Rhode Island Car Accident FAQs
Answers to your Car Accident FAQs. Car accidents happen every day in Rhode Island. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your crash. Carl P. DeLuca, a Rhode Island Car Accident Lawyer, has helped Rhode Island car accident victims get the maximum settlement for car accident and personal injury claims for more than three decades.
From serious head-on collisions on I-95, to rear-end collisions on Post Road, and even minor accidents in the newly developed Apponaug rotary, the severity of car accidents varies wildly. Unfortunately, even the most attentive and cautious drivers aren’t safe from negligent or distracted drivers.
What To Do After Your Car Accident
After a car accident, it can be challenging to know what to do. Unfortunately, time is not on your side. If you think you might pursue a car accident claim in the future, you must establish a proper timeline and preserve evidence. Doing so allows you to prove that your injuries are a direct result of your car accident.
Our goal is to answer some of your most common questions about car accidents on this page. If you have questions regarding your car accident, reach out to Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law. There’s a reason Rhode Island clients call Attorney DeLuca.
FAQ: What should I do immediately after my car accident?
What you do immediately following your car accident depends on several factors, most notably the severity of your injuries. If you are injured severely, you’ll obviously need to focus on your health. Get medical attention promptly. Save all bills, receipts, doctor’s notes, and other medical documentation. This evidence will help your future case. Once you’re able to contact a lawyer, do so. The sooner you obtain legal representation, the better your chances are of obtaining a settlement.
If you’re not injured or sustained only minor injuries, there are things you can do at the scene to help your case in the long run, including:
- Accident Report. If you or the other driver sustained any injury in your accident—even a minor injury or property damage—you must contact the police and they must prepare a report. It’s no longer necessary to prepare a report on your own.
- Say as little as possible to the other driver and do not admit fault. While this seems obvious, it’s not always as easy as it sounds during a stressful situation. Determining who is at fault in a car accident is not easy. I’ve had clients who thought they were at fault, only to realize later that the accident happened because the other driver made an illegal turn. Admitting fault or saying you’re sorry for an accident that isn’t your fault can have repercussions down the line.
- Do not move the vehicles. The only time you should move your vehicle is if it’s unsafe not to move it. The accident scene, including any tire marks or other evidence, is crucial to determining fault. If you or anyone else is in harm’s way after an accident or keeping the vehicles were they were is unsafe, move your vehicle if you can safely do so. Otherwise, leave your car where it is.
- Take pictures. If you’re able to take photos of the scene safely, do so. If you left your mobile phone at home or can’t take photos for some reason, ask a bystander or witness to take pictures of the scene for you.
- Collect witness information. If there are bystanders or witnesses to your accident, get their contact information. Witnesses can help your case in the future.
- Seek medical attention. Injuries from car accidents come in all shapes and sizes. Even if you didn’t sustain a serious injury from your car accident, get medical attention. Contrary to what some might think, receiving medical attention after your car accident does not make you an ambulance chaser. It’s an insurance policy, ensuring you have proper medical documentation if you need it in the future.
FAQ: Should I get medical attention after my car accident?
In my experience, it’s in your best interest to get medical attention after your car accident. While this is an obvious next step if your injury warrants medical attention, such as a broken bone, it can be less apparent with soft tissue injuries.
Hairline fractures, sprains, pulls, spinal injuries, and other soft tissue wounds can be challenging to assess. Moreover, you have no idea how a soft tissue injury will affect you in the future. Failing to get medical treatment after your accident makes it very difficult to connect your injuries to your accident. Laying the proper groundwork for your car accident claim is vital to your case.
Do not undermine your claim before you understand the extent of your loses by refusing to see a doctor. I’ve seen this happen to clients and they end up stuck with medical bills and debt. I do not want this to happen to you.
FAQ: Do I need a car accident lawyer?
Whether or not you need a car accident lawyer is up to you. Since you’re asking though, I’ll give you the same advice I give to my family and friends. In my 35 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen someone regret speaking to a lawyer about their car accident.
Many lawyers offer free consultations. I’ve done this for years because it’s an excellent way for both of us to understand if your car accident case is worth pursuing. After the consultation, you’ll know whether you should hire a lawyer or not.
Most car accident lawyers, myself included, take car accident cases on a contingency basis. That is, if I don’t settle your case, there is no fee for you.
The most common contingency fee for car accidents that move into litigation is one-third of your settlement fee. Depending on the type of the case, the complexity of the litigation, and the likelihood of success, the cost can range from 25% and 40%. Again, if you do not win a settlement, there is no legal fee.
While it doesn’t cost you anything to speak to an attorney, it could cost you substantially if you don’t. When you settle your car accident case, you forfeit your right to sue again. You only have one chance to receive the proper compensation for your car accident injury. Do not miss your window of opportunity to get compensation for your injury.
The best way to determine if a car accident lawyer is beneficial to your case is to contact the law office Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law.
FAQ: Who Pays the Medical Bills in a Car Accident?
There are a few ways to get your medical bills paid after a car accident. Rhode Island is an at-fault state for car accidents. As such, the general financial liability is on the person who caused the accident. Therefore, if you’re the victim of a car accident, the other party is responsible for your medical bills in addition to any further damages.
Knowing you’re not on the hook financially for your medical bills is a relief. However, you typically do not get paid until your medical treatment concludes or you have reached “maximum medical improvement.” Treating your injury is a process that can take months or years, depending on the severity of your injuries. Most hospitals and doctors expect you to pay at the time of treatment or within a short period afterward.
