- Why you should have a lawyer.
- What to do after an accident.
- What not to do.
- Insurance facts.
Why you should have a lawyer.
Motor vehicle accidents change the lives of the victims and their families. Insurance companies have trained adjusters whose job is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line. Research has shown over and over that people represented by lawyers get bigger settlements from insurance companies than those who don’t. Why stand alone against a trained professional? At Buxbaum Daue we use our experience in handling Montana accident cases to ensure that you receive full compensation for your injuries.
Medical bills and loss of income are major concerns of most accident victims. Often, insurance companies are required to immediately pay medical expenses and wage loss in motor vehicle accident cases. We aggressively pursue all avenues of insurance to secure these payments. When you retain Buxbaum Daue, we take over the investigation of your case (including the cost) so you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries. We level the playing field so that your rights get equal treatment to those of the insurance company and you receive the settlement you deserve.
What to Do After an Auto Accident
- Call the Police
Many people who cause an accident will ask you not call the police because they want to avoid a ticket and an increase in the cost of their insurance. Do not agree. Call the police so officers trained in accident investigation can investigate and report what happened. The police will often determine conclusively the liability of the person who caused the accident by issuing a ticket for a traffic violation. The police will also obtain necessary insurance information from the involved drivers, take witness statements and check for drug or alcohol use.
- Get Information
- Full names, addresses and telephone numbers of all drivers involved;
- Full names, addresses and telephone numbers of all passengers;
- Full names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses;
- Names of the insurance companies of all drivers involved and the policy numbers;
- Names of the police who investigate the accident.
- Take Note
- Of the location of the accident;
- The time of day, weather conditions and road conditions;
- The direction of travel of the vehicles involved;
- Whether any drivers appear to be intoxicated;
- Whether any of the vehicles had to be towed;
- Whether anyone else was injured;
- Whether anyone accepted responsibility for the accident or made a comment accepting fault.
- Seek medical attention
Never hesitate to go to the emergency room or your doctor after an accident. Many times you will not feel the effects of an accident for a few days. Don’t delay treatment! Doing so will not only delay your recovery period, it will allow the insurance company to argue there you were not hurt in the accident.
What Not to Do
Never give an oral or written statement to the other side’s insurance company without the advice of an attorney. Don’t go it alone. Insurance adjusters are skilled negotiators trained by insurance company lawyers to get you to make statements that will hurt your claim.
Damage to Your Car
Here are some facts you should know about damage to your car in an accident.
- The insurance company has the option to repair or replace your car, depending on which costs less.
- If the insurance company repairs your car, you have the right to choose the repair shop and the right to demand that only original manufacturer parts be used in the repair. Since your car was probably not new at the time of the accident, the mechanic may use refurbished or reconditioned parts.
- If it is less expensive to replace your vehicle than to repair it, you will be entitled to its “fair market value” immediately before the accident. Often, insurance companies keep their own databases that show unfairly low values for destroyed vehicles. You do not have to accept an unfair “lowball” value set by the insurance company. Good sources to check to confirm that you are getting a fair deal are the Kelly Blue Book, used car dealers in your area, and newspaper used car ads.
- If another driver is at fault, you are entitled to a rental car for the time needed to repair your vehicle or while you are negotiating its fair market value with the insurance company. While insurance companies often pay the rental bill directly, sometimes you must pay the rental car bill first and get reimbursed from the insurance company later.
Many types of insurance may apply to a claim arising from a motor vehicle accident:
- Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is required by law in most states, including Montana. Liability insurance covers the driver of a vehicle for damage caused by that driver’s negligence. Liability insurance also pays the expenses of defending the driver against your claim.
- Medical Payments Coverage (No-Fault)
An optional coverage offered by most insurance companies in Montana is Medical Payments Coverage. This is some of the best, inexpensive coverage available. Contact your insurance agent and find out if you have Medical Payments coverage and, if not, add it to the coverage on all of your vehicles. Medical Payments Coverage is health coverage that is available to pay medical expenses of the driver and passengers. Fault does not matter. If you have Medical Payments Coverage and are injured in an accident, regardless of who is at fault, your insurance company will be required to pay your reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to the limit of your Medical Payments Coverage. This coverage is only available through your own insurance. You are not entitled to Medical Payments Coverage from another driver’s insurance company.
- Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) Motorist Coverage
These are two additional types of optional coverage you can buy from your insurance company. Like Medical Payments Coverage, you should have these coverages. Call your agent and find out if you have them and, if not, add them to all of your vehicles immediately. In Montana, your insurance company must offer you UM coverage.UM and UIM coverages protect you against people driving illegally without liability insurance and people who do not have enough liability insurance to compensate you for your injuries and damages. When you have UM and UIM coverage, your insurance company pays for your injuries up to the limit of the UM or UIM insurance you purchased after the insurance of the driver at fault is used up.Even though your own insurance company pays you for UM and UIM coverage, it still looks out for its bottom line first. The adjuster for your own insurance company is trained to make the best deal for the company. Have a trained professional get the best deal for you.
- Collision Coverage
This is another optional coverage you can buy that pays for the repair or replacement of your own vehicle after an accident. If you have collision coverage, you are entitled to be paid for repair or replacement of your vehicle even if the accident was your fault. If you have an expensive vehicle, you should have collision coverage on it. Because collision coverage is expensive, many people with older and less valuable vehicles do not carry collision coverage on those vehicles.