to demonstrate to the opposing party, and possibly to the judge or jury down the line, the extent to which your life, or the life of a loved one, was affected by the accident. Medical records are just one of the many pieces of evidence used to evaluate the impact of a potential claim.

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11. Can I just turn over the medical records I believe are relevant?

A. While only relevant records will be critical to your claim, determining what is actually relevant and what is not can be confusing and often frustrating for accident victims and their loved ones. It is a common assumption that the only relevant medical records are those from time of your treatment directly following the accident. It is certainly true that those records are a crucial part of your claim; however, there are some circumstances that call for additional medical documentation.

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12. What happens if I can’t return to work after my accident?

A. We understand this concern and are here to help you address it. Inability to go back to work after an accident is one of the primary problems our clients face. The urgency that often comes with being unemployed is a feeling we are all familiar with. This sense of urgency is only heightened if you have family members depending on your income.  Not surprisingly, facing unemployment, either on a long-term or on a short-term basis, provides a great deal of motivation for many clients to contact us quickly after their accident. Many want to know what options are available to them and their families. If you are in similar situation, give us a call to set up your free consultation!

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13. What should I say to the insurance adjuster after my accident?

A. Be ready to discuss all reliable memories and impressions of the collision and its effects. The main focus will be questions addressing “liability” and “damage” assessments so the claim can be evaluated and any additional work on the claim can be identified. These are the two most critical assessments made when attempting to value and resolve your case. In plain terms, this means the adjuster will talk about who was at fault in the collision and the facts supporting this conclusion. The adjuster will also want to get answers about the extent of any injuries. Additionally, any contemporaneous witness statements or on-scene investigative results will be important topics of discussion.

This conversation may be used to trap the unwary because it is usually between a trained investigator paid by the insurance company and someone who is hurt or not in the best frame of mind to answer questions and provide details about the accident or resulting injuries. Severely injured victims may not be able to communicate very well for an extended period of time, while others may be taking heavy pain medication, and these conditions prevent injured victims from fully participating in the investigative process whatever random times the adjuster may call. If we are involved early in the case we may opt to forego the initial statement altogether when the law provides that option. We know that our effort and ability to document and present a case is likely much more informed and complete than what can be gathered during a brief phone call.

Although every state mandates fair claims practices, the insurance adjuster answers to his or her bosses at the insurance company and not the injured accident victim. Because insurance companies are some of the oldest and largest for-profit companies in existence, it is easy to understand they have a bottom line to account for and other close call considerations are going to give way at times to profit motives. Other problems that can be created early on during this brief call arise because it is not always apparent to people exactly what the scope and extent of their injuries are during the few hours or days that pass before this initial phone call, which the insurance company always records for their own purposes. Some problems with this system are found in the fact that most injured people do not have any medical training, and even if they did, usually lack all of the available information and tools available to their medical care providers to provide complete diagnosis and care plans. Added to these limitations is the fact that some types of accident related traumas do not show up immediately. There are lots of reasons for this, but consider that as a practical matter a person may not register deep knee pain when attempting to recover in a hospital and not getting up and around on their own. The same may be true for all sorts of injuries that are caused by the trauma.

When the law provides this option we tell our clients to instruct the insurance company to call us, their attorneys. This way, we can gather and compile all of the important medical information and develop it without inviting unwarranted skepticism that arises when an injured person fails to describe their injuries and limitations very well during a brief phone call. It is important to note, however, that if a person’s own insurance company calls and asks questions, the insured has a duty to cooperate and likely needs to answer the questions as posed.

The insurance adjuster is human. Like all human beings he or she may have a tendency to think that the first words used to describe the trauma and its consequences are all they need to hear about the matter. However, we know from handling this cases over many years that there is always more to the story and we know how to tell it. Otherwise, the busy claims adjuster’s notes taken in an out-of-state office during one of the many phone calls made that day may prove to be an insurmountable barrier to obtaining the full value available to injured accident victims.

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14. Why does the insurance company need a recorded statement from me and do I need a lawyer before giving one?

A. The insurance company has a duty to investigate claims and any identify any support for them. This duty includes speaking to everyone involved as well as witnesses. Insurance companies record telephone statements because they deal with cases every day in various stages of litigation, and they are aware memories fade and impressions change over time.

