The time after a car accident can be frightening and confusing. What will happen to your car? Will your insurance pay, and if they do will your rates go up? Will anybody face criminal charges? Could you be sued? These and many more questions are likely racing around the minds of most people after an accident.
So, what should you do after an accident? Is there a proper protocol to follow? Anybody you should call? It is natural to feel confused and scared, but the best thing to do alleviate those concerns is to be proactive.
Document the Scene
Immediately following an accident, attempt to document the scene as best you can. If you have a smartphone (and it survived the accident), take photographs of the vehicles, their position, any skid marks on the ground, any property damage and damage to the vehicles themselves, and any conditions that might have led to the accident.
Also, try to get names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Police will probably obtain this information and put it in their report, as well, but it is best to get it for yourself, too. This will avoid any delay in waiting for the police report to be made available, and you can ensure that you get the information for as many people as possible, even those that might otherwise have wandered off once the police arrive.
This, of course, assumes that you are not seriously injured and are able to move about under your own power without risk of further injury. If you are injured, contact 911 for assistance and follow the directions of paramedics when they arrive on the scene. If they tell you to hold still, do not attempt to document the scene yourself. Instead, if you are close to someone who can help, call them and ask them to do it for you.
Contact an Attorney
Most people call their insurance company immediately after an accident, but this can be a mistake. Instead, call an attorney first. Why?
Insurance companies are businesses and, as such, exist solely for the purpose of making money. They make their money by collecting the premiums paid by their insureds, but every time they have to pay on a claim they lose money. It is in an insurance company's best interest, then, to keep down the amounts that they pay on claims, even if those amounts are rightly deserved.
Also, in most accidents, there will be more than one driver's insurance company involved. This could result in a bit of finger-pointing and delays in paying your claims. When you are in the process of trying to pay your bills and get back on the road, these delays can be almost as painful as the accident itself.
But, if you contact an attorney first, he or she can get involved in your case from the very beginning. Most personal injury attorneys will have experience dealing with insurance companies and can help you push your claims through for quicker and more complete payment for your injuries and losses. An attorney can also guide you through the steps that will need to be taken to protect your interests, make your claims, and pursue recovering for your damages from other drivers (if applicable).
And, most attorneys who specialize in car accident cases work on what is known as a “contingency fee” basis. This means that the attorney does not get paid until you do, and they take a percentage out of the recovery they obtain for you. This gives them incentive to work fast and to get you the best recovery possible, all while sparing you the burden of most out-of-pocket expenses.
Cooperate With Your Attorney and the Insurance Company
Once you have spoken to your attorney, he or she will likely ask you to remain involved. This may take the form of doctor's visits, interviews with investigators, and conversations with insurance companies. Follow your attorney's directions and do as they ask. Remember, your attorney is on your side. So, even though you may not like visiting the doctor, if your attorney asks you to do it you can rest assured that the request is made to help you advance your case and maximize your recovery.
Similarly, if the insurance company(ies) ask you to submit documents or other materials related to the accident, and your attorney feels it is appropriate to do so, then you should cooperate with those requests. It may, at times, feel as though you are being over-burdened by these requests, but remember that the insurance company merely wants to substantiate your claim in order to ensure that you are actually entitled to everything you claim.
If you or a loved one have been injured and need to speak with an attorney, Call Martin E Goff Today at (567) 298-4661
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