If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident, it’s best to be prepared. Below is a list of things you should do should you find yourself involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Stay at the Scene: In most, if not all, cases, motor vehicle laws require a driver involved in a car accident with a pedestrian, moving vehicle, parked car, or property to remain at the scene and exchange information. Additionally, you are required to provide help to or seek assistance for anyone injured in a car accident that involves you. If you leave the scene of the accident, you could be charged with a hit and run offense, which carries fines, jail time, loss or suspension of your driver’s license, or all three.
Notify the Police: You should call 911 immediately. When on the phone with the 911 operator, inform them if anyone is injured and needs medical attention. If you crashed into a parked car or other property belonging to someone else, and they are not present on the scene, you must leave a note with your name, address, insurance information, and license plate number. You must also report the accident to the police.
Gather Information: You will need to get the name, address, contact information, driver’s license number, name and address of the owner of the car, and the name and policy number of the other driver’s insurance company. Be prepared to share the same information with the other driver or property owner.
Additionally, you will need to get all contact information for:
A. The owner(s) of all other vehicles involved in the accident
B. Any passengers in the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident
C. Any witnesses to the car accident
Take Pictures: You can use your cellphone to take pictures of all the vehicles involved in the car accident. Make sure to get pictures of the extent of damage to all the vehicles.
Talking to the Police and Other Drivers: The most important thing to remember when speaking to the police and the other drivers involved in a car accident is this: do not volunteer information about who you believe was to blame. When talking to the police, be cooperative. Remember, anything you say to the police or other people involved in the car accident can be used against you at a later date.
Working with the Insurance Company After Your Car Accident
Once you’ve reported the car accident, your insurance company will open an investigation, and a claims adjuster will contact you soon after. At that point, your claims adjuster will do some or all of the following:
- Request a copy of the police report regarding the car accident
- Photograph your vehicle
- Make contact with the other drivers involved in the accident
- Contact any witnesses to your car accident
- Request you to sign a medical release form so they can have access to your medical records.
- Contact your health provider
- Ask you to get repair estimates on the damage to your vehicle
Settlement offers from Car Insurance Company
Once your insurance company has completed their investigation, they may try to offer you a settlement for your claim. This settlement offer will depend on what type of injuries and/or other damage you suffered. If you have agreed value car insurance, you already know the value of your car.
You do not have to accept any settlement offer from an insurance company. If you and your insurance company cannot agree on a settlement amount, there are other options available to you. You can appeal to your insurance company’s adjuster’s supervisor, or contact a car accident attorney to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
If you or a loved one was the victim of a car accident, you have the right to sue for personal injury losses, which could include:
- Economic losses, including all medical expenses over $50,000
- Pain and suffering.
- Death as a result of the injuries
If you or your loved one doesn’t know exactly what to do, or you don’t know whether you have a personal injury case, you should contact a car accident attorney to assist you. Most personal injury attorneys take car accident cases on a contingency basis. This means that you do not have to pay the attorneys unless they win your case.
If you and your attorney decide to file a personal injury claim in court, your attorney will give you all the details about when and where you need to show up and appear in court.
If you or your loved one is involved in a car accident, it can be a frightening and traumatic experience. Often, car accidents involve complicated and complex legal issues in relation to the injuries you suffered and liability. An experienced car accident attorney can help you through these difficult times and ensure you and your loved ones receive all the compensation you deserve.