There are several options available to help you with the financial burden of medical bills. The best choice for you depends on several factors, including your auto insurance, the severity of your accident, and the at-fault driver’s car insurance. The following list includes the most common options available to help you.
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- An auto insurance policy’s no-fault benefits
- If your injuries are severe, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy might agree to cover your medical bills before you even settle your case, though this isn’t the norm.
- “Medical payment coverage” or “med pay” might be available through your auto insurance carrier.
As an experienced car accident lawyer, I’ll help you understand your financial options and maximize your settlement. Call, text, or email today.
FAQ. I have an insurance adjuster. Do I still need a lawyer?
Over the years, car accidents in Rhode Island have become more difficult to settle without an experienced car accident lawyer. When I first started practicing 35 years ago, it was much more straightforward. However, insurance adjusters became more sophisticated over the years, as did the technology they use to determine your settlement.
While most insurance adjusters act as though they have your best interest in heart, the unfortunate truth is, they do not. Adjusters are skilled negotiators who know how to work the conversation to get you to admit fault or say something that could damage your case. While this might sound cynical, I’ve seen it all. If you’re dealing with an insurance adjuster without proper legal representation, you risk losing out on a larger settlement that could help you immensely in the future.
Knowledge is power. Even if you decide to go it alone, the following points are a good primer for what you need to know before engaging with your insurance agent.
- An insurance company’s number one goal is to pay out as little money as possible. The insurance agent works on behalf of the insurance company and, as such, knows how to negotiate with you, so you’ll accept a quick and unfair settlement. They want to settle fast, ideally before you understand the extent of your injuries. This is why it’s in your best interest to retain an experienced attorney who knows how to negotiate with the insurance company and fight for the compensation you deserve.
- The insurance company is against PIP (personal injury protection). PIP, also called med-pay, is no-fault insurance coverage that pays for medical expenses and lost wages up to a specific amount. Insurance companies who offer PIP are often very reluctant to give it to you. If you do receive PIP, many insurance companies will want it back if you receive a settlement. Again, this is where a skilled car accident attorney can help you obtain fair compensation and keep that money in your pocket.
- Insurance adjusters often request witness statements and medical records late. Typically, within the first thirty days, an insurance company will request a list of potential witnesses and obtain a recorded statement. Within sixty days of an accident, the insurance company requests your medical treatment records. They may even use your medical records against you, denying a claim because you went to a particular doctor or hospital. Remember, time is not on your side in a motor vehicle accident. Failing to request witness statements and medical records in a specific timeframe will hurt your claim.
- Colossus is a colossal disadvantage. Insurance companies deal with regular claims every day. They do not have the training or experience to handle complex situations relating to auto accidents, motorcycle crashes, or personal injury claims such as bike accidents. Instead of taking an individualized approach, insurance adjusters default to expensive software designed to keep money out of your pocket and with the insurer. The most well-known software is Colossus, used by many insurance companies, including Allstate, Travelers, USAA, and others. Though Colossus might be appropriate for evaluating soft-tissue claims (though it always favors the insurance company), it fails to handle severe claims reliably. Nevertheless, it’s used to assess all claims and always results in an unfair settlement for you.
- Insurance adjusters want you to go it alone. There’s a huge advantage in dealing directly with you versus an experienced car accident lawyer. Adjusters will exploit your ignorance about the process to get you to settle for less or outright deny your claim.
If you are in an accident and your insurance company is not budging or, worse, not responding, contact our office right away. At Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law, we have the experience to take on your insurance company. We’ve worked with Allstate, USAA, Travelers, MetLife, Aetna, and many other insurance companies to help our clients get the maximum settlement in personal injury cases.
FAQ: How do I choose the best Rhode Island car accident lawyer?
Finding the best car accident lawyer in Rhode Island doesn’t have to be challenging—if you know what to look for and what to avoid.
Many personal injury attorneys operate “settlement mills.” Settlement mills are essentially assembly lines. These attorneys work on volume. The more cases they take on and quickly settle, the more money they make.
Often, these are the attorneys you see plastered all over billboards and advertising on television. Often this is the only time you’ll see the attorney. Once you retain a settlement firm, you’ll work with a paralegal or inexperienced attorney. They are the ones in charge of ushering your case quickly and efficiently through the settlement process. They negotiate with insurance adjusters, many of whom they have relationships with because they do business with them often.
Settlement mills are very similar to insurance companies. They focus on minimizing costs by pushing claims towards a quick, low-ball settlement. Again, this is the volume-based business model—more for them, less for you.
Here are a few red flags to help you determine whether or not you’re dealing with a settlement mill:
- Aggressive advertising. While this isn’t always an indicator of a settlement mill lawyer, most settlement mills advertise aggressively on TV and billboards.
- Settlement mills sometimes offer reduced contingency fees. Many settlement mills will reduce their contingency fee in exchange for a quick settlement. Once you’re in the assembly line, the goal is to get you in and out as fast as possible. While a prompt payment might sound nice, the fact is, your settlement amount will be much lower with these types of law firms.
Do not settle for a subpar law firm or the allure of a fast payout. At the very least, make sure you take advantage of free consultations from a few different lawyers to understand your options.
If you have specific questions relating to your car accident case or want to discuss your particular case, contact Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law.