Car Accident FAQ

Q. What do I do if I'm in a car accident?
A. If you are involved in an automobile accident, you should never leave the scene; otherwise, you could face criminal charges. Your first step is to call an ambulance if someone has been injured. Make sure your vehicle is not creating a hazard to other motorists by moving it from traffic, when possible. Call the police and file an accident report. Never admit liability--this is a legal matter that will be investigated later. Be sure to collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses, or others involved in the accident. It is also a good idea to take photographs to document skid marks, vehicle damage, road obstructions, and injuries. For more detailed information, check out What to Do After an Accident or our Accident Scene Checklist.

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Q. When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, is it ok for me to talk to them?
A. Yes, you should. Whether you are the victim or the cause of an automobile accident, limit yourself to discussing the facts. You should avoid taking blame for the accident or making accusations.

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Q. How much does it cost to speak with you about my situation?
A. We never charge for an initial consultation and for a review of the facts surrounding your case. Personal injury cases normally involve a contingency fee agreement, although retainer fees at an hourly rate are also available if you prefer. The client agrees to pay a specified percent of the recovery (which sometimes varies depending on whether a lawsuit settles early or the matter goes to trial or is appealed). If there is no recovery there is no fee, and the attorney normally absorbs any expenses which have been advanced on the case. Feel free to call Kobs & Philley, PLLC for a free initial consultation and case review.

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Q. How soon after the accident should I get a lawyer?
Quickly. To be safe, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible, especially if the injuries are severe or a death has resulted. All too often valuable evidence disappears, witnesses move, memories grow dim and the practical ability to prove your case may diminish. If you are still being treated by a physician, an attorney can also provide you with guidance concerning your medical care and help you deal with unpaid bills and getting needed treatment. Legal advice can also be useful if you have questions about the settlement value of a claim, your insurance policy's terms, or suspect bad faith on the part of your insurance company. Contact Kobs & Philley, PLLC to discuss your personal injury case for free.

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Q. Should I notify my insurance company of the accident?
A. Yes. You have a duty to cooperate with your own insurance company. Most insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report every auto accident so that they can gather basic information. In fact, failure to provide information to your insurance company in a timely manner can result in loss of coverage for the accident. However, you should avoid making statements about who was at fault in the accident and only relate the facts of the accident as they occurred. You should consult a personal injury attorney before providing any other information to the insurance company.

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Q. Should I notify the other driver's insurance company of the accident?
A. Unless you want to jeopardize your case, it is far better to hire a personal injury attorney to handle any communication. Most people have no concept of how the other side can twist something you have said so that you are robbed of much of the compensation you deserve, if not all of it.

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Q. Should I give any insurance company a recorded statement?
A. The short answer is NO. While you may be obligated to cooperate with your own insurance company and give your insurance company a statement, this does NOT require you to give a recorded statement to the other driver's insurance company. In fact, you should not give a recorded statement until you have consulted with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies' claims adjusters are professional negotiators with extensive experience and are well trained to ask questions in a manner designed to hurt your claim. Insurance adjusters are trained to save money for the insurance companies, and if they can do that by making liability questionable or establishing that your medical claims are unfounded or unrelated, they may avoid having to pay for the full extent of your injuries.

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Q. What can I do if the driver doesn't have insurance?
A. Statistics show that nearly 1 out of every 3 drivers on Mississippi roads is uninsured. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you may mistakenly think that you have no recourse when it comes to collecting damages for auto repair and medical care. In actuality, you can seek compensation from your own insurance company, as part of your underinsured and uninsured motorist (UM or UIM) coverage policy. However, if you don't have UM insurance, your only recourse is to sue the driver. Most people who don't carry car insurance don't have much in the way of assets, though, so it's unlikely you'll make a recovery if you must resort to suing an uninsured driver. If the driver doesn't have insurance but you carry Uninsured Motorist's insurance, you can make a claim against your own UM policy.

