According to statistics, over 10 million vehicle crashes occur in the U.S every year. Getting involved in an accident, whether fatal or not can be draining. It’s therefore important that you know the right steps to follow.
Because of the trauma and emotions involved in a car accident, many drivers make glaring mistakes. The effect of which reduces your right to fair compensation from insurance firms.
It is our prayer that you never get into an auto accident. However, in the unfortunate event that you do, knowing what to do can help you protect your rights.
Here are the eight legal steps to take after being in a car accident.
1. Ensure Every Person is Safe
No matter what, humanity prevails. After an accident, you must ensure other people are safe. Here’s what you can do:
- Get out of your vehicle, turn on emergency lights to warn other motorists
- If the accident is severe, call the police on 911 and request them to send an ambulance to the scene immediately
- If the accident isn’t severe, call the police on non-emergency hotlines to come to assess the scene and give their report
- Turn on the vehicle hazard lights to warn other motorists. It acts to prevent a chain of accidents
- Don’t leave the scene until you get clearance from the relevant law enforcement authorities
2. Assess the Accident Scene and Exchange Contact Details
Yes, you’re sure that every person is safe. It’s time to take inventory and understand what happened. Take caution and avoid saying anything that could jeopardize your rights.
Here’s what to do:
- Take clear pictures of the accident scene. They should include the vehicles and debris at the scene.
- After taking the pictures, move the vehicles to the roadside. Doing so allows for a free flow of traffic in the area. However, only do this when it is safe to do so. For instance, don’t move the vehicle if there’s a person still trapped inside.
- Don’t apologize or admit to any wrongdoing. Yes, it seems impolite but it’s the right thing to do. If the matter ends up in court, the judge can use your confession to rule against you.
- Exchange details with other drivers on the scene. Ensure you capture the following information: Name, address and contact details of the driver; their insurance information; their license number; the type, model, and registration details of the vehicle.
3. Consult Your Lawyer
Contacting a competent car accident lawyer like, The Alvarez Law Firm, will help protect your rights. It doesn’t matter whether the accident was minor or not, just call a lawyer.
A good attorney will guard against the destruction of evidence. Further, the insurance firm will take statements immediately after the accident. However, don’t tell them anything before getting legal advice from your lawyers. Even better, some injury lawyers will work on contingency fee terms, thus, you don’t pay anything unless the lawyer gets compensation for your injuries.
4. Contact Your Insurer
Call your insurance company and report the accident. Ensure you’re the first to call on the accident. Share all the details of the accident with the insurer for them to process an insurance claim for you. Some firms may send an adjuster to assess the crime scene.
And yes, you should call the insurer whether the accident is minor or fatal. Make sure you do this within a reasonable time. But why?
The effects of an auto accident don’t show up immediately. The pain and injuries may show up sometime later and report late may make the insurer deny your coverage.
5. Seek Medical Attention
Yes, you may feel fine after an accident. But that doesn’t mean you are okay. Remember, injuries from auto accidents take time to show up.
Unless you’re completely sure you didn’t get any injury, visit a hospital for treatment. Even a minor accident can cause devastating effects to your spinal cord.
6. Gather Record Relating to the Crash
Most people think the accident was minor, why should I gather records? Well, having the right, correct and accurate information will work in your favor. Plus, you don’t know whether the other driver will press charges against you in court.
Here’s the information to gather and keep:
- The damage reports for the repair, including the estimates for repair and receipts.
- The police report on the accident.
- Medical records from a professional licensed doctor on the cost and treatment records. Kindly request this information from the specialists you see after the auto accident.
- A report on variations of your income. For instance, did you take some days off to seek treatment or completely recover? Did the injuries affect your ability to continue working?
- A personal journal detailing the social impacts of the accident. For instance, are there emotional issues like stress, health, and mental torture that require compensation?
Remember to share the data you collect with your car accident attorney for legal advice. At times, especially in severe accidents, the attorney will collect this information to build your case.
7. Avoid a Quick Offer
The amount you get as compensation from the insurance agency is dependent on several factors. That’s why you should reject a quick offer for compensation that doesn’t consider all factors.
If you were not at fault, the other driver’s insurer will come to you and ask for a quick settlement. If you check, the settlement comes with a clause that demands you to waive any future claims.
Talk to your lawyer and assess whether the amount is fair and just or not. Also, wait for analysis from your doctor on the status of your health before accepting the offer.
8. Fix Your Car
It’s the last thing you should worry about. Have a professional take a look at your car and identify the areas that need repairs or replacements. Remember, the amount will appear in your compensation claim, so get it right the first time.
As a driver, the last thing you want is to be in an accident. It’s not only devastating but you can have long-lasting injuries. Knowing what to do after an accident is very vital.
For instance, hiring a car accident attorney works to protect your rights and ensure you get the rightful compensation.