Accident Do’s And Don’ts

accidentAfter an accident, steps need to be taken quickly to properly preserve evidence. Things such as witness statements, photos, measurements, and other information, must be obtained and preserved in a way that will allow this evidence to be used in court in the future.

Sometimes it is necessary that an accident reconstruction expert be hired to actually go to the scene to gather forensic evidence to use to later determine what happened, and who was most likely at fault. Insurance companies usually have their own people doing this for them to protect evidence that is favorable to them, particularly if the accident is very serious (one that caused a particularly serious injury or death).

Even though you are an innocent victim, under our Iowa law, you still have the “burden of proof” to prove your case. Do not assume that the insurance company representative or the police will take the proper photos or preserve or protect evidence that is important in your claim or case.

Also, keep in mind that insurance company claims representatives and adjusters are hired, trained and paid to take these steps for the best interest of their employer.

After an accident, most people think to themselves “Well, no problem, because I am fully covered with insurance”.

The practical difficulty is that even if you are fully covered with all the different insurances, such as auto insurance (liability, collision, medical payments coverage), major medical health insurance, short and long term disability insurance, Medicare, supplemental Medicare, Medicaid, etc., as a practical matter it is seldom, if ever, that these companies will actually coordinate with each other to provide the best and most favorable result for their insured.

It is important that contractual deadlines are attended to, and that all conditions of one policy are complied with in order not to inadvertently void the coverage.

One area that is typically full of legal technicalities and difficulties, is the area of underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) and uninsured motorist coverage (UM).

Another problem that can crop up after an accident is the expectations of the hospital, the doctor, or other health care providers.

Because health care providers realize that their bills are typically compromised or discounted once they are sent to a health insurance company, and certainly if they are sent to Medicare or Medicaid, they have trained their staff to determine if there was an automobile accident, some other type of accident, or if it is a “liability” type of case.

If a person who is responsible for causing an accident had unlimited insurance coverage or assets to full cover all of the damages that they caused to you, this typically would not be much of a problem.

But as a practical matter, in this day and age of a less-than-wonderful economy, it is not uncommon for some owners and drivers of automobiles to not have enough insurance, or worse yet, no insurance at all!

So, sometimes, it can be beneficial in asking a health insurance company to pay the medical and hospital bills first, and then providing a reimbursement to them later.

This can not be determined for sure, until all of the benefits of all of the applicable insurance policies are reviewed and compared.

There are specific Iowa laws that address the process of “subrogation”. This is the process of reimbursement to the insurance company who originally paid the claim having a right under your policy to be paid back later if and when you get paid by the person who was responsible for causing the accident or their insurance company. This is a complex area of the law. Care needs to be taken to handle subrogation in a way that allows an injured person to lawfully keep the most money possible after the claim or suit is completed.

Because every case is different, it is impossible here on this website to properly give any kind of general advice that someone could use and rely upon. It’s too bad that laws that are supposed to protect victims of the carelessness of others are so complicated, but that is the reality.

Perhaps the only exception to this is one general rule following an accident: it is almost impossible to take too many pictures. It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words…… maybe ten thousand….. maybe more!

Sometimes the attorney (who happens to also have extra training and experience as a trial lawyer), will decide that due to the facts and circumstances involved in the accident, that certain specific photos need to be taken. This is where competent, professional, and experienced legal counsel can step in and make these types of judgments that are unique to each particular fact situation in each case.

For a consultation with Vance Jorgensen, concerning an accident in which you were involved, and which you believe was not your fault and you were seriously injured, please feel free to call (641) 424-1999.

Remember, there is no attorney fee unless and until your case would be accepted, and unless and until there is a recovery.