Driving from one spot to another in Oklahoma City can be so easy. The metropolis is encircled by convenient highways that help to bring you wherever you want to go. The grid of the city is laid out so well that just about every destination is accessible by a quick trip in your new hybrid or SUV. However, a ride can take a wrong turn quickly if you find yourself in an accident with another car.
Injuries sustained in an auto accident may leave you with ongoing challenges for the rest of your life, and in the aftermath of a crash or collision, there are dozens of questions that need urgent answers. The attorneys of Hasbrook & Hasbrook are here to help provide you with those answers.
If you or one of your loved ones was injured in a car accident in Oklahoma City or the surrounding area, you can depend on Hasbrook & Hasbrook for aggressive legal representation. Our knowledgeable legal team has more than 75 years of combined experience representing the victims of car accidents in the Oklahoma City area, including head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, intersection accidents, lane change accidents, and other accident scenarios. We encourage you to call our law offices at (405) 698-3040 to set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation. In the meantime, the information below will help you understand the next steps after you’ve been injured in an automotive accident.
What To Do if You Have Been Involved in a Car Accident in Oklahoma City
Once you tend to your health, you will most likely want to figure out how to cover the damages incurred to your precious car. And you will certainly want to discover why the accident happened in the first place. Was the other driver drinking? Were they speeding? Texting, even? Depending on how and why the accident occurred, the other driver may be liable for compensating your injuries. But before you begin the process of making a claim or filing a lawsuit, there are 12 important steps to follow in the days and weeks after an accident occurs.
- Remain calm. We know how difficult this can be in an emotionally charged and perhaps physically painful situation like a car accident, but it can keep an already bad situation from getting worse.
- Turn off your car’s ignition and activate your emergency flashers.
- If you, a passenger or the other driver has been injured, call an ambulance immediately.
- Call the police, even if you do not think you are injured, so that an accident report will be on file.
- Get the contact information of the person who caused the accident. This should include the license plate number and insurance information. Write this information down.
- Get the contact information for anyone present during the accident. Impartial witnesses often make the difference in a case’s outcome when, for example, two drivers blame each other.
- Request that the police officer at the accident scene write up an accident report.
- Take photos of your car, the car that belongs to the person who caused the accident, and the area surrounding the accident scene.
- Document as much as you can about the accident, including how the accident happened, damage to your car, and any injuries sustained.
- Seek any necessary medical attention immediately. Remember to explain to your doctor how the injuries occurred.
- Bear in mind that any insurance adjuster who calls you is calling on behalf of both the insurance company and the person who caused the car wreck.
- Contact us as soon as possible if you have been injured or think you might have a case against the person responsible for the accident. We have all the skill and experience necessary to negotiate with the other driver and insurance company – and we are prepared to aggressively litigate on your behalf if needed.
We understand that a car accident can be a traumatizing experience, and that you may want to rest and recover in the comfort of your own home. But as you rehabilitate, dial the number above to speak to our Oklahoma City car accident attorneys immediately. The opposing insurance provider will attempt to negotiate their way out of responsibility, or will try to delay payment for as long as possible in order to save themselves from any potential losses. Don’t wait any longer: call us today, and let us fight to protect your future.
Liability Issues the Insurance Company Examines After a Collision
Liability refers to who is at fault for an accident. However, liability for an accident is not always clear. If you’ve been in a car wreck, you should contact the police immediately to come to the scene. A police officer will be able to investigate and issue an accident report showing who caused the wreck.
An insurance company almost always wants a copy of this report. Having a report to examine makes it much easier to determine liability than hearing from their insured, whose account of how the wreck occurred often changes. In addition to obtaining a copy of the police report, the insurance company will also want to consider the following issues after a crash or collision occurs.
Are there any witnesses to the wreck? Sometimes this can make the difference in determining, or showing the insurance company, that their driver was responsible. A common defense is that there was a sudden emergency which prevented the driver from stopping in time.
Crash severity, or how much property damage occurs, is not correlated with the injuries sustained. Nonetheless, insurance companies will want to look at how much property damage there is. Therefore, you should note what happened to your body at impact. For instance:
- How were you positioned or braced in the car?
- Did you hit the steering wheel, door, or headrest?
- How far did your car move at impact? Car bumpers are designed to take an impact and will often crush inward, then pop back out, without substantial damage to the car.
Types and Amount of Treatment
If you’ve been hurt, it’s important to go to your doctor immediately. Most people will wait to see if their sore back, neck or shoulder will get better on its own, but having a doctor evaluate you early on in the process is important. Insurance companies like to use the “delay in treatment” defense if there are any gaps in a claimant’s treatment.
In addition to looking at the types of treatment claimants receive, the insurance company will evaluate the volume of your treatment as well. For example, why is your doctor prescribing the same physical therapy for six months if you’re not substantially improving?
