No one ever plans on being involved in a car accident, so when it does happen, many people are unsure of what to do or who to turn to for help. What should you do immediately following the accident? When can an attorney help you? Here’s what you need to know:
What should you do after a car accident?
You may be in complete shock after being involved in a car accident, but try to calm yourself down and think clearly. Your first priority should be calling the authorities and seeking medical treatment for your injuries. Even if you don’t believe your injuries are serious, it’s best to get checked out by a doctor in case you have an injury that is just not visible, such as a concussion. Keep all documentation related to your injuries so you have proof of the expenses you incurred as a result of the accident. You should also follow the doctor’s orders regarding medications, additional tests, and follow-up appointments closely. If you don’t, the insurance company could argue your injuries were not as serious as you claim because if they were, you would have followed the doctor’s orders.
If you can, take pictures of the scene of the accident so you have documentation of the property damage, your injuries, and any traffic signals that the at-fault driver may have ignored or violated. If there is a dispute over who caused the accident, these pictures can help determine who was at fault.
It’s important to exchange contact information with the other parties involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses who could have seen what happened. But, that’s as far as your communication with the other people on the scene should go. You should never engage in conversation about what happened or take blame for the accident.
When do you need an attorney?
Some people aren’t sure whether they are in need of an attorney after an accident. How can you tell when your case warrants an attorney? If the accident involved any type of serious injury that required a trip to a doctor, you should consult with an attorney about your legal options. Attorneys can also help in cases involving fatalities. If the police report does not accurately describe the events of the accident, or puts you at fault when you believe it was the other party’s fault, an attorney can help. Basically, if believe you were injured in a car accident because of another person’s negligence, it’s wise to get in touch with an attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a personal injury claim.
If you chose to start the process off on your own, but are struggling to come to an agreement with the insurance company, an attorney can take over and handle the negotiations on your behalf. But, keep in mind it’s in your best interests to let an attorney handle it from the very beginning so you do not accidentally say something to the insurance company that can be misconstrued and used against you later on.
An attorney can also help when the insurance company is acting in bad faith. An insurance company acts in bad faith when they deny you the coverage you have paid for, refuse to pay the claim before even investigating the issue, fail to pay the claim in a timely manner, or don’t provide you with an explanation for why your claim is denied. In these situations, an attorney can be your ally in the fight for justice.
If you’re in doubt, it’s always best to contact an attorney to discuss the accident and determine if you have the right to file a personal injury claim.
How soon should you contact an attorney?
It’s recommended you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. Why? The at-fault party will immediately notify his insurance company, who will then try to get in touch with you to discuss what happened. You should never give a statement to an insurance company without first contacting an attorney. Remember, the insurance company is not looking out for your best interests. They are not concerned with how much you might have in medical expenses or how many days you may have had to take off of work because of your injuries—insurance companies are only concerned with getting you to accept a low settlement offer. An attorney will be able to deal with the insurance company for you so you don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing or agreeing to a number you’re not satisfied with.
There is also a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, meaning after a certain period of time has passed, you will no longer be able to file a claim to recover compensation for your injuries. In most states, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. This may seem like plenty of time, but it passes quickly, especially when you are recovering from a serious injury. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the sooner he can begin the process of formally filing a claim.
Once you get in touch with an attorney, you will need to provide him with all of the information you have about the accident, including your recollection of what happened, the other parties’ contact information, the police report, and medical documentation of your injuries. Then, your attorney will determine what he thinks your personal injury claim is worth, and begin the negotiation process with the insurance company. If an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation, the case will have to go to trial.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact the Trial Lawyers for Justice to discuss your case in a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Contact us today by calling 888-811-0844 or filling out the online form on our website.