Even the most qualified drivers can get into an accident once in a while. That is why people insure themselves. In most cases, only the car is damaged, and you have to worry about car repairs only. However, in fatal accidents, injuries are common. After a car accident, most people are scared and in shock, and so they freeze. However, there are certain steps that you have to follow for a car accident and injury claim to ensure that you get compensation for the injuries and the car damages. They include:
Stay at the accident scene
Whether you have been injured or the car is not severely damaged, do not leave the scene. In fact, if you go and someone has been injured, you may face criminal charges. Stay at the location and wait for the police and medical care. You can, however, move to a safe distance as you wait. It would help if you alerted oncoming drivers that an accident has occurred to prevent another crash. You can either turn on your flashers or set up flares to warn them. If it is at night and your lights have been damaged in the accident, use a flashlight to inform other drivers that you are there.
Check for injuries and get medical attention
The next thing you need to do is to confirm whether you have been injured in the accident. Check for any bleeding and swelling. If you had a passenger, also check if any of them are okay. After an accident, most people are in shock, which can hinder one from feeling pain or noticing any injuries. So they ignore medical care and deal with insurance and legal matters, only to later realize that they have serious injuries. These injuries are called delayed injuries. Ensure you get medical attention on the same day of the accident so that the doctor clears you up. If any new symptoms come up even after seeing a doctor, return to the hospital because they may be related to the accident. Since the hospital documents will help support your claim, ensure that any symptoms have been documented. Common signs that you can expect include:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Emotional changes
If your injuries are severe and you have to undergo follow-up treatment, ensure you stick to those appointments. Full recovery should be your top concern. Skipping such appointments can interfere with the compensation you are to get. Most insurance companies will argue that you are already healed, and that is why you did not feel the need to keep seeing a doctor. In the end, this reduces the medical compensation that you would have received.
Call the police
Even if the damages and injuries are not severe, it is still best to contact the police. They are a neutral party, and they will write the report from an unbiased point of view. Give the police a detailed account of what happened. If there are details that you cannot remember, be honest and do not make anything up. They will also ask about any injuries that you have. Rather than saying no, tell them you are not sure because the injuries can present themselves later.
In most cases, when filing for a claim, you will be required to have a police report from the accident. Not calling the police is taking a huge risk because it may hinder you from receiving personal injury compensation for any damages. Remember to get a copy of the report plus the police’s contact details if they are not included in the report.
As you wait for the police, you can gather evidence to help with whichever claim you want to make. Some of the evidence you need regarding the accident include:
Use the camera of your phone to take photos of the scenes of the accident. Take pictures from all directions, including near and further from the accident. You do not know which angles will capture relevant shots, so it is always safe to take from many angles. If there are any skid marks caused by either vehicle, take photos of that as well. Do not forget any traffic signs that are around you. That will help show who was at fault. You should also take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident. You will need close and afar shots of the damaged parts as they will help tell how fast the drivers were going and whose fault it was. If injuries are visible, take photos as they will help when asking for compensation for medical expenses.
A car dashboard camera records what happens in front of the car whenever it is in gear. If you had one in your vehicle, and the accident occurred from the front, you can use it in a personal injury lawsuit or an insurance claim. Check whether the street or road you had the accident on has a Cctv camera, then if possible, request the state to give you a copy.
If the other driver tries to leave the scene, let them identify themselves first. In case it is a hit and run incident, try to capture the other driver’s plate and call the police. If the driver says they do not have a license, insist on any other official document with their details. Do not engage with the driver for a long time as you may find you have said something that can be used against you.
When two drivers have had a collision, each will have their version of the story that blames the other person in most cases. It is therefore essential you take the contact information of any motorists or pedestrian that witnessed the accident. They can give an account of the drivers’ actions that led to the accident.
Ensure you get a copy of the police’s report detailing the accident, including who was at fault. If you cannot get the report immediately, get the police’s contact information to know where you can pick the report later.