Your Previous Medical History
Insurance companies will look at your prior medical history when evaluating a claim. If you’ve had previous treatment or injuries to the same body part that was injured in the wreck, then they’ll claim that it was a “pre-existing” condition and that they’re not responsible — even to the dismay of the doctors that treat and see your injuries. Surprisingly, these same insurance companies will claim that your injury was “predisposed” to injury and thus was also a pre-existing condition.
If your case goes to trial, the insurance company will have a Defense Medical Examination of you. This is oftentimes called an “Independent Medical Exam” or IME. Unfortunately, this independent exam is nothing of the sort. On the contrary, it is bought and paid for by the insurance companies — and it is performed by doctors who have built their practices around testifying for insurance companies.
The insurance doctors usually have several “standard” excuses they fall back on:
- The patient wasn’t hurt in the accident; he or she must have gotten injured somewhere else. They usually say the doctors who treated the patient did a good job, but they don’t think that the injury was from the wreck.
- While the patient was injured, his or her injuries don’t justify this much treatment. You’ll often hear, regardless of how reasonable the treatment was, that it should have been shorter.
- The patient’s injuries are gone. If the other excuses fail, the insurance company doctor will then usually say that the patient has fully healed from the wreck, regardless of what the treating doctors and medical doctors say.
How Our Attorneys Can Help if You Were Injured in a Car Crash in OK
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 41,000 people in the United States die in auto accidents each year. Car accidents are a daily occurrence in Oklahoma, and sometimes, a lawyer does not need to be involved. If there is only property damage, or if the injuries are very minor, you may not need an attorney. But oftentimes, when issues arise about who is at fault and the damages to which the injured is entitled, it is a good idea to have an experienced attorney on your side.
After all, the person who caused the accident will almost certainly be represented by an insurance company — as well as its army of lawyers, investigators, adjusters, and agents. Remember, insurance companies fight personal injury auto accident claims on a daily basis. They have powerful financial incentives to delay settlement for as long as possible, and to pay as little as they can possibly get away with paying.
At Hasbrook & Hasbrook, we have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies. Some companies are easier to deal with than others. One company may be aggressive and unreasonable, while another company may actually offer a fair settlement. We know the documentation and evidence that must be preserved in order to develop a successful claim, and can offer invaluable advice about preserving evidence and preparing your case. In addition, we know the techniques that the insurance companies use to influence victims to settle quickly and for less compensation than they deserve.
In short, we know your legal rights and can quickly determine what constitutes a fair settlement in your situation. The earlier you contact us, the more options we will have to help you. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case. Some key aspects of our legal services are highlighted below.
Initial Consultation with an Attorney
Here, you’ll meet with an attorney to evaluate your case. You should also evaluate the attorney. The attorney should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case with you at the initial consultation. They should also have prior experience handling these types of cases. Make sure they have handled cases similar to yours.
If you and the attorney agree to sign a contract, then they’re representing you on your case. At this point, you should not be worrying about how to deal with the insurance company that keeps calling you. Your attorney will “take it from here.” Your priority is getting the proper medical treatment you need and taking care of your health. lo
Assembling a Demand Packet
Once you are through receiving medical treatment, we get all of your medical records and bills together. At this point, we also compile information from your employer showing how much work you missed and how much you would have been paid. This is also the time to interview any witnesses.
Our demand packets provide a summary of the case, and the harms and losses the client has incurred: medical treatment, medical bills, and lost income.
Attempt at Settlement
We initially send the demand packet with a settlement demand. At this point, the insurance company should have the case evaluated and they will either make a counteroffer or deny the claim. Note that insurance companies often deny claims because it delays the case: paying later saves them money. Many “denied” cases settle after an attorney is involved.
Our Lawyers Help You File a Lawsuit
If the insurance company doesn’t want to settle the claim, then we’ll need to file a lawsuit. Note that even though the insurance company will be on the other side of the case, the case will be against the driver who was at fault for the wreck, not the insurance company involved in the claim.
The insurance company, however, will defend their case with their attorneys. Most insurance companies nowadays have “in-house” counsel, which simply means that they are salaried employees of the insurance company. Their letterhead will have a law firm name, but in reality, they are actually employees of the insurance company.
After the lawsuit is filed, the insurance company — or, more specifically, their attorneys — will typically issue written questions for you to answer. These are called “interrogatories.”
After that, they’ll likely want to have a deposition with you in person to ask you questions. This is also when they evaluate you: how you come across on the witness stand, and so forth. During this time, we will be conducting discovery of their driver and anything related to the case.
Most cases settle, so there’s a chance your case will settle even after the lawsuit is filed. In fact, most courts will order both parties to attempt to settle the case. A significant number of judges require mediation, or a settlement conference, before the case ever goes to trial.
If your case can’t resolve through a settlement, then your only recourse is to go to trial. Most car accident trials last two days to about a week, after all of the depositions and discovery have been completed.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident in the Oklahoma City area, call our law offices (405) 698-3040 for a free and confidential legal consultation. Our experienced team of car accident attorneys will fight hard in pursuit of maximum compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and suffering.