Car accidents are once-in-a-decade events in the life of the average driver. Immediately following a collision, you are stunned and disoriented at the very least. Regardless of the severity, you’re not likely to act in your best mind. Preparation can help cut through the confusion, and set you up for adequate help later. Here are a few dos and don’ts to internalize the next time you are hit by another car.
Call the Police
A police report is among the most useful pieces of evidence in a personal injury case. Making sure one is written for your collision can go a long way for your case, and the sooner you call them, the more detailed and accurate the report will be.
What’s more, the report will contain useful information such as insurance details, names of drivers and vehicle owners, and driver addresses, all of which can be immensely helpful later on in the case.
Get the Other Driver’s Name and Insurance
Liability insurance is the main source of compensation in personal injury cases. Without knowing the other driver’s identity and insurance information, it can be challenging to maintain a claim. The best solution: get a clear photo of their driver’s license and insurance card.
Seek Treatment, If You Need It
Diagnosing and treating injuries as early as possible is critical. Insurance companies will use a delay in seeking treatment as evidence your injuries are not related to the accident.
Open a Claim with the Other Driver’s Insurance
If the other driver is at fault, their insurance will be responsible for fixing your car and providing a rental in the interim, without cost to you. The sooner you notify them you were hit by their customer, the sooner you can access these benefits.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company will also need to open a file for the accident. Don’t worry! Your rates won’t increase if you aren’t at fault. In fact, if your policy includes Personal Injury Protection, your insurance company will foot the bill for a certain amount of medical treatment. And if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, your own Underinsured Motorist Insurance is another path to compensation.
Call an Attorney
Most importantly, get legal help. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you will have help navigating the often strange and treacherous waters of a personal injury case. Once you have an attorney, you won’t need to deal directly with any insurance companies, and you will have a team of professionals backing you during a difficult process.
You have nothing to gain by admitting fault in an accident. And the circumstances may not be as they appear. You may misremember exactly how the accident occurred, or the law may actually be on your side.
Accept Money from an Insurance Company Without Talking to an Attorney
Soon after an accident, the other driver’s insurance may offer a few hundred or a few thousand dollars as compensation for your injuries. While it is tempting to take the money and not have to deal with insurance anymore, these offers are often much lower than what you are entitled. If you accept this deal, you may be unable to come back and renegotiate.
Insurers will put pressure on you to accept these, but hold strong. With some legal help, you may get a much fairer sum.
Accept Money from the Other Driver
Accepting money to “not involve the insurance companies” will often similarly tank your chances at greater and fairer compensation.
Give a Recorded Statement to an Insurer Without Talking to an Attorney
Insurance companies love turning an injured person’s words against them. Any statements you give to an insurer, even the most benign, can have drastic consequences down the road.
Instead, if they ask for a recorded statement, say, “I think I should talk to an attorney first.”
Walk It Off
If you experience pain or discomfort after an accident, do not tough it out. The true extent of injuries often reveal themselves in the days and weeks after, and will grow even worse if untreated. See a medical professional to determine your injuries and call an attorney to discuss your options going forward.