One minute you’re driving along and the next your car gets hit by another driver. The impact is so strong that you’ve sustained some injuries and your car looks pretty banged up, too. The worst part of it is, none of this was your fault. Thoughts start racing through your mind but you know it is important to remain calm and act responsibly. If this is your first accident or the first time the accident was serious, you’ll need to take these steps:
Pull Over and Contact the Authorities
The first and most important step is to pull over and contact the police. Your insurance company will want to see a police report. Plus, you might also need emergency medical services to tend to your injuries. If you’re not able to pull over, turn on your car’s hazard lights to let the traffic around you know to stop until the police can figure out how to divert it around your accident.
If you’re able, you need to get out of the car and take photos. Try to get clear pictures of damage to your vehicle, your injuries, and the surrounding scene of the accident. You’ll also want clear pictures of the other car and any damage it sustains–a picture of the car’s license plate is good, too.
Exchange Insurance Information
Without admitting guilt or fault, you need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. This will be necessary for you to file a claim. It is helpful to take pictures of their ID and insurance cards as well as writing down their policy number and contact info. If the other driver refuses or doesn’t have their insurance information readily available, you can bring this up to the authorities when they arrive. They can issue a traffic citation and demand that the other driver show proof of insurance.
Get Witness Accounts
If there were witnesses present at the scene of the accident who are willing to give their statements, you need to get this information from them. Try, if you can, to get their full name and a contact number just in case the police, insurance company, or your attorney needs to get in touch with them.
Get Police Report
You’ll need to give your account of what happened to the police. They will then provide you with details on how to obtain a copy of the report after it has been filed.
See a Doctor
If you haven’t already, go see a doctor so that you can have a clearer picture as to the status of your health and any injuries you may have sustained.
Contact a Lawyer
Personal injury claims can be difficult to manage on your own. And, if you feel that you were not compensated fairly, you may wish to go to court. That is where having an attorney makes sense. You should look for an attorney located near where you’ve been hit. For example, if you were in New York and got hit on your way to Connecticut, you might want to run a “personal injury attorney White Plains NY” search on Google to help you find someone to guide you through the process.
File a Claim
Time is of the essence here. The longer you wait the harder it will be to prove that you are, in fact, the victim in this case. You need to contact your insurance provider right away to let them know about the accident. Remember, do not admit any fault or guilt–even if you feel bad about what happened. This can seriously hurt your case. Provide specific details and send over any required documentation requested. Your insurance agent may advise you to take your vehicle into a repair or body shop for estimates to determine the cost of the damage.
Wait for Settlement Offers
Once they’ve gathered all the information they need, your insurance company will contact the other driver’s insurance company. They will then determine who was at fault and discuss settlement options. They will reach out to you and/or your attorney to discuss these offers.
File a Lawsuit (If Necessary)
If you’re not happy with what is offered (sometimes insurance companies will lowball you just to reduce their out of pocket costs), the only option you have to get what you feel you’re entitled to would be to file a lawsuit. Your attorney will help you with this process. They will help you file a complaint and summons, get the summons delivered, navigate the discovery process, mediation, and then, if necessary, a trial in which they will fight for what you are entitled to under the laws within that state.
Picking up the pieces after a car accident won’t be easy. In fact, the process for getting compensated fairly can take months or even years. Be that as it may, the sooner you act, the sooner you can get results. Remember, although you can go it alone, it is recommended that you hire a personal injury attorney to help fight your case.