After you have been in an auto accident or any other firm of accident in Arizona, there is often confusion about what should happen next. The personal injury lawyers at Hirsch & Lyon can help you at this time, when you have questions about how to proceed and what to do to ensure your needs are met.
If you have been a victim of an accident, some of the questions you may have include:
“What if pain starts after I’ve already told the officer there was no pain?”
When you are in an accident, your body’s adrenaline surges to help you get through the stress. This hormonal rush can prevent you from feeling pain or noticing injuries while still at the accident scene. Once the hormones diminish, you may then start feeling pain or realize that you suffered an injury during the accident.
If you told the officer that you did not need an ambulance and were not injured, the officer will include that in his or her report. The responding police will indicate your injuries were at level one, which means no injuries were present. While this may concern you if you do experience pain or other problems later, you can still get help through an insurance claim with the help of an experienced law firm like Hirsch & Lyon.
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“If I can barely move the day after the accident, can I still file a claim for my injuries?”
Whether your pain does not appear for hours, a day, or several days after your accident, you can still file an insurance claim to get the help you need or cover expenses related to your injury. It is normal for the body to have a delayed reaction to injury symptoms. Sometimes this reaction does not occur for hours or even multiple days.
This means that it is okay that you told the officer at the scene, “I am fine.” This will not be a hindrance for your claim. Your earlier statement from the scene can be dismissed if you experience pain later.
In fact, emergency departments often warn accident victims that injuries may worsen over several days. They often provide patients with ways to identify worsening injuries.
Even people who feel fine after an accident can have life-threatening injuries. Brain injuries and blood clots can result in hospital stays, even though no injury was felt at the scene of the accident. Sometimes indicators of these life-threatening injuries are minor or not realized until they become serious. Swelling in the brain and spinal cord can take time, just like swelling anywhere else the body is injured. As swelling increases, so does the physical threat of long-term harm or fatality.
“What if I do not notice neck or back problems until a period of weeks after the accident?”
This is also very common. You may have even had pain in other parts of your body at the scene of the accident. Your brain releases signals of the most intense pain first. You may have had pain in your arms or legs when the accident happened, or on parts where abrasions, scrapes or bruises occurred.
The body’s need to address these immediate issues first sometimes causes awareness of serious problems like back or neck injuries to hold off until a later time. Stiffness and aching for weeks after your accident may then lead to increasing pain or problems with a particular body part.
“What if my vehicle was not damaged very much but I have injuries?”
Your car or other vehicle may not look heavily damaged. But you still can experience major injuries. Your body can be injured by something inside your car, part of its interior like the steering wheel, or even just the sudden stopping motion that jars your body from front to back or side to side. This jarring, known as whiplash, can cause even fatal injuries without damage to the car.
A well-known example of fatality due to whiplash is the death of NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt. His car seemed only slightly damaged in his race accident. But his head and neck jarred so severely that he did not survive. Accidents like this can often be worse than major damage inflicting accidents. These injuries are so severe because the energy of impact affects the passengers instead of the exterior of the vehicle.
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“What effect will not wearing a seat belt have on my claim outcome?”
Not wearing a seat belt can cause you to be issued a citation at the scene of your accident, even if the accident was not your fault. Insurance companies often present the argument that injuries are partially the fault of people who were not wearing a seat belt. This can be a problem in insurance claims, but not to the extent that it deters Hirsch & Lyon from representing accident victims. Seat belts cannot prevent all injuries in accidents and insurance claims can still be successful with the right legal help.
“What if I was injured even though my seat belt was securely fastened around me?”
Seat belts, although excellent safety devices preventing many injuries or death, are not foolproof. These devices can keep people from hitting the windshield during the accident. Seat belts also prevent injuries from hitting the steering wheel or other passengers. An important function of seat belts is that of keeping people from being ejected from their vehicle during an accident.
However, seat belts are firmly fixed around only part of your body. This can make odd rotation of the body during an accident result in serious injuries. This is more rare. But seat belts may result in injuries, themselves.
“I did not bump my head during my accident, but I am having severe headaches.”
Traumatic brain injuries do not result only from your head hitting an object, like a steering wheel, windshield or other surface. These brain injuries can also happen as the result of whiplash. This is because during an accident your head may move in one direction while your brain moves in another, causing an internal collision in your skull.
This collision causes the brain’s outer cellular structures to sheer, resulting in torn and displaced tissues. Such injuries may not appear at the scene of the accident and become more apparent through headaches or other later problems.
“What if I am injured from an accident but I was not the driver?”
If you were not the driver of the vehicle involved in the car crash, someone else is liable for your injuries. You will be going after the insurance company of the responsible driver, not the driver as an individual. As a passenger, you were under that insurance company’s protection. This means that you should not feel badly if your friend or loved one was driving the accident vehicle. You will be seeking compensation from their insurance company, not that person you care about.
“What if the other driver did not have insurance?”
Insurance policies with more than minimum coverage usually include uninsured motorist protection. This means that your own insurance company will pay for damages the other driver without insurance caused. Underinsured coverage also helps make up for remaining amounts when another driver does not have enough insurance to pay for your damages.
“What if I am afraid my insurance premiums will increase because of the accident?”
If you are not the cause of the accident, your insurance premiums will not increase. You will not be penalized for using uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Fear of insurance rate increases should not deter you from pursuing compensation under your rights. Hirsch & Lyon can help you pursue a claim with your best interests in mind.
After being injured in an accident, it is very important that you seek legal representation as soon as possible to ensure you are treated properly by the insurance companies and others involved in the claims process. Fill out our online contact form or call Hirsch & Lyon immediately, day or night, at (602) 535-1900.