These are commonly asked questions and answers directly from attorney Afram Malki. If you have a question that isn't on here, please reach out to us directly and attorney Afram Malki and any of our qualified staff will be happy to assist you.
Q: What if I'm in an auto accident, but there's really no damage and it doesn't seem like I'm hurt, do I even need to bother calling the police?
A: Yes, you should always get a police report of the accident. If the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction of you auto accident (based on where the accident happened) refused to come to the scene to make a report, you should always exchange complete information with the other driver for a number of reasons. First, you or someone else may have suffered an injury that has a delayed onset (something common to whiplash-type injuries). Also, just because there does not appear to have been damage to either vehicle, it may turn out that your car suffered structural rather than cosmetic damage such as a snapped engine or transmission mount, or bumper strut damage. Finally, just because the other driver may say that everything's okay, it doesn't mean that person can be trusted to simply let the matter lie. Should you trust a stranger not to call the police and claim that you left the scene of an accident? Many times the other driver admits the accident was their fault and than later states that the accident was not there fault. It's best to get these documents without a doubt. Finally, Failing to report an accident can be a separately charged traffic offense. Insurance companies can now deny coverage based on your failure to take reasonable steps to identify the driver of the car that hit you. So now that you see where failing to gather information, call the police, or both, can get you, what do you think the safest course is? You should always call the police so they can make a report of the accident or at least exchange complete information with the other driver for a number of reasons. First, you or someone else -- in either vehicle -- may have suffered an injury that has a delayed onset (something common to whiplash-type injuries). The same may be true for the other driver. And, just because there does not appear to have been damage to either vehicle, it may turn out that your car suffered structural rather than cosmetic damage such as a snapped engine or transmission mount, or bumper strut damage. Finally, just because the other driver may say that everything's okay, it doesn't mean that person can be trusted to simply let the matter lie. Should you trust a stranger not to call the police and claim that you left the scene of an accident? (This is a serious offense in New Jersey and, and demolishes your credibility later when trying to record how the accident happened - after all who will the police and insurance company believe - the person who left the scene of an accident or the person reporting it? Failing to report an accident can be a separately charged traffic offense.). Insurance companies can now deny coverage based on your failure to take reasonable steps to identify the driver of the car that hit you. So now that you see where failing to gather information, call the police, or both, can get you, we hope you won't make the mistake that many people often do.
Q: The accident wasn't very serious. Should I still see a doctor?
A: YES!!! Yes and as soon as you can. You may not know for days (sometimes even weeks) whether you've suffered physical injury or whether the injury is serious (meaning: will those little aches and pains go away, or will they just keep getting worse?). Another reason for seeing a doctor is that if you ultimately pursue legal action against the at-fault driver or a third party, documentation regarding medical reporting, treatment plans and the like will be essential to proving a case for damages. One day, we all may be looking at your case trying to get you paid or settle it - or even to determine if you have a case; the insurance companies looking at this will ALWAYS hold against you that you did not seek treatment or at least diagnosis right away. They will argue that you knew you had treatment available to you (through the PIP portion of your policy) but you did not seek treatment or diagnosis - so therefore you were not injured. Trying to convince anyone that you were doctoring at home and babying it along to see if it would all go away is a tremendous uphill battle - a lot of attorneys do not want to fight that battle with you and will decline to take your case because of this (it happens too often by law firms across the country).
Q: Do I need a lawyer for my auto accident?
A: Yes, of course you need a lawyer for your auto accident. Insurance companies will seriously try to trick and take advantage of you so that they don't have to pay you for your claim or case. When the accident first happens they usually will assure you that they will take care of your vehicle and any injuries, only to make you low ball or minimal offers or find a way to trick you into not offering you any payment at all. Determining the value of a damaged vehicle or totaled vehicle is easy and sometimes people are able to get a fair settlement with the insurance company on their own, but determining the value of an injury claim is extremely difficult (it requires experts). The injury claim is the biggest part of the auto accident claim and is the part that brings in the highest amount of money by far. Even the smallest injury to your priceless body is worth a lot more than any vehicle is worth. Injury claims are the portion of the auto accident claim process that insurance companies fight the hardest against (finding fictitious reasons not to pay, minimalizing injuries, offering amounts that are way too low, etc.). We at Malki Law: The Car Accident Firm will do your property damage claim for free (whether we win your case or not) if you are to hire us to handle your injury claim. Studies show that people who hire lawyers get way more money for their personal injury claim. As attorney Afram Malki often says, "If insurance companies do the right thing, you wouldn't need to hire a lawyer, but unfortunately, they don't and this is why you see thousands of injury attorneys on TV and radio warning you not to fall victim of insurance companies. Insurance companies are similar to the present day mafia and shouldn't be trusted without a lawyer. A person who represents themselves, truly has a fool for a client ;)
Q: How long will it take my auto accident claim/case take to be resolved?
A: This depends on many factors and each claim/case is different. The property damage portion of the claim gets settled quickly and usually within a couple weeks because it is easy to determine. Anyone can locate the value of a car or how much it will cost to repair a bumper fairly quickly. Injury claims are however extremely complex requiring experts, evaluations, and reports. Injury claims yield a high amount of money and this takes on average between 6 - 8 months although we are Malki Law: The Car Accident Firm do our best to get these claims resolved for the highest amount and as quickly as possible because we know that your time is valuable!
Q: How much is my auto accident claim/case worth?
A: Your auto accident claim and case are PRICELESS because you are priceless. Auto accidents affect your health and you cannot put a price on that. This is why we at Malki Law: The Car Accident Firm always strive to get you the policy maximum of each insurance policy involved. We always recommend to our clients that they deserve and need the policy limits and only settle for a less amount when our clients express to us that this is what they want to do. We will always consult our clients and even potential clients on what we think they should take for their case, so always reach out to us if you would like to know as it all depends on the facts of each case.
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