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Q. Do I need uninsured and underinsured (UIM/UM) coverage?
A. Yes. Uninsured Motorist Coverage and Underinsured Motorist Coverage covers you in the event that the person who causes an collision does not have any insurance or does not have enough insurance to pay your injuries and damages. It is also important to get as much Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage as possible, as this will help pay for your injuries and medical expenses if you are involved in a wreck with someone who does not have any insurance, or not enough liability coverage! UIM/UM coverage is very cheap, and it is an excellent way to ensure yourself and your resident family member's health! A good rule of thumb is to have your UIM/UM limits equal to your bodily injury liability limits. For more information on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, please visit our Uninsured Motorist page.

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Q. What do I do if the other driver's insurance company contacts me?
A. You are in no way obligated to speak to them. Politely decline to speak with the other driver's insurance company, give them your lawyer's name and contact information, and advise them to speak directly to your attorney from now on. It's important not to provide any information whatsoever to the at fault driver's insurance company, as they may try to lead you into saying something makes liability unclear or otherwise makes your case difficult to pursue.

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Q. What do I do if the other driver and insurance company denies liability?
A. Liability is the easiest thing for insurance companies to dispute to avoid paying on a claim altogether. It is, therefore, not uncommon for the insurance company to dispute liability even if their driver is liable. It then becomes your job to prove liability and that the other driver was at fault in causing the collision. If the police report is clear and comprehensive, it alone may be enough to prove liability. However, if liability isn't clear from the police report, you will likely find that the insurance company will not offer you the full value for your case until you get an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you in handling your claim.

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Q. What should I do if I think the accident was at least partly my fault?
A. Despite your honorable intentions, be aware that you are probably not in the best position to figure out how or why the accident happened. There are many possible causes for an accident. Accepting blame and apologizing to another driver can be used against you later. You should contact an attorney.

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Q. Why do I need a police report (aka Uniform Crash Report)?
A. Your attorney needs a copy of the police report (also called a Uniform Crash Report or accident report) for a number of reasons: to get information about the other driver involved in the accident; to get information about the driver's insurance company; and to see what the police have recorded about how the accident occurred. If the police report is inaccurate, your attorney will contact the investigating officer because it's important to get it corrected as quickly as possible in order to avoid clouding the facts and casting any questions on liability on you.

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Q. I have been asked to release my medical records to the other driver's insurance adjuster. Should I do this?
A. Absolutely not. Always consult a qualified personal injury attorney before releasing any information, or your case could be seriously impaired.

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Q. How do I go about getting my car repaired?
A. Depending on the type of automobile insurance you carry, you may simply be able to contact your own insurance company about repairing your car. If you have the right coverage, your insurance company will pay for the repairs to your vehicle. Your insurance company may then seeks repayment from the at-fault driver's insurance company. They will have what is called a subrogation lien for the property damage.

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Q. What do I do with the appraisal/estimate?
A. When you take your car to an auto-body shop for repairs, the shop will prepare an appraisal, estimating the amount of damage to your car and how much it will cost to repair. An appraisal is an important document for many reasons. For one thing, the damage to the car as reported in the appraisal can either back up, or disagree, with your story of how the accident occurred. Also, insurance companies weigh the cost of repairing your car, as related in the appraisal, to the value of your car, to determine whether it's worthwhile to repair your car. Give a copy of your appraisal to your personal injury lawyer. You may also need to provide a copy to the insurance company that is paying for the repairs to your car.

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Q. Who is responsible for providing me with a rental car while my vehicle is being repaired?
A. The at-fault driver's insurance company should provide you with a rental car to drive while the repairs to your car are being made. Needless to say, this can be a big hassle if insurance company is disputing liability, or if they require time to authorize a rental. If you have rental car coverage on your own insurance company, you should contact your insurance company about getting them to provide you with a rental car, and let them directly seek reimbursement from the liable insurance provider.

