Car accidents often result in injuries and losses. You might think being insured is all that is required in such a situation, but more often than not, this may not be a guarantee you will receive the compensation you are entitled to.
People aren’t really prepared for what to do when they get into a crash and, therefore, sometimes fail to protect their rights and receive compensation from the insurance company.
If you want to stay on the safe side, below is a list of steps to take when dealing with a car accident.
Secure the Scene
If you have suffered a minor accident and have not been seriously hurt, move your car to the side of the road and turn on your hazard lights. You should also set up flares and emergency triangles so that you keep the traffic moving safely. If the accident is severe, don’t move anything.
Be extremely careful, especially if the accident occurs on a highway or a traffic-heavy street.
Request Medical Help
The most important thing to do is to check if you or anyone else is hurt. If that is the case, react immediately by requesting medical attention. Forget about expenses and act as quickly as possible, as it will be harder to determine how hurt someone was later.
Not requesting medical help at the scene of the accident can seriously damage your claims with the insurance company, as it might appear your injuries were faked or caused by a different event if reported later on.
Also, make sure you go into detail when describing your injuries to the medical provider. Everything you say will be documented in a medical record, and the insurance companies will rely on it when evaluating your injury claims. Therefore, don’t downplay your injuries, as you may not be compensated for them.
After being prescribed medical treatment or physical therapy, follow through with it. This will assure the insurance company you truly were injured.
Another useful way to stay safe throughout this process is to document your own injuries in a diary alongside the medical treatments you received, your expenses, the pain you endured, time off from work, etc.
This can be especially useful in helping you recollect the events concerning the accident if a lawsuit ensues and a considerable amount of time passes until going to court. So, write down all the details you can think of following the accident (e.g., the weather and traffic conditions).
Call the Police
As you check on everyone’s well-being, make a call to the authorities so they can conduct a preliminary investigation and write a report on the accident. This will serve as the most significant piece of evidence in determining who caused the accident and who is to receive compensation. As opposed to the other driver, whose story might change later, the police report stays the same and is objective.
You might be offered to settle informally without involving law enforcement, but this can result in you being deceived and endangering your rights to rightful compensation by the insurance company.
Get an Attorney
Insurance agents will almost immediately contact you and offer to help you. Don’t give out any statements before consulting an attorney. This includes talking to your own insurance company as well!
In case the other driver is not insured, it is your own insurance company that will have to provide the coverage. Their goal will be to offer you the lowest possible compensation as they are aiming to increase their stock prices and profits as much as possible by collecting insurance premiums and paying out minimum coverage.
That is why you should only notify the insurance company that the accident happened but refuse to give an actual statement before consulting an attorney.
When choosing an attorney, look for those experienced in motor vehicle accidents, such as S&B lawyers with over 50 years of experience.
Talk to the Witnesses
If possible, reach out to the witnesses and obtain crucial information on the accident from their point of view.
Make sure you act quickly, as most witnesses will not stay around waiting for the police to arrive and question them. This can help the police determine whose fault the accident is and provide them with more information on the witness in case they are asked to testify.
Don’t Argue with the Other Driver
In the heat of the moment, you might feel tempted to get into a discussion on responsibility with the driver of the other vehicle.
Try to stay calm and avoid conflicts, as you may act impulsively due to the stress you’ve undergone, or you may even be dealing with someone who is aggressive or extremely agitated and, therefore, a threat to your safety.
The best thing to do would be not to interact with them, but wait for the police to arrive and take your statement.
All these steps require you to be calm and collected but also act quickly. It is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed at the moment, but try to keep in mind that often time is of the essence and the most important thing is people’s lives and reaching out for medical help.