Accidents involving cars can be terrifying experiences, leaving physical, emotional, and financial scars. If injured in such an incident, there are several steps you need to take to protect your rights and build a case.
Your rights following a motor vehicle accident include being compensated for injuries, lost wages and property damage. It is vital that you protect these rights by taking measures to document the incident as soon as possible and getting legal advice if needed.
If you have been injured in a car accident, the steps you should take include collecting evidence, documenting losses, reporting the incident to police, consulting car accident lawyers and informing your insurance provider of what has occurred.
This review will outline the steps you must take following a car accident in detail. By adhering to these tips, you may increase your chances of receiving compensation from any negligent parties or your insurers. Our primary focus will be safety.
After being involved in an auto accident, your immediate priority should be ensuring everyone’s well-being, and this may include:
Moving to A Safe Location
If possible, move your car off-road if possible in order to prevent further accidents while giving yourself time to assess the situation and act appropriately.
Turn on Your Hazard Lights
Turn on your hazard lights immediately to alert other drivers of an accident and help prevent further collisions.
Call Emergency Services as Necessary
If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately; do not move injured people unless there is immediate danger to themselves or others.
Collect information regarding who was at fault by collecting data about what occurred at the accident site from witnesses, photographs, etc. Once the scene is safe, collect the following:
- The names and contact info of all drivers involved in the accident.
- The insurance information of all drivers involved.
- Gather witness contact info; witnesses can be an invaluable source of information about what occurred during an accident.
- Take photos of the accident scene; these should include images showing any damages to vehicles, injuries sustained by those involved and roadway conditions.
Reporting an Accident
Most states mandate reporting car accidents when there is any property damage or injuries are sustained. If involved, report it as soon as possible to local law enforcement, and they will produce a report for insurance claims and legal purposes.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you do not feel injured immediately after an accident occurs, it is still wise to seek medical advice as some injuries, such as whiplash, may not become evident immediately.
A thorough medical evaluation will document any injuries sustained and provide treatment accordingly. To protect yourself further from injuries that might not become immediately evident after being in an accident, visit a physician as soon as possible after it.
Preserve all evidence related to an accident, including:
Keep all your medical documents pertaining to treatment (doctor’s notes, prescriptions etc.), as this evidence can demonstrate both the extent of injuries sustained as well as their cost.
When possible, take photographs of the accident scene, injuries sustained and any damages to your vehicle to document what transpired and your losses. Photographic evidence will help prove what has occurred and document the extent of those losses.
If there were witnesses at your accident scene, obtain their contact details and ask them to provide written statements detailing what they saw – this evidence can help substantiate your version of events.
If the police were called to the scene of your accident, request a copy of their report as it can provide invaluable detail like the drivers involved and the extent of damages sustained.
Here are a few tips for preserving evidence
- Do not dispose of anything, whether physical evidence like vehicle pieces or clothing or documents such as police reports and witness statements.
- Make copies of all evidence in case something happens to the originals.
- Safely store this evidence, such as in a file cabinet, safe deposit box or cloud service provider.
By following these tips, you can help preserve evidence in your case and secure compensation that you rightfully deserve.
Keep track of all expenses related to an accident, such as:
Keep track of your expenses related to treatment, such as doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescription costs and any additional costs associated with treatment.
Property Damage Repairs
If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, be sure to document its repair costs.
Car Rental Costs
If renting a car during repairs is necessary for you while yours is repaired, ensure you document the total rental costs as well.
If an accident caused you to miss work, make sure you document your lost wages.
Here are some suggestions for documenting expenses:
- Keep receipts for all expenses associated with medical bills, repairs of property damage, car rental costs and lost wages.
- Track your expenses using a spreadsheet or other document. This will allow you to stay organized and ensure that nothing slips through.
- Regularly update your records; as expenses come up, be sure to add them.
- Secure your records; this could mean using a file cabinet, safe deposit box or even cloud storage services such as Box.com to store them safely.
Communicating with Insurance Adjusters
When communicating with insurance adjusters, refrain from giving recorded statements. Adjusters seek to minimize how much money they must pay out; do the following instead:
Communicate Politely and Cooperate
Being polite and cooperative when speaking to insurance adjusters will help foster good relations between you two, increasing their likelihood of working with you on projects in future.
When providing information to insurance adjusters, always stick to the facts. Don’t overstate any injuries or losses, and avoid making statements you cannot back up with evidence.
Do Not Admit Fault
Even if you believe you were at fault for an accident, it is wise to refrain from admitting your liability to an insurance adjuster, as doing so may make recovering compensation more challenging if injuries result from it.
Don’t Sign Any Documents Without Reading Them Carefully First
If an insurance adjuster asks you to sign any papers, ensure you read through each one of them carefully before signing them.
Get Everything in Writing
Anytime you speak with an insurance adjuster, be sure to get everything in writing; this includes any settlement offers or promises made by them.
Understanding Your Legal Options
If you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your responsibility, filing a personal injury suit to recover damages for your injuries might be possible. The amount of compensation you may be eligible to recover will depend on a number of factors, including:
Extent of Losses
Your losses will determine how much compensation you can recover, including damages, medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
The laws of the state where you file your injury claim can play an integral part in determining how much compensation can be recovered; some states have laws which enable more compensation recovery than others.
Severity of Injuries
The severity of your injuries will play a large part in determining how much compensation is available to you, with severe injuries such as spinal cord or brain trauma being eligible to claim significant amounts in compensation.
Being involved in a car accident can be an emotionally and physically trying experience. Likewise, these accidents often have significant financial ramifications. Following the steps listed above to protect your rights and strengthen your case is crucial.
If you have been injured in a car accident, ensure you seek legal aid as soon as possible. A car injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and represent you in negotiations with the insurance company or in court.