Insurance companies may use recorded statements in an attempt to trap those involved in accidents. If the recorded statement is taken too early, the injured person or family member may not have a full grasp of the injuries, including whether they are permanent or will require future medical and surgical procedures. Also, what we know from litigating many such cases over the years is that the insurance adjusters are usually clear-headed and well prepared for the call, have access to the police report, witness statements and the like, and they usually choose the time of the call when all of this information is in front of them. In contrast, the injured person is usually less prepared, not medically trained to understand their injuries, and perhaps fatigued or confused by the use of strong prescription medication to combat pain and discomfort caused by the accident. All of these factors combined turn what may seem like a simple phone call into a real turning point for a case before it really gets off the ground.

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15. What if I am partly to blame for the accident? (Comparative fault)

A. Liability, or fault, is one of the first determinations made that can affect the value of your personal injury claim. Comparative fault is the term the law uses to “compare” the negligence of the drivers involved in the accident. If you and another driver were both partially to blame, there is likely an issue of comparative fault.In some cases, innocently injured accident victims are faced with an untruthful driver who enlists the aid of his/her insurance company to attempt to shift the blame from himself/herself to the innocently injured driver. This problem can be compounded when there are no witnesses and a seeming lack of reliable evidence reflected in the police report.

If you or someone you know is seeking the assistance of a personal injury attorney and comparative fault is an issue, please feel free to call and we will be pleased to provide a free consultation to go over this important issue. Comparative fault may have a significant bearing on the amount of monetary compensation you receive for the harms and losses you or a loved one suffered in the accident. Our skilled attorneys are deeply familiar and experienced in identifying and handling legitimate comparative fault issues. We know how to confront those that are not. If you or someone you know is dealing with a comparative fault issue, our law firm is here to help.

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16. The insurance company already offered me a settlement check; do I need to talk to an attorney?

A. The insurance company will be very happy to settle your personal injury claims without paying you full value. The insurance company has no duty to keep you from being turned over to collections companies for failing to pay medical debt. We offer confidence that when you receive a settlement check from the insurance company, it actually has the right numbers on it to account to you for all of the harms and losses caused by the collision. Can you be sure the insurance company, with its teams of investigators and attorneys, is looking out for any of your interests and paying you full value? Can you be sure that the amounts claimed by medical providers for treatment have been fully accounted for in the settlement? Can you be sure that you no longer require any further medical care and treatment and that you will have the money to pay for it from the proceeds of the settlement? We offer our clients answers to these and other questions arising in their personal injury claim and we work very hard to address these questions before the settlement amount is determined.

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17. The insurance company says they have no responsibility to pay for my medical treatment because the accident was labeled “no fault.” Do I have any legal options?

A. We have recovered money damages for many of our clients who were the victim of an erroneous or incomplete police report or other improper fault assignments. The officer’s opinion as to who is at fault in the collision is given some weight, but is not binding to anyone involved in the accident. Here in Arkansas we have numerous law enforcement agencies ranging from: Department of Transportation, Arkansas State Police, Municipal or “City” Police, and County Sheriffs and their deputies. The scope of an investigation into an accident can vary considerably among these agencies. We know firsthand that officers usually do their best with the limited time and resources they have to document accidents. Two of our partners are former sworn police officers and investigated accidents daily. We have literally been there. When it comes to litigating these cases on behalf of our clients this experience, along with years of experience as attorneys handling these cases, allows us to scrutinize accident reports for errors and challenge them at every stage of the proceedings. In close cases, we also call on experts in accident reconstruction to provide consultation or testify in our cases. So, if you are an innocent accident victim that is being forced to overcome faulty assessments as to who is actually “at-fault” in the collision, call us, we know how to help.

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18. What should I write down after an accident?

A. Any documentation that you have will be helpful to your potential claim. Any photographs or video footage you have will be beneficial for your insurance company as well. You need to keep a copy of the police report and any other documents you receive related to the accident.

Documents to save for your personal records include, for example, any medical bills, medical records, accident reports, car repair estimates, correspondence from an insurance company, and photographs or video of the damage.

Many people choose to write down their impressions and memories of the incident while they are recent. As with any situation, details can seem less clear after a great deal of time passes; the sooner you record your thoughts, the better.

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19. How do I know if the insurance company is being fair with me?

A. You probably have no way of knowing unless you have prior experience as an insurance adjuster or attorney. Every insurance company hires and pays the salaries of scores of investigators. Those investigators have responsibilities to report to the insurance company first; they answer to the people who pay them first. This may affect your claim in that insurance investigators, also called “adjusters” are trained to gather information in ways allowing them to discount and devalue claims by looking for anything that might prop up an argument challenging fault or proof of damages. Generally, these investigators are very busy and have many claims to handle. It is only natural for them to pay attention to well-documented claims compiled and presented by attorneys who know what they must consider when deciding whether and how much to pay for a particular claim. Your life-altering accident is only “a claim” to the insurance company; one of tens or hundreds of such “claims.” You lost a loved one or the use of your body and the insurance company has a computer and file folders keeping track of your injuries and damages, and they only pay for what gets included in those files. The insurance company has teams of investigators and attorneys to document their file, shouldn’t you? Shouldn’t you have someone who knows how to make sure your life and your claim are being given a fair shot?

