Crash and Crunch: The Painful Business of Car Accident Injuries

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People often see car accidents as simple, if horrible, things. But once the law gets involved – and it will get involved – things quickly become complex. Here are the complexities about car accidents that you need to understand.

First things first: the statute of limitations

You may have heard about a statute of limitations in legal contexts. But you may not understand precisely or what it means, or how it even relates to car accidents. Basically, a statute of limitations is a law that sets a maximum time after which legal action can no longer be taken after an accident. It’s a law that can be applied to many crimes and other incidents. There’s a statute of limitations on most crimes, with first-degree murder being one of the few exceptions. (Of course, the length of time permitted by a statute of limitations will vary from state to state.)

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As soon as an accident occurs, the statute of limitations begins. How long you have to file a claim will depend on a lot of factors. It can depend on your ability to file a claim. It can depend on the type of legal action that is being brought forward. To turn things a shade grimmer for a moment, it will also depend on whether or not someone died in the accident. Generally, you have one to two years to take action. This should give you plenty of time. But it’s still something you should know about immediately, just in case you would have been tempted to slack.

At the scene of the accident

When you’ve just been involved in a car accident, you’re going to feel pretty strange. You’re going to be in a state of shock. A lot of people imagine they’d be panicky and even angry. But such an incident can actually instill a strange, rational calm in someone. (This is the shock.) This is, in many ways, a good thing. It’s what results in most accidents being dealt with in a similar way. A quick assessment of injuries, and a calm conversation with the other party. Your body and mind remember what they have to do, and get into action. So it’s important that you know exactly what it is you should be doing!

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Failure to follow the correct steps at the scene of an accident can negatively affect any claims you may make. You need to be ready to start collecting evidence before you even step out of the car. Make sure you know all about these steps sooner rather than later.

Assessing the severity of your injury

Car accident injuries can, of course, range from very minor to extremely severe. While it may sound easy enough to place an injury in a category such as this, it isn’t always so clear cut. After all, most people don’t actually fully understand what injuries they’ve suffered until a good week or two after the fact. It’s absolutely vital that medical attention is sought immediately after an accident, even if you feel fine. Whatever the result of that hospital visit is, you need to keep an eye on your health over the coming weeks. Other problems may develop as you try to continue with your everyday life.

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Assessing the damage to your property

Okay, so you’ve gotten extremely lucky and have managed to evade injury. Good for you! (Now please don’t try to fake an injury in order to get compensation. Insurance fraud may sound oddly alluring, but it’s very easy for them to catch you out. Just sayin’.) But that, of course, doesn’t mean that you’re free of costs. An accident that didn’t injure the driver may still have caused massive damage to the vehicle. (After all, there have been accidents in which cars were flipped around and crushed that still didn’t injure the driver!) The costs of such damage also need to be noted.

Beware the insurance companies

The worse off you emerge from a car accident, the more pressure you’re going to get from insurance companies. You need to be extremely wary about these guys. I don’t want to make you paranoid or anything, but you need to understand that insurance reps aren’t your friends. Refusal to accept liability is commonplace among insurance companies. Even when the fault of the party they represent is clear. The worse your injury is, the more they’re going to pressure you to settle for whatever claim they’re putting on the table. That’s because they don’t want lawyers involved. Speaking of which…

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Get a lawyer involved

Sure, I can’t say definitively that a lawyer is your friend. But their interest is your interest. And that’s why it’s so important that you get legal representation after a car accident. If you’ve been injured, then it’s vital you have someone on your side. Injuries and property damage are going to cost you a lot. But, really, it should be costing the person who caused the problem in the first place, right? The best way to ensure that this happens is by getting a car accident lawyer on the case. You can get more details at Hutchison & Stoy.

Psychological issues

Psychological problems that are the result of car accidents have been placed last on this list. But they certainly aren’t the least of your worries. Mental anguish, as it’s often called in court, can outlast the effects of physical injuries by years. And just because something’s in your head, it doesn’t mean it isn’t severe or life-disrupting.

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In recent years, people have been a lot more open to discussing mental health. This is a great thing. But there are still plenty of people out there who have a hard time recognizing such a problem, let alone admitting it. Someone who has been in a car accident may end up suffering from a variety of psychological problems. A lack of confidence or even a fear of driving might develop. (Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, actually developed a phobia of cars after being in an accident in 1987.) Nightmares and other problems leading to sleep issues can also occur. Depression could even set in. These aren’t always easy to prove, or to link definitively to a particular incident. (At least in the eyes of a judge who has to make that decision.) But they should definitely be accounted for when discussing the painful consequences of car accidents.

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