The steps that you take in the wake of a car accident can help determine whether you can receive compensation and how much you are able to be paid as part of a settlement agreement or a verdict. Both what you do as at the scene of the accident as well as in the immediate aftermath can help or hurt your case. While a personal injury attorney may not be able to help you at the scene of an accident, they can certainly help you put forward the best possible case in the days immediately following the accident. Here are five things to do after a car accident to help your case.
At the Scene
Immediately after you have had an accident, you need to make sure to both conduct yourself properly at the scene of the accident and take steps to document the accident that can be used later on to help prove your case. With regard to your actions, make sure to stay calm and do not argue with the other driver. It is imperative that, no matter what happened, you do not do anything that can be construed as admitting fault for the accident. What you say can be used against you by the insurance company or in court. Contact the police to come to the scene to fill out an accident report. When it comes to gathering evidence, if you have the ability to, make sure that you take pictures of the accident scene from as many angles as possible. This will be your only chance to get proof of how the accident scene looked before the cars are cleared and some of the evidence goes away. Also, speak to any possible witnesses at the scene and obtain their recollection of what happened. Be sure to get their contact information as well as write down what they have told you so you have it when you need it. Most importantly, make sure to remain at the scene of an accident until you are told by law enforcement that you are able to leave.
Seek Medical Care
Whether it is at the scene or in the days afterward, get medical treatment for whatever your injuries are. If you feel any type of pain at all at the scene, it is always a good idea to get medical help there. This will help get immediate documentation of your injuries. If you wait too long to seek medical treatment, there may be some question as to whether the full extent of your injury was caused by the accident. Even if your pain is minor, you should still get it evaluated by a physician. In addition, your inactivity in this area may be the basis for an insurance company to claim that you did nothing to mitigate your damages. Some injuries may not be apparent immediately after a car accident. For example, whiplash may not always be detectable at the scene. If you feel pain in the days after an accident, it is incredibly important to seek medical help right when you begin to feel the symptoms. The longer after an accident you wait to get assistance, the more causation becomes an issue.
Contact the Insurance Company
Your insurance company needs to know that you have had an accident. They need this information sooner rather than later. If you are not able to contact them from the scene of the accident, take care to contact them when you get home. You do not want your insurance company to be caught unaware if they are contacted by the other driver’s insurance. Instead, you will want them to be well-prepared and armed with your version of events. It is always helpful to start the process of filing a claim sooner rather than later. In addition, once you contact the insurance company, you can set the process of repairing your car in motion.
Pursue Your Claim
Following up on your claim means that you are being diligent about returning calls when you receive them and providing information as requested. If you do not do what is necessary, you may either end up being found liable for the accident because your proof and version of events was not fully received or may find that your claim is denied. While you may have another full-time job, do not abandon the matter after first contacting the insurance company. Instead, you should continue to document your claim and provide the insurance with information as necessary. In the event that you have any deadline, make sure that you do not miss it because late paperwork or filings can affect your claim or case.
Hire an Attorney
While the above steps may help you in filing a claim for compensation, they are not meant as a substitute for experienced legal counsel. An attorney can help you figure out best where to start with your case. You may not be familiar with what you need to do to effectively file a claim, but the attorney does this on a daily basis and will know. A personal injury lawyer has expertise in dealing with the insurance company and knowledge of any tricks that they may try to attempt in order to limit or deny your claim. Dealing with the aftermath of an accident is something that you do not have to do on your own. If there is any significant injury or property damage, or even a chance that the other driver may not be found liable, you need legal help on your side.