Notify your insurance company
It is best to notify your car insurance provider as soon as possible that you have been in an accident. The sooner you report, the sooner any payments to be made to parties involved will be done. You can also check if your medical benefits are covered in the insurance package. That way, your medical expenses will also be covered by the insurance company. Here is where the medical records and bills related to the accident come in. Several insurance coverages that can help prepare you for an accident include:
- Liability coverage; this is when the accident happens to be your fault. The insurance company will cover third part repairs and medical bills.
- Personal injury coverage covers all medical bills despite who was at fault in the accident.
- Collision coverage covers any cost of repairs that the car will undergo after the accident.
- Uninsured motorist protection comes in handy if the vehicle that has hit yours is not insured. Your insurance company will cover all costs of repairs and medical expenses resulting from the accident.
- Comprehensive coverage includes all risks that are associated with your vehicle. Even things like fire, theft, and floods are included in the coverage.
One thing to note is that insurance companies are in business. You ought to be honest with your insurance company when making a statement, but there are things that you should not say to protect your interests. They include:
- Admitting fault in the accident is never a good idea. Mention facts that you remember and keep any emotions out of them. The statement you make can be used against you and reduce the compensation. You may assume you are at fault, and yet you are not aware of the entire situation. Also, do not admit fault to the other driver as their insurance company will use against you.
- Never admit that your injuries are not severe. Some injuries become apparent a few days, weeks, or even months after the accident. Something like internal bleeding or back problems will only become evident later. If you have already made a statement admitting that you have no injuries, then the insurance company will claim your injuries result from something different.
- Do not use statements like ‘I guess’ or ‘I think.’ If you cannot answer a question, simply say you do not know. Do not add any personal opinions or emotions; let your answers be based on facts.
- Please do not give them the contact information of other people involved in the accident. Let them conduct their investigation for any parties they are interested in.
- Do not accept any settlement without consulting with a car accident attorney first. There are several compensations that an attorney can negotiate for you, including property damage, personal injury, future medical bills, and payment for time off work.
- Do not tell them that you do not have an attorney. While most people consider hiring an injury lawyer once an accident has happened, do not give them that information. A personal injury attorney will help you get fair compensation for any damages.
Contact an attorney
One of the ways that you can protect yourself after an accident is by consulting an attorney. Vehicle accident lawyers have the skills and expertise required to take you through the legal process and ensure you get compensation. Do not be hesitant about contacting a lawyer, especially in the following circumstances.
- The accident caused an injury
- Other people like pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists have been involved
- The police report lacks details that you feel are important
- You cannot determine who is at fault
- The accident was in a protected area like a school or a construction area
- Your insurance keeps taking you in circles.
In some situations where the injuries are not severe, or the car has not been seriously damaged, you can decide to pass on legal aid and sort matters with the insurance company. If you are unsure, though, consult with an attorney to be safe.
Hiring an attorney comes with several benefits, including:
Dealing with the insurance company on your behalf. An insurance company is in business, and its goal is to pay as little compensation as possible and quickly. They will send an agent to try and convince you that they have your interests a mind to agree to the settlement they are giving. With a lawyer by your side, they can deal with the auto insurance company on your behalf.
It gives you confidence that a qualified person is fighting for you. With an attorney by your side, any matters involving your case will go through the attorney. That way, they can advise on what is the best course of action. They will tell the amount of compensation that you deserve, depending on the injuries you have incurred. It also gives you time to focus on other things like recovering.
In fatal car accidents, you can get severe injuries like a back injury. The bones and muscles at the back are what holds the body upright. Therefore a back injury can alter your lifestyle completely. When that happens, find a back injury attorney to pursue compensation on your behalf.
When it comes to motorcycle accidents, injuries can be severe since there is nothing to protect them from the impact of a crash. Research the best motorcycle accident attorneys for representation when that happens. Reckless and drunk drivers often collide with motorcycles, causing them injuries. Ensure that your attorney is familiar with drunk driving law so that they can argue your case with expertise, getting you the best compensation. Get yourself an attorney who works on a contingency fee basis. This will ensure that they work hard to win your case since their legal fees depend on you getting compensation.
Getting justice after an accident means that you have received the rightful compensation for any property damaged and personal injuries. The guide above will help you resume your daily activities quickly.