There are approximately six million car accidents per year, an average of more than 16,000 every day. If you’ve been injured in a car accident there are a number of things you’ll want to do in order to ensure a fair car accident settlement. Here, we’ll dive deeper into the top 10 tings you should do if you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
#1 Stop the Car
Never drive away from the scene of a car accident, even if both drivers agree that it was a minor accident with no injuries and nothing needs to be done. The other driver could later claim they had a delayed onset whiplash injury and claim it was a hit and run.
Even if you were clearly not at fault, if you leave without exchanging information with the other driver and you have an injury pop up days later, you’ll have no means of contacting the at fault driver and getting compensated for the injuries you suffered in the car accident.
#2 Protect the Scene of the Auto Accident
This is a crucial step not only for purposes of keeping any evidence of fault and cause intact, but also for the safety of yourself and other drivers. It’s a well know fact that many car accidents are caused by earlier car accidents and the hazards & distractions they pose to other drivers on the road. You can prevent more car accidents by putting out flares or at least turning your blinkers on. If it is dark and your lights are not working, you should have a flashlight in the car to stay safe while you wait in your car or away from traffic. Make sure you get yourself, and if possibly your vehicle, out of the way of oncoming cars and info a safe, well lit place.
#3 Call the Police
Even if there is only minor property damage, it is wise to call law enforcement. You could need a police report to file an auto accident claim with your insurance company. It’s also an important step in documenting exactly what happened. It’s always better to negotiate a car accident settlement with the help of a factual record written by a neutral 3rd party. Without a police record of the incident, the other driver could claim injuries popped up days later, claim that you were at fault, or make any number of other false accusations. Having a police report of exactly how the auto accident happened and who was at fault the could be crucial evidence needed to back your case, defend against a false claim, or ensure you get a fair settlement for your auto accident injuries.
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#4 Make An Accurate Record
When law enforcement arrives on the scene of the car crash, tell the police exactly what happened from your perspective. Just tell what you know, stick to the facts, and do not embellish anything. If there is something you do not know, tell the officer you don’t know or can’t remember. Never speculate, guess, or misstate anything. If you are asked if you are hurt and you don’t know, say you are not sure. Pain and injuries from a car crash may not be felt for several hours afterwards. Most importantly, never admit you were at fault for a car accident, it could be used against you when the insurance company is determining where to place blame and liability.
#5 Take Lots of Photos
It’s fair to say that in the US, nearly everyone has a cellphone with a camera these days. In th aftermath of an auto accident, it’s crucial to take pictures of vehicle damage and their positions on the road. Include the damage to the other vehicles involved in the accident, not just yours. Also take pictures of any injuries you may have suffered in the crash. If there were road conditions that contributed to the accident, such as a giant pothole in the road or a malfunctioning traffic signal, make sure to take photos of those too. The more pictures you have, the stronger your auto accident claim will be.
#6 Exchange Contact and Insurance Information
The investigating police officer usually gets the information for any drivers that were involved with the auto accident. But you should still get the name and contact/insurance information for other drivers in the accident, as well as contact information for any injured passengers or witnesses that may have seen how the accident happened. Having a neutral 3rd party witness to strengthen your claim can be the difference between getting a fair auto accident settlement and having to pay out of pocket.
If the police come to the scene, the officer usually gives each driver a police report number as well. Make sure to keep this in case you need to reference the report, or get the poice report amended after the car accident.
#7 Report the Accident to Insurance
Tell your insurance company about the auto accident as soon as you can. Most policies require you to tell them about the crash as soon as possible or a car accident claim could be denied. Find out if medical benefits are part of your policy. If you have med pay, you can have that part of the policy pay for your medical costs while the liability issue is dealt with between the insurers. Once your med pay benefits run out, you may need to use your health insurance or pay out of pocket for medical expenses until there is a settlement or verdict reached in the case.
#8 Get Medical Attention
Car accident injuries may not be apparent right away. Many common car accident injuries do not show symptoms for a day or two. Unless you are positive you were not hurt, you should go to the ER or your doctor immediately. Even in a minor collision, you may have suffered a neck or back injury you do not feel at first. You also could have a concussion and not know about it for days.
If you do not seek medical attention right away and get it later, the insurance company may say that you were not hurt in the auto accident, but by some other cause. Seeing the doctor immediately establishes a medical record immediately after the crash that is vital to getting a fair auto accident settlement.
#9 Maintain a File
Keep your documents and information related to the accident in a folder, and keep that folder safe. This information should have a claim number, the claim adjuster doing the claim, and the name and contact info for all parties that were involved in the accident. Keep all receipts for expenses you incur after the accident, including medical bills, taxis, and more. Document any days you missed work and calculate how much money you would have earned on those days. If you find yourself unable to perform daily functions like playing with your kids or cooking dinner, or are missing out on hobbies, personal pursuits, etc, make sure to document that as well – it could have an effect on the pain and suffering multiplier and as a result, help make sure you get a fair auto accident settlement that covers all your expenses.
#10 Consult A Car Accident Lawyer
Unless you were in a minor fender bender with no injuries, you may consider hiring a personal injury attorney, or at least consulting with one. Your attorney can protect your legal rights and make sure evidence is not altered or destroyed. Insurance companies like to get statements from the drivers right after an accident. But you should have had legal advice before you talk to an insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to lowball claimants who don’t have legal representation, knowing many of them are unaware what’s included in an auto accident settlement.
Your lawyer can advise you on how to ensure you get fair compensation for damage done to your car and how to get the best medical treatment possible. He also can make sure that you do not say anything to the other insurance company that can be used against you. It is often best to leave all conversations with the opposing insurance company to your attorney.
Don’t worry about the cost of hiring an attorney for your car accident case, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. They only get paid if you are awarded money in an auto accident settlement or lawsuit verdict. That is why the attorney will carefully review your case before taking it.
If he thinks you can’t win or the money involved is not worth hiring an attorney, he will be sure to tell you. Personal injury attorneys only take cases where there is a strong possibility of both winning the claim, and getting substantial compensation for their client, and by default, themselves. .
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