A car accident lawyer can protect you from insurance companies that try to downplay your injuries or convince you to accept a low settlement. They can also handle conversations with the other driver’s representatives and their insurance company on your behalf.
If safe to do so, take photos of the accident scene and write down license plate numbers of all cars involved.
Call the Police
Sometimes car accidents seem minor enough to just exchange insurance information with the other driver and drive away. Maybe both of your cars have a few scratches and dents and nothing is broken in either vehicle.
You may think it is unnecessary to call the police, but it’s always a good idea to do so even for seemingly minor crashes. This will satisfy your legal obligation to report the crash, which will help you later if you need to make a claim for accident-related damages or injuries.
In addition, the police can provide an objective perspective of what really happened. They can also help calm tempers and prevent the situation from escalating. When talking with the police, avoid admitting fault or saying anything that could be taken the wrong way by the other driver’s insurance company. It’s a good idea to also ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses. They may be able to provide valuable eyewitness accounts.
See a Doctor
While you may feel fine after a crash, it is important that you see a doctor. Some injuries do not show up until days or even weeks after a collision. If you wait to seek medical treatment, it could damage your claim.
Seeing a doctor can also help build a case for compensation. You can get a full report of your accident-related medical issues that you can use to demonstrate the severity of your injury.
It is also a good idea to take pictures of the scene of the accident. Use your cell phone or ask a witness to snap pictures of the cars involved, any visible injuries, traffic patterns, the accident site and anything else that could be helpful. These pictures can act as evidence to prove the cause of the car accident and your damages. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may contact you about the accident, but it is best to speak with an attorney first before giving any statements.
File a Claim
Assuming you’re unharmed, exchange insurance information with the other driver(s) and take photos of the scene. It’s also a good idea to record the names and contact information of any witnesses, so they can later testify that it was not your fault.
You should also call your own insurer right away to report the accident and file a claim. Your insurance company will work with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to figure out who is responsible for the damages.
Keep in mind that each individual insurance provider has a specific reporting deadline for car accidents. The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it will be to prove your case. Once you’ve filed a claim, the insurance adjuster will likely request additional information, such as photos of the damage to your vehicle and the contact information of any witnesses. They may also request your medical records to examine the extent of any injuries you sustained in the crash.
Hire an Attorney
Many laws and rules determine when, how, and against whom you can pursue legal action for damages after a car accident. A lawyer can answer your questions and guide you through the process.
If you’re able, take photos of the scene of the crash as well as damage to your car. The photos should include skid marks and other evidence, such as the position of vehicles in relation to each other, nearby buildings, signs, and trees.
Insurance companies will contact you after a crash, and they may try to use a variety of strategies to discount your claim. They may use your words out of context to show you admitted fault, they may dig through unrelated medical records, or they may offer low settlements that won’t cover your expenses. If you hire a car accident lawyer, they can handle all communications with the insurance company on your behalf. They can also help you identify all parties who have potential liability to pay for your damages.