Being involved in a car crash is a harrowing experience, but also one that is very common in this day and age. With people reliant on cars for so many things in their everyday lives, there are simply more opportunities for minor accidents and fender benders. This is why it is extremely important to be well-informed about the necessary steps one must take after being involved in an accident. Each crash is different and each circumstance must be treated individually, but there are several concrete actions to keep in mind after suffering through an accident.
Alert Emergency Services
This first step may seem obvious, but adrenaline and panic subvert rational thought in many accident situations. Make sure to call 911 and properly convey the injuries that you or other drivers have suffered. Although you may be tempted to help other victims if they are extremely hurt, do not engage if you do not have proper medical training. Improper interference can leave you open to lawsuits or other litigation, and may actually exacerbate serious head or spine injuries.
Gather information at the scene
Make sure that you engage insurance information with the other driver(s). Also ensure that you gather other information such as their name, address, car make and model and other basic driver’s license info. If the accident was serious, take pictures of the damage to both your car and any other car that was involved. Insurance companies highly value photographic evidence when determining blame and settlement figures in accident cases. If there are any witnesses at the scene of the crash, briefly interview them, asking what they saw, who they are, and what the traffic situation was. This testimony can prove to be very valuable in a contested personal injury lawsuit.
Visit your Family Physician or a Medical Facility
Even if you initially appear unhurt, some injuries cannot be detected without the help of a medical professional. Set up a basic checkup with your doctor, and ensure that he or she gives you a full physical exam that thoroughly checks for any hairline fractures, internal injuries or possible concussions. This checkup may save you (literal) headaches in the future.
Repair Your Automobile
You are legally entitled to repair your vehicle at any body shop, so long as you obtain written estimates to present to your insurance company so that they are able to settle your property damage claim. Property damage claims and personal injury claims can be settled separately, without one impacting the other, but it may be a good idea to speak to a personal injury lawyer before you sign anything given to you by your insurance company. Language in a release may affect subsequent claims of any nature, and it is important to verify that you are legally in the clear before you affix your name to anything.
Keep Copies of Accident-Related Expenses
Documents, such as out-of-pocket expense reports or property damage statements, may be important to your case later on. These documents prove that your injury was actually serious, and may be the difference between a successful and a failed claim. Keep duplicates of every expense in a safe place in your home.
Exercise Caution When Dealing With Your Insurance Company
Although your insurance company is indeed YOUR insurance company, this is a bit misleading — insurance companies are run as businesses, and as such, they are concerned with profit rather than personal aid. Their goal is to increase their relative profit margins by bilking drivers out of proper compensation for injuries or other claims. Make sure that you do not sign anything you do not understand, and that you contact an attorney with any questions or concerns.
Contact a Competent Attorney like Heiting and Irwin for a Free Consultation
In order to combat the legal strength of behemoth insurance companies, you need a team of experienced injury lawyers on your side. Our firm is experienced in making insurance companies shoulder the full weight of their clients’ claims, and we promise to aid you in your fight in any way we can. Being the victim of a car accident lawyer is painful and troubling — let us aid you in your struggle for justice.