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Q. I feel fine; should I still see a doctor after my automobile accident?
A. Definitely. Many times injuries sustained during an automobile accident are not recognized or noticeable until days or weeks after the accident. This means that even though you may feel fine now, you may be suffering from internal injuries. You should always seek medical attention after being involved in an auto accident. When you do see the doctor, make sure to mention any complaint you may have, no matter how minor. Don't play medical expert and evaluate the importance of a symptom. If you did not cause the auto accident, the law allows you to seek and receive compensation for any medical bills you have incurred after the collision.

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Q. Who pays for my medical bills if I've been injured in an accident?
A. Ideally, the liable insurance company would pay for your medical bills without any hassle. However, oftentimes insurance companies dispute liability, and it can be a very difficult to get an insurance provider to pay your bills up front. If that is the case, it may be a wise decision to get your health insurance to pay your medical bills and seek reimbursement from the auto insurance company as part of the settlement. For more information on how to get your medical bills paid, see our general Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions section.

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Q. The insurance company is arguing about my injuries. What do I do?
A. Insurance companies exist to make money, and they don't stay in business because they pay every victim what the victim believes their claim to be worth. It is too often that they refuse to compensate you reasonably for your injuries. It's their goal to pay you the least amount possible for your injuries. When you hire an experienced accident injury attorney to prosecute your Mississippi car accident case, you will work with your attorney to establish the extent of your injuries.

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Q. What happens if a doctor says I'll never fully recover from my car accident?
A. Unfortunately, oftentimes people are permanently injured in ways that they can never fully recover. You may live with constant pain or other physical or mental limitations from your vehicle collision for the rest of your life. It is your personal injury attorney's job is to make sure that the other driver's insurance company understands that your quality if life has diminished/affected and to get you the compensation you deserve for your permanent limitations and injuries. If the injuries you sustained in the accident prevent you from engaging in normal daily activities or activities that you enjoy, causes you long-term mental anguish or emotional distress, or even prevents you from returning to work or forces you to seek new employment, you may be eligible for a larger recovery. It is important that you continue medical treatment until your doctor tells you that you are at MMI (maximum medical improvement), which basically means that you're as well as you're going to get insofar as medical treatment is concerned, and any existing pain or lingering medical issues are going to be with you for the rest of your life. At that point, your personal injury attorney will pursue your personal injury case with the understanding that you're fully treated, and take any remaining limitations or medical issues into consideration when valuing your case and issuing a demand to the at-fault driver's insurance company.

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Q. Can I get reimbursed for the time that I've had to take time off work because of my car wreck injuries?
A. Yes! You shouldn't have to use your sick time, vacation time and/or benefits to pay for someone else's mistake. If the other driver is at fault, you should be able to get lost wages reimbursed for any time you missed due to doctor's appointments or medical restrictions. You may also be entitled to future lost wages and loss of wage-earning capacity if you are unable to return to your job. Document these instances very carefully. Get documentation from your employer in the form of time sheet reports, pay stubs or other company documentation indicating that you have lost wages as a result of the wreck.

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Q. If I'm a passenger, can I make a claim against the driver of the vehicle in which I was riding and/or against the other driver?
A. Yes. Even if you're a passenger in the liable party's car, you can still file a claim for a personal injury against the driver of the automobile in which you were a passenger; if the accident was not the driver of the automobile in which you were a passenger's fault, you can still file a claim against the driver of the other automobile. The liable party's insurance coverage will be liable for your losses, regardless of whether you were a passenger in their insured's car or in the other driver's vehicle. That being said, though, if you are involved in an accident where there are multiple people making personal injury claims, your medical expense recovery may be limited based on the number of people claiming injuries and the at-fault driver's policy limits.