To know if you are being made a reasonable offer, it is best to get a second opinion from someone with extensive experience in representing injured people whether the injuries came from: automobile collisions, truck accidents, airplane crashes, or boating incidents. We have an extensive understanding of tactics used by large insurance companies from working for them and against them. When turning our focus and experience to help those wronged by insurance companies, we developed significant experience representing injured accident victims. We don’t take every case, but for clients we choose to represent, we put our experience to work to ensure our clients obtain the level of compensation they are owed and for which they deserve.

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20. How can I pay my accident bills until my lawsuit is resolved?

A. This complex issue involves details specific to your own health and auto insurance policies. For example, a majority of automobile insurance policies provide Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for medical payment “MedPay” benefits. Most people have this coverage and seek benefit of payments from their own automobile insurance policy to pay healthcare providers in an amount up to $5,000 (the actual amount of coverage may vary). MedPay commonly covers medical expenses for the insured, their passengers, other drivers on the policy, and members of the insured’s household. What many people do not realize is that MedPay insurance coverage provides payments to its own insured(s) even if the other driver is at fault.

Other sources of insurance payments might be available to pay for the medical bills as they accrue to include: Private Health Insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and supplemental health insurance policies. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers have adopted billing practices making it much harder for accident victims to get their bills paid as they accrue and avoid collection. The results of these practices leave accident victims uncertain they will obtain the benefit of health insurance payments. This takes further discussion to illustrate.

In the past, injured victims could easily submit health insurance claims on his or her health insurance policy as they accrued. Indeed, the medical care provider would do this automatically. This is no longer true as many Arkansas healthcare providers choose to forego submitting accident related insurance claims to known health insurance providers (including Medicare and Medicaid) until they can determine whether they may recover more money from the insurer of the liable third-party who caused the collision. Since this may take up to a year or so to figure out, many innocent accident victims find that even though they have private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, the medical bills are not getting paid and in fact turn are often turned over for collection. Yes, even though an accident victim may have health insurance coverage, the health care provider may not seek payment and instead turn over the accident victim to bill collectors. This is because the healthcare provider(s) never turned in the claim for payment from your health insurance at all. Healthcare providers have negotiated contractual obligations to accept lower payments for service charges paid by private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid. Therefore, if the healthcare provider quickly submits billing to a private health insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid (which exist solely to provide benefits for their insured after all), then the healthcare provider may lose the chance to get paid more from the insurer of the liable third party. Additionally, in most instances, the right to leverage and seek payment directly from the innocent accident victim grants stronger rights than if the private health insurer, Medicare, or Medicaid sought reimbursement from the liable third party’s insurance company. This leaves many accident victims in the middle and adds to the anxiety and stress caused by the collision because many find that, in addition to being forced out of work and needing to seek medical treatment, the harm is compounded by harassing collection notices, letters, or phone calls and devalued credit scores.

If you have specific questions about your medical bills getting paid give us a call and we can assess your specific situation.

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21. Can I get any bills paid without filing a lawsuit?

There is a surprisingly simple way to get payment for all your damages without filing suit. By keeping records and documentation about the accident up to date and in order, you can make a copy available to the insurance company, if they are agreeable to a reasonable settlement.

In many cases, unfortunately, the insurance company is less enthusiastic about fulfilling their obligations. We have seen instances of insurance companies prolonging legal negotiations in the hopes that the injured party will eventually grow tired of waiting and settle for a lesser amount than they may be awarded in court. Insurance companies are for-profit corporations with bottom-lines, and they usually conduct themselves in that manner.

If you have been in an accident and feel you are getting short-changed by the responsible parties’ insurance, contact a qualified personal injury attorney today. Here at CCR we are able to answer your insurance related questions, and offer free consultations.

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22. What documents or records should I be getting together for my case?

Any relevant information you have regarding the accident should be gathered. This includes, but is not limited to, photographs, videos, written notes you made regarding the accident (i.e. your present sense impression, any witness names), a copy of the police report, your insurance information, any reports reflecting the estimated damage done to your vehicle (i.e. cost of repair), any medical bills that stemmed from the accident. If you have any questions about what information may be relevant to your potential claim, give us a call and CCR will be happy to help you make that determination.

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