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The insurance company is not your friend − understanding your rights after a car accident

Insurance companies often recruit customers by using slogans that indicate that they are attentive, available, compassionate, neighborly, and understanding - characteristics you might find in a good friend. But at the end of the day, an insurance company is not a friend - it's a business. Insurance agents may seem friendly and many are nice people, but at the end of the day, the agent's job is to protect the insurance company's bottom line.

Many accident victims simply don't understand how the insurance companies operate or the role insurance adjusters play in resolving claims. However, by working with an experienced personal injury attorney, you can get the information you need to make sure you are treated fairly.

Determining Negligence

When it comes to personal injuries, Pennsylvania assesses damage based on contributory negligence. This means the amount of fault a responsible person is assigned in an accident is directly related to the amount that their error contributed to the accident and the injuries suffered because of it.

For example, if an SUV hits a sedan in an intersection while running a red light, there's a good chance the SUV driver will be assigned a greater percentage of the blame. That amount may be reduced, however, if the sedan driver was speeding or was distracted by talking on his or her phone at the time. If the SUV had faulty brakes, the manufacturer might also share the blame. Furthermore, if the vehicle was recently serviced and the mechanic who worked on the car failed to properly repair or notify the vehicle's owner of a glaring defect, the mechanic or the company he or she works for could share in some of the responsibility.

As you can see from the example above, accident claims can get confusing when multiple parties are involved. This is another reason why it's important to work with a lawyer who knows how to handle the complexities of these types of claims.

What You Need To Do

If you've been injured in an accident, there are a few things you can do to help your claim:

· One of the first things to do is to contact a personal injury attorney to help you navigate your claim

· If it is physically possible, take as many pictures as possible of the crash site, damage to vehicles and injuries

· Get contact information from witnesses, and cooperate with police as you are able

· Exchange insurance information with others involved in the accident, and let your own insurance company know that you were in an accident

If you were seriously injured, you may be incapacitated and unable to accomplish the above on your own. Your attorney can help you with all aspects of your claim, including gathering evidence and dealing with the insurance company.

Your insurance agent will likely want to know as much as possible about the accident and your injuries. However, your attorney can make sure you say the right thing ( or don't say anything at all).

It's important to get a professional medical assessment before you offer a statement. "I'm okay" in the moment may turn into chronic neck and back pain for the rest of your life and a reduced earning capacity. Don't lock yourself into assessing the impact of the accident and your injuries until you are certain as to what they are. You also want to beware of quick settlements that will likely ignore many of your future expenses.

How Much Can I Expect To Get From An Award Or Settlement?

Medical bills that result from immediate treatment after the accident are on the top of most people's list when it comes to compensation. But other factors will also be considered:

· Anticipated future pain

· Future medical bills related to your accident injuries

· Lost wages from being forced to miss work

· Lost earning potential

· Mental anguish

At Shollenberger Januzzi & Wolfe, our firm has been helping those suffering from personal injuries due to the negligence of others for more than 20 years and we are ready to hear what happened in your car accident.

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