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Q. What do I do if the driver leaves the scene?
A. This is the typical hit-and-run accident. If the driver leaves the scene, you can still make a personal injury claim. Do your very best to get the license plate number, make and model of the vehicle who hit you, and a description of the driver. If you can get that information, the authorities may be able to determine who negligently slammed into you. If you're unable to get that information and cannot identify the driver involved in your accident, you may still be able to make a claim if you carry Uninsured Motorists' (UM/UIM) insurance. It is important to get as much Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) insurance coverage as possible, as this will help pay for your injuries and medical expenses if you are involved in a wreck with someone who cannot be identified! UIM/UM coverage is very cheap, and it is an excellent way to ensure yourself and your resident family member's health! A good rule of thumb is to have your UIM/UM limits equal to your bodily injury liability limits. For more information on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, please visit our Uninsured Motorist page.

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Q. What are the minimum insurance requirements in Mississippi?
A. In Mississippi, the minimum insurance coverage is 25/50/25. This means that drivers are required to carry $25,000 in individual bodily injury liability insurance coverage, with a total of $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage insurance coverage. However, many people choose to carry more insurance than this in the event that they're involved in a serious accident. It is always important to get as much personal automobile insurance coverage as you can, as this avoids the likelihood that an injured person will come after your personal assets! Moreover, it is also important to get as much Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM/UM) insurance coverage as possible, as this will help pay for your injuries and medical expenses if you are involved in a wreck with someone who does not have any insurance, or not enough liability coverage! UIM/UM coverage is very cheap, and it is an excellent way to ensure yourself and your resident family member's health! A good rule of thumb is to have your UIM/UM limits equal to your bodily injury liability limits. Even though the law requires everyone operating a vehicle in Mississippi to carry liability insurance, some people do not carry it. In fact, approximately 30% of the people driving in Mississippi are uninsured. If you are involved in an accident with one of those uninsured people, you may no recourse unless you carry an Uninsured Motorist policy. For more information on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, please visit our Uninsured Motorist page.

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Q. What if the other driver's negligence caused someone's death?
A. A case which results in someone's death is commonly referred to as "Wrongful Deathcase. The claim can still be pursued on the deceased person's behalf and the family members known as wrongful death beneficiaries, but normally a special administrator must be appointed (this is frequently a family member). The law of the state where the case is filed generally specifies the relationship that would entitle a person to make a claim for damages (in Mississippi, these beneficiaries would consist of a spouse and children, or parents and siblings). The wrongful death beneficiaries may be entitled to compensation for any damages, including funeral costs, loss of love and companionship, and the economic loss they suffered as a result of the death of their relative (this can be significant if the claimant is the spouse or minor child of a wage-earner who dies). The wrongful death beneficiaries may also be entitled to claim damages for the mental anguish and emotional distress suffered as a result of the death of a loved one. For a more detailed discussion, please visit the Wrongful Death section.

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Q. How soon must I file a personal injury lawsuit before I forever lose the right to do so?
A. In Mississippi, you generally have 3 years in which to file your claim. However, there are many exceptions and this is not a hard and fast rule. Cases involving intentional misconduct would have to be filed within a 1 year time limit. You should consult a lawyer immediately to discuss your case and to determine what steps you need to take first and by when you have to file a lawsuit to avoid the statute of limitations.

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Q. What's my case worth?
A. The value of any personal injury case involves many factors and usually just depends on the facts of each case, as no two cases are exactly the same. Some of these factors include the amount of medical expense, wage loss, damages that may occur in the future, scarring and disfigurement, permanent physical impairment, evidence as to the degree of fault, where the incident took place, existence of mad factors (actions by the defendant that are so outrageous that it makes the jury angry) or the likelihood of punitive damages, the amount of insurance coverage, and where the case is filed. Case values are established by the parties when they agree to is settlement or generally by a panel of jurors, but sometimes by a judge or an arbitrator. For a more detailed discussion, see our general What’s My Case Worth? section.

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If you have any questions about your legal rights regarding your injuries or your loved one's injuries, please contact Kobs & Philley, PLLC for a FREE CONSULTATION.

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Phone Numbers - 601.856.7800 & 1.877.856.0330