Side impact accidents are the second most fatal type of accident behind only head-on collisions, so if you’ve been involved in one it’s likely your injuries could be severe. Filing a personal injury claim can get you the damages you deserve, however you need to prove that you were not at fault for the accident.
If the case goes to trial, you could be eligible for compensation for medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, wrongful death, or others depending on your state of residence. More often, cases are settled before trial on an agreed upon sum.
Proving Your Case
To prove the other driver is at a fault and win your personal injury claim, you need to prove the other driver was negligent or broke a traffic law. Traffic laws are especially important in side impact accident claims.
Causes of side impact accidents include:
- Not stopping at a four-way intersection including running a red light and rolling through a stop sign.
- Not yielding to another car when traffic codes dictate you must.
- Turning across traffic lanes or driving (even accidentally) into oncoming traffic when turning left.
- Reckless or aggressive driving or driving while drunk or impaired.
- Talking on the phone or texting and driving.
- Equipment failure
- Bad weather that interferes with your driving ability and/or visibility
In side impact collisions where an obvious traffic laws are broken, many drivers admit fault. However, in other accidents it can be tricky to figure out who was at fault because some involve finer points of traffic laws. For example, many accidents happen because both drivers believed they had the right of way. You need to show through the facts that the other driver broke one of these or another traffic law and that action caused the accident.
Each state differs on their comparative negligence laws, but it can affect the amount you're paid. This means that most states will decide the percentage you and the other driver were at fault, and your payment could be lowered if you are found to be even a little bit at fault.
Filing a Claim
You want to start by gathering all the evidence you can get. Police reports hold a lot of weight in these cases, but you should also try to get witness statements, photographs of the accident and accident site, and your medical records for anything accident-related injury.
Once you have all of your evidence, you first need to write a demand letter to the other party’s insurance company. The letter should have detailed accounts of the accident, your injuries, and your recovery, as well as the specific amount of money you are demanding. Give the insurance company a date, and tell them you will file a claim if they don’t pay what you deserve.
If insurance the company accepts a claim, it’s extremely rare for them to do so without at least a little negotiation. Having a qualified personal injury lawyer is a good idea when sending a demand letter, and essential if you take the claim to court, especially if the case goes to trial.