If you've been injured in a car accident, you probably have a lot of questions. But knowing where to find accurate answers can often be a challenge. That's why our law firm created this list of some of the most frequently asked questions about car crashes.
The Sioux Falls car accident attorneys at Northern Plains Justice, LLP believe injury victims should have access to information they can use to make smart decisions. We see ourselves as partners working together with our clients, working toward the same goal.
But even if you see your specific question answered below, don't try to tackle your case on your own. Every accident is unique, and you need someone on your side who knows how to resolve your particular legal issues. We can help you every step of the way—from your free consultation to taking your case to trial, if necessary. Expect great things from Northern Plains Justice, LLP.
- Do I need to contact the police?
- Should I take photographs of my car accident?
- Should I talk to the other driver?
- Should I talk to witnesses?
- Is South Dakota a fault insurance state?
- What should I do if an out-of-state driver caused my crash?
- Do I need to see a doctor if I feel fine?
- My accident happened several days ago. Should I still see a doctor?
- Do I need to contact my insurance company?
- Should I speak to the other driver's insurance agent?
- Should I accept a settlement offer from an insurance company?
- Can I negotiate for more money for my accident claim?
- How much is my car accident worth?
- How can a lawyer help me deal with car insurance companies?
- How long do I have to take legal action after my accident?
- Should I file a car accident lawsuit?
- How can a car accident attorney help me take legal action?
- Why should I hire Northern Plains Justice, LLP?
Do I need to contact the police?
In most cases, yes. In South Dakota, drivers must report all motor vehicle accidents that result in an injury, death, or an estimated $2,000 or more in damage. However, even if your accident seems minor, we strongly recommend contacting the police. When you do, an official South Dakota Motor Vehicle Traffic Accident Report will be created. This document could significantly improve your ability to obtain the compensation you rightfully deserve. That's because there will be no questions later about exactly what happened.
Should I take photographs of my car accident?
Yes. Photographs can be vital evidence in any accident investigation. Before you move your vehicle, make sure to take photos that show exactly where the two vehicles collided. If possible, also take photographs of any relevant street signs, traffic signals (especially if they're not working), skid marks on the road, and anything else you think might be important to your accident claim.
Should I talk to the other driver?
Yes. However, keep your comments to a minimum. Anything you say to the driver could be used to reduce or deny your accident claim. Simply find out if the other driver or passengers in the other vehicle are injured. If so, immediately call 911, and tell them to send emergency medical help right away. If the driver is OK, ask for the following information:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Driver's license number
- Insurance information
Provide the same information about yourself to the other driver, and then wait for the police to respond to your accident.
Should I talk to witnesses?
Yes. Witness statements can be critical pieces of evidence in accident investigations. If someone saw the other driver crash into your car, you will likely have an easier time collecting the compensation you deserve. Make sure you get the witness's full name, address, and phone number, so you, the police, or other accident investigators can get in touch with them.
Is South Dakota a fault insurance state?
Yes. That means, the insurance company for the driver who caused the car wreck must pay for the repair costs and medical expenses for the driver who was not at fault. But that's often easier said than done. Many insurance companies will do everything they can to blame the innocent driver. That's why it's critical that you have us on your side, standing up for your rights and holding insurance companies accountable.
What should I do if an out-of-state driver caused my crash?
Accidents involving out-of-state drivers are common in South Dakota, especially on major highways like Interstate 90 and Interstate 29. It's important that you contact the police, then contact us as soon as possible. We know how to handle such complex cases and how to track down out-of-state drivers and their insurance companies. That's because we have years of experience working with car accident victims. Leave the details to us. We can move your legal case forward.
Do I need to see a doctor if I feel fine?
Yes. Even if you don't believe you sustained an injury, it's critical that you seek immediate medical attention. Sometimes, accident victims sustain life-threatening, internal injuries. Many of these injuries (including traumatic brain injuries and injuries to internal organs) must be treated right away, even though symptoms may not be immediately apparent. It's also important to know that if you don't seek medical attention after your accident, you could have a hard time collecting compensation from an insurance company. That's because they may question whether you really got hurt in your car crash. Play it safe. See a doctor. Then call us.
My accident happened several days ago. Should I still see a doctor?
Yes. Some injuries are not obvious right after an accident. Along with internal injuries, many back and neck injuries often take several days to reveal themselves. This is especially true for whiplash, a term used to describe a certain type of neck sprain often caused by rear-end crashes. Whiplash injuries often occur when a vehicle rear-ends another car and the necks of the driver or passengers in the front car are violently jolted back and forth. The pain and suffering associated with whiplash are real. And if you don't see a doctor, you won't have a record of this injury or any others. As a result, you might have a hard time obtaining the compensation you rightfully deserve.
