Many questions come up after a South Dakota automobile accident, but some are asked more often than others. Here are ten questions that our law firm hears on a regular basis.
1. Should I sign forms provided to me by the other driver’s insurance company?
One of the most frequent things that happen after an automobile accident is that the other driver’s insurance company will contact you and request information. The other driver’s insurance company may ask you to sign “authorizations” so that it can get your medical records and wage information. Signing these authorizations is usually a bad idea. Also, federal law prevents insurance companies from obtaining medicalrecords without your permission. It is better to let your attorney obtain the records and then provide them to the other insurance company. This will ensure the insurance company gets only the necessary information.
2. Should I sign any other papers provided to me by the other driver’s insurance company?
Signing any papers or providing any kind of information to the other driver’s insurance company, at least at the beginning, is a bad idea. If you have any doubt about whether you should sign any papers, you should get legal advice.
3. Do I need an attorney?
Not every case requires an attorney. If you have a very small injury and you’re going to heal quickly, you may not need an attorney. However, if you have any sort of significant injury – if you may lose income, your job, or have future medical bills – then hiring an attorney is almost always a good idea.
Some insurance adjusters are trained to discourage people from hiring an attorney. This is a subtle practice known as “controlling the claim.” Some people ask the insurance adjuster if they need an attorney. The response is generally something like “you certainly have that right, but we will treat you fairly and an attorney is expensive. It’s up to you of course.” This may be followed by a quick payment for car repair or an advance for other “incidental expenses.” This procedure is designed to build trust with the insurance company and keep you out of the office of an experienced attorney.
4. How much will an attorney cost?
Many attorneys charge by the hour. However, in most automobile accident cases, Swier Law Firm charges a contingency fee. This means that you don’t pay our law firm unless you win your case. If our law firm wins your case, we charge a percentage of the money recovered.
5. How long can I wait to file my lawsuit?
In South Dakota, the statute of limitation imposes certain time limits on how long you can wait to file a personal injury lawsuit. Essentially, you only have a certain period of time after you are injured by the actions of another person to file your claim. Under South Dakota law, a personal injury action must be brought within three years after the accident occurred. Please note that there are some exceptions to this rule, such as cases involving a minor child.
6. I was involved in an accident in Sioux Falls and the other driver has no insurance. What can I do?
In South Dakota, if you are struck by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, your uninsured motorist (UM) insurance pays for injury expenses for you and any passengers in your vehicle up to your policy limits.
7. After my automobile accident, I lost time from work – can I be reimbursed?
Yes. In South Dakota, even if you used sick leave or vacation, you are entitled to be reimbursed for this time off work.
8. I was involved in an accident near Brookings and the other driver had insurance – but not enough to cover my losses. What can I do?
In South Dakota, underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance coverage pays benefits for your injuries and any passengers in your car if you are involved in an accident caused by a driver who has some insurance, but not enough to cover the losses that resulted from the accident.
9. What is my case worth?
This is a difficult and complex question that depends on several factors.
First, our law firm has to determine who was at fault. If the other person was 100 percent at fault, this is pretty easy. However, not all cases are this simple. There might be an accident where you and the other person may have both been at fault.
Second, our law firm determines your medical bills and lost wages.
Third, our law firm determines any future medical bills.
Fourth, if you can’t work, or if you have to take a job that pays less money, our law firm determines your past and future lost wages.
Fifth, damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and impairment are considered. However, these damages cannot simply be calculated with a computer. Instead, it becomes important to hire an experienced attorney to determine these damages.
10. How long will my case take to finish?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to this question. Each case is unique. Typically, an accident case will take over twelve months to complete. However, if you don’t hire the right attorney, this time can double or triple. Your legal case cannot be properly evaluated and finished until your medical treatment has been completed and you have been released from your doctor’s care.