Being involved in a car accident is both traumatic and can lead to a severe financial burden as well. While such occurrences are tragic and sudden, what you do immediately afterward will have a major impact on your success or failure in seeking fair compensation.
Personal injury claims with insurance companies can go south if you don’t have a solid foundation for your claim. The last thing you need while seeking a rightful reimbursement for your losses is being rejected in bad faith.
Here is what to do after a car accident:
In severe cases, an automobile crash may either render you immobile or make it very painful to force yourself on your feet. Don’t push yourself too hard. However, if the accident was minor, check yourself for any bruises and injuries.
Do the same for any passengers accompanying you. If you need help, call 911 or ask someone else to do so if you can’t. Request bystanders for their help – hopefully, they will be more than willing to lend you a hand.
Muster up every shred of your strength and get to the safety of a sidewalk or at least on the side of the road. If your car is still driveable, pull up on the side – leaving it in the middle will disrupt the traffic flow.
However, if your vehicle is smashed pretty bad and not safe to drive, leave it there with the hazard lights on. You may need assistance in getting to safety, so don’t hesitate to ask for people’s help.
Switch off your car's engine, turn on the hazard lights to let the incoming traffic know of the emergency ahead.
People may even show up to help.
Let the police know. Even if the accident is minor, in some states, it is a legal requirement to inform the police about any accident.
Wait by your car, or at least near it (on a sidewalk), and when the reporting police officers arrive, tell them everything. Having a police report at hand is important for facing the insurance company.
If the police can’t come to the spot for some reason, you’ll have to go down to the nearest station to file your complaint.
Once all the preliminary stuff is taken care of, get straight to the business. If the other driver has not fled the accident scene, exchange information with them, and take note of stuff like:
The other party will also demand such information from you. However, there is one thing that you should not discuss at this point, and that is a fault. Once you're through with this stuff and file an insurance claim for personal injury, the insurance adjusters reviewing will decide who's at fault based on the information provided by both sides (this can be challenged in a court of law).
If the police show up, take note of the officers reporting to the scene. Ask for their names and badge numbers (they are legally required to display them).
Write these details down for later use.
Ask for a copy of the police report because your insurer or the at-fault driver's insurance company will demand to see it. If you were involved in a hit and run accident, the police might charge the other driver for a misdemeanor or even a felony (if the injuries were severe).
Get to work even before the police officers arrive.
Take photos of everything that highlight the accident details: your car (if you were in one), your injuries, those of anyone else accompanying you, vehicle damage (and keep a record of the cost for repairs), and anything else that can help your case.
You should also photograph the other person's vehicle registration number.
If there were any cameras nearby that could’ve recorded the whole thing, ask for their recordings (or better yet, have your lawyer dig up the proof). You should also talk to all bystanders, request their assistance, and seek their contact information.
Victims must keep track of their financial losses, medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and so on for the insurance companies.
You have a 72-hour period of time for visiting your doctor, don't delay it. Seek medical help as soon as possible so that you can list down all the bodily damage you have sustained.
Remember to keep track of your medical expenses.
The rest is simple: victims must file their claims with the insurance companies of the at-fault parties or their own insurance providers in the case of hit and run accidents (with the accident reports and assorted evidence such as bills for injuries or the cost of automobile repairs).
If you get a fair settlement, in accordance with the personal injury protection (PIP) component of their insurance policy, go for it.
But, sometimes, the insurers may try to downplay your suffering or deny coverage of some aspects of the accident in an attempt to pay less. Insurers are also known to flat out refuse to pay up.
If that happens, walk away without saying anything, you have legal rights, and you should use them.
If you’re being treated unfairly, then it’s about time to get an accident lawyer on board to deal with the mess. Share all the details with your personal injury lawyer and let no page unturned. Don't delay this matter, as the statute of limitations only offers you a two to three years window to file your personal injury lawsuit.
The evidence you gathered and the contact information of any bystanders may become valuable assets for your personal injury lawsuit. The latter can become firsthand witnesses of the whole thing. Don't handle them on your own. Ask your accident attorney to visit them because witness preparation is not as simple as it seems.
Your lawyer will also calculate compensation for pain and suffering by multiplying the total economic losses by a number up to five depending on intensity. Prepare your case to its fullest and then take matters to the court of law. Depending on the severity of your losses, you may get compensation as high as $300,000 (for severe cases).
Be patient during the lawsuit settlement, which may take up to one year to resolve. Just remember to do your part, like hanging onto those receipts for your medical expenses.
Auto accidents can be emotionally and physically overwhelming, but expert legal consultation for personal injury law, even for minor motor vehicle crashes, is only a phone call away, even for minor accidents – it doesn’t hurt to explore your options.
Our team of experienced car accident attorneys at the Firouzbakht Law Firm has been helping clients like you claim their rightful financial compensation (corresponding to the extent of damage) for years now. Don't worry about paying upfront because you'll only have to pay when you win.
Give us a call today, and we’ll guide you through the rest!