I Have Never Been In This Situation, What Can I Expect?
Today I want to talk to you about the 10,000 foot view of a motor vehicle collision and what to expect from start to finish of one of these cases. This is a general overview and each case will be different depending on its specific facts.
A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words
So you’re in a motor vehicle collision and someone else is at fault. What next? At the scene you want to cooperate with the police (call them if they are not there). You’ll want to document the scene noting whatever you think is important: damage to your vehicle; damage to the other vehicle; anything about the scene that you think contributed to the collision. If you’re physically unable to do it see if it’s possible to have a family member or friend help you. The police may take some photos and make some notes, but you don’t want to just leave it up to them. With cell phones it’s very easy to snap some pictures or even a video of damages because as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Now is Not the Time to Be Gary Cooper
If you think you even might require medical attention you should go to the hospital and be checked out because sometimes injuries from motor vehicle collision, soft tissue injuries, head injuries, other types of injuries, may not be readily apparent in the moments after a collision. So if you feel 100 percent, there’s no reason to go to the hospital, but if you feel like you may be a little woozy, something may hurt, or you just feel off you should go and be checked out. If you do go to the hospital make sure to follow the doctor’s orders when you are checked out. If you are told to see your primary care physician, go to PT, go to OT, whatever it is, follow that advice diligently.
Your Insurance Company
You’ll want to make a report to your own insurance company if there’s uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. That’s going to be very important. We’ve talked about that in separate blogs. Assuming you retain counsel, that’s something that we, or another lawyer will do for you.
Show Me the Money!
You’ll want to follow up if you are injured on any treatment until you reach what they call a medical endpoint. That is until you get to a point where you’re either 100 percent or as close to 100 percent as you and your doctors think that you’re going to get. At that point it would be time for you and your lawyer to value your case, figure out lost wages, figure out all the consequential damages and make a demand on the insurance company of the at-fault driver. That will open up negotiations with the insurance adjuster. The case could be – and most cases are – settled or negotiations.
I’ll See You in Court!
But if it’s not settled within three years of the date of the collision, the statute limitations in New Hampshire, you’re going to want to file suit. Your lawyer should have that date in red on his, or her calendar as that is a very important date. If a lawsuit is filed the court will set deadlines issues. In discovery process, medical records, expert opinions, witness statements, photographs, and all the other potential evidence in the trial will be exchanged. The lawyers could file motions arguing what should and shouldn’t be allowed by the judge to come in at trial. At trial evidence will be presented and arguments will be made to the jury who will eventually return a verdict and award damages.
Hopefully this is helpful just to you a 10,000 foot map of how a motor vehicle collision case will play out when you are injured by someone else’s negligence.