Car accidents can be overwhelming and traumatic experiences. In the aftermath, individuals must prioritize medical treatment, obtain contact information from witnesses, document and collect evidence, file an insurance claim, and negotiate with at-fault parties.
While these tasks may seem straightforward, the legal system can be intimidating for those who do not work with it on a regular basis. The following tips are a good place to start:
Seek Medical Attention
One of the first things you should do after a car accident is seek medical attention. Even if you don’t feel any immediate symptoms, it is essential to visit a doctor to ensure that your injuries are properly documented. Medical records can prove your injuries and the extent of your damages, and they can help you receive fair compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses.
In addition, a doctor can identify any hidden or delayed injuries. Often, the adrenaline from a car accident masks pain and discomfort, and some injuries take days or even weeks to show up. However, a thorough medical evaluation can catch these injuries and prevent them from worsening or developing into permanent health problems.
It is important to follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Not only will doing so speed up your recovery, but it will also strengthen your case against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters are looking for anything that they can use to undermine your claim, such as discrepancies in medical records or pre-existing conditions.
Moreover, seeking medical treatment will provide official documentation of your injuries, which will causally connect them to the car accident. Moreover, your lawyer can refer you to medical professionals who will treat you on a lien for a percentage of your eventual settlement. This can alleviate your financial burdens and allow you to focus on your recovery.
Seeking medical attention after a car accident is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your rights. In addition, an attorney can help you gather other forms of evidence to strengthen your case, such as receipts for medical treatments, repair estimates and bills, and detailed accident reports.
Report the Accident
It is important to report any accident to the police and your insurance provider as soon as possible. Many car insurance providers, including GEICO, make it easy to report an accident with their mobile app or online form. You also agree to report accidents to your insurance company when you sign your car insurance policy contract. Failure to comply with this clause could result in fines or even a denial of coverage.
A police officer will interview all parties involved in a crash to gather details about the incident. He or she will write a report that includes essential information such as the date and time of the crash, the names and contact information of all drivers and passengers, ownership and registration information for vehicles, injuries and damage sustained by victims, weather conditions at the time of the accident and more.
The report also outlines how the officer believes the accident occurred and who is mostly at fault. Depending on the laws of your state, this determination can be extremely important. Insurance companies may use the officer’s opinion to determine who is liable for the crash and how much money you will receive in compensation.
An accident report can also be useful when arguing your case to the other driver or their insurance provider. If you are claiming injuries, the officer’s opinion about how your injury happened will support your claim for damages. Without a police report, an insurance company may question your claim or argue that your injuries did not result from the crash. An accident report will provide proof that your injuries did indeed occur in the course of your accident and at the same time as the collision.
Gather Thorough Evidence
It is essential to document evidence in a car accident case. Evidence includes documents related to the injuries that you suffered, as well as medical records and other documentation pertaining to your financial losses and damages. It also includes information about the accident scene, such as photographs, witness statements, damage to vehicles and their positions on the road, skid marks, weather conditions, etc. The burden of proof is on you to prove that the other driver was at fault and that you suffered as a result of his or her negligence. Without adequate documentation, you won’t be able to recover full compensation.
The most important step in gathering evidence is to photograph the accident scene. If you are unable to do so due to injuries, ask someone else to take photos or video for you. This will help to show an impartial view of the accident. It will also help to provide valuable details to insurance companies, legal professionals, and the courts when determining liability for an accident.
You should also get the contact information for eyewitnesses to the accident. If they are able to stay at the scene, you should ask them to wait for police and give a statement about what they saw. Eyewitness testimony is valuable because it can provide an objective account of the crash and can verify your version of events.
Other sources of valuable evidence include your medical bills and medical records, as well as any receipts or pay stubs that you have from being out of work because of the accident. Evidence of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering can be more difficult to document, but journals, psychological evaluations, and testimonies from family members and friends can all play a role in helping to establish the full impact of your injuries.
Notify Your Insurance Company
When you report the accident to your insurance company, they will inform you of how to proceed and what options you have available for securing compensation. It is a good idea to have all your policy information at hand and be ready to answer any questions you may have. It is also helpful to keep organized records of expenses, billings and other documents related to the crash.
No matter who is at fault for the accident, you must notify your insurance company immediately. In some states, if you fail to report an accident within a certain timeframe, your insurer may not be required to cover your claim at all. You can also be held liable for damages in the case that the other driver is uninsured or underinsured.
You must be completely honest with your insurance representative. You must provide them with a detailed and truthful account of the crash. Lying or withholding information can be considered fraud and can put your case in jeopardy.
Insurance companies will often try to pressure you into accepting an immediate settlement offer. Never sign anything without consulting a car accident lawyer first, no matter how desperate you are for cash. Insurance adjusters deal with claims on a daily basis and know how to get people to settle for less than they deserve.
Be polite but firm with any insurance representatives. Avoid making any admissions of fault or suggesting that you caused the accident. Even if you believe that you are partially at fault, this could hurt your chances of receiving a fair and adequate amount of compensation. You must also refuse to give a recorded statement unless you are advised to do so by your lawyer.
Consult an Attorney
A car accident can be a traumatic experience that leads to severe injuries and costly damages. Regardless of how minor the accident may seem, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the crash. During an initial consultation, a lawyer can provide answers to your legal questions and offer guidance in navigating the adversarial process set in motion by insurance companies and their representatives.
In most states, including New York, a car accident victim’s medical bills and lost wages will be covered by their own policy up to $50,000, regardless of which party was at fault for the crash. However, if the injured parties incur expenses in excess of this limit or have significant damage to their vehicle, it is often necessary to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
An experienced car accident attorney like Wisconsin car accident lawyer can help determine the total value of your damages. This involves a thorough analysis of the extent of your injuries and the costs they will have on your life in the future, such as past and future medical costs, reduced earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Many car accident injury victims do not have a complete understanding of how much their injuries are worth, which leads them to accept low-ball settlement offers from insurance companies. Having an attorney assist in the valuation of your injuries will ensure you receive adequate compensation to cover all of your losses.
Car accident attorneys are experienced in fighting against insurance companies’ unfair tactics and have the resources to gather all of the evidence needed to prove your case. They can also negotiate with insurance representatives and if the matter cannot be resolved through negotiations, they will fight for you in court.