Do I need to contact my insurance company?
Yes. However, keep your comments to a minimum. Even though your insurance company should be on your side, you need to be careful about what you say to insurance agents or anyone investigating your car accident. Anything you say about your crash could potentially be used to reduce or deny your accident claim. This is often true for hit-and-run accidents. Your own insurance company is normally responsible for compensating you after such accidents. But if they believe you did something to cause your crash, they might try to deny your claim. The same is true if investigators believe you caused the accident. That's why we strongly urge you to contact our law firm. We can negotiate on your behalf and advocate for your best interests.
Should I speak to the other driver's insurance agent?
No. Anything you say about your crash could be used by insurance companies to justify not paying the money you deserve. If the other driver's insurance company contacts you, politely decline to answer their questions, and direct them to contact our law firm if they need any additional information. We know how to deal with insurance companies and how to answer their questions in an effective, professional manner.
Should I accept a settlement offer from an insurance company?
Always carefully review any settlement offer before agreeing to accept it from an insurance company. What might seem like a generous amount of money might not cover the "true" cost of your accident. Many offers from insurance companies often only address short-term expenses, including emergency medical bills and lost income for the work days you missed immediately after your crash. But what if you're still in pain years afterward? What if you need additional medical care or have to miss more work? What if you need to make modifications to your home due to sustaining a permanent injury? What if the pain and suffering linger for years? You deserve to be compensated for all of these things. And if you agree to accept a settlement offer from an insurance company immediately after your accident, you could forfeit your right to receive more money in the future. That's why we strongly urge you to contact our law firm. We can help you review your settlement offer and decide if you should accept it.
Can I negotiate for more money for my accident claim?
Yes. Insurance companies don't want people to know that they have the right to ask for more money after a serious car wreck. They hope most people will simply accept whatever they're offered. We strongly believe that accident victims should not have to pay for someone else's mistakes. If another driver caused your crash, that driver or his insurance company should pay your bills, pure and simple. And we can negotiate on your behalf.
How much is my car accident worth?
Every case is different. Some accidents are worth a few thousand dollars. Others might be worth millions. The difference depends on a number of factors—the severity of the injuries, medical costs, damage to the vehicles, and whether you or other injury victims can return to work. Don't simply assume that insurance companies will give you everything you rightfully deserve. You need us on your side, building a unique case to address your specific needs.
How can a lawyer help me deal with car insurance companies?
A great car accident attorney does more than simply negotiate for more money on a client's behalf. A lawyer can serve as your advocate with insurance companies every step of the way. From filling out forms to taking an insurance company to court if necessary, an attorney can serve as your voice throughout this complex process. Most insurance companies hire legal teams to defend their best interests. Having a law firm on your side can level the playing field and help you accomplish your goals after the crash.
How long do I have to take legal action after my accident?
In most cases, you have up to three years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit or take other legal action in South Dakota. This is due to the state's statute of limitations law for personal injury claims, which is S.D. Codified Laws § 15-2-14(3). But just because you have up to three years to take legal action does not mean you should wait that long. The longer you wait, the harder it often is to build a strong legal case. Over time, evidence can disappear. Witnesses move away or their memories fade. That's why it's critical to keep your case moving forward. We'll help you keep the momentum going, so you can get the result you need.
Should I file a car accident lawsuit?
Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is the most effective way to resolve your car accident claim. Even knowing you're considering taking legal action can sometimes be enough for insurance companies to negotiate with you. But going to court isn't your only choice. That's why it's important to contact our law firm to discuss all the legal options available to you. We can walk you through them during your free case evaluation and help you determine the right course of action.
How can a car accident attorney help me take legal action?
In order to file a successful lawsuit, you need to have the facts on your side. That's where a lawyer can make a difference. Great attorneys know how to find the evidence needed to build strong legal cases. Such evidence can include:
- Statements from witnesses
- Expert analysis of accident reports
- Medical examinations which support injury victims' claims
All of these items and many more often add up to a winning legal strategy. That's why you need a lawyer you can trust in your corner, standing up for your rights.
Why should I hire Northern Plains Justice, LLP?
When you want something done right, that usually means doing it yourself. We understand that mindset. That's because we personally work with people to address their specific legal issues. As your car accident attorneys, we will take the time to fully understand exactly what happened to you. That way, we can create a solution tailored to fit your unique needs. Such a hands-on approach consistently results in favorable verdicts and settlements. That's why we want to meet with you as soon as possible. We know Sioux Falls, and we're eager to put our knowledge of car accidents to work for you.