Knowing what to do when you are involved in a car accident can mean the difference between being properly treated for your injuries and receiving fair compensation for your loss, or having continuing pain and getting little, or no compensation for your injuries and losses.
From fatal multi-vehicle pileups to minor fender benders with delayed muscle injuries, car accidents can cause serious injuries and can have long term negative effects on your life. If you or someone you love is involved in a car accident, it is important you take quick and decisive action to ensure your safety and protect your future interests with a personal injury claim.
Regardless of who was at fault, there are certain things you should do after a car collision. First, and always most important, you should make sure you are okay. If there is any question about injury, get medical care as soon as possible. Minor muscle injuries at the time of the collision may seem like they are “not a big deal” and you may think they’ll resolve, but experience shows that they can actually get worse, and then, the delay in getting proper care might well mean those injuries are harder to treat and take longer to resolve.
Next, to obtain full compensation for your injuries and other losses – things like medical bills and lost wages, and pain and suffering, you should take the following actions. They are aimed at making sure you are fairly reimbursed for the incident, and they are most helpful in avoiding actions that might raise or create your liability for it.
- Remain at the scene of the accident.
- Make sure all drivers and passengers are okay.
- Call the Police.
- Exchange information.
- Speak with witnesses.
- Contact your insurance Provider.
- Take pictures.
- Obtain dash cam footage when possible.
- Get estimates for Property damage.
- Document your medical care.
The Police Statement
If there were injuries a police officer who responds to the accident scene will probably prepare a report. The police officer’s observations from the scene are included in the report, along with information on who was issued a ticket. Often the report will note that you suffered injury. Having a police record can help support your version of events and resolve insurance conflict if the other party’s insurer suggests the events happened in a way different that the truth. The report will also be helpful in establishing that you had injury.
Finding the Cause of a Crash
Finding the cause of a car crash is important to insurance companies. Understanding how liability is established can keep you from having to pay for someone else’s mistakes because insurance companies make their “fault” decision on several factors. The accident type, state traffic laws, and the police officer’s account of the incident will all play a significant role in the insurance company’s choice.
Speaking With the Insurance Adjuster
Insurance companies may request to record your statements and responses to their questions during a telephone call. It is best to decline this request. Recorded statements can and will be used against you if it is in the insurance company’s best interest and helps them limit or deny their liability. Before you ever talk to an insurance company adjuster, talk to an attorney. That conversation is always free, and the attorney can guide you properly. If you do talk to an adjuster, stick to the facts of the car accident. Once you have given this basic information.
The right of way and other state traffic rules may have an impact on how fault is determined. Additionally, certain accidents are strongly suggestive of fault. The other driver will typically be held accountable if they hit you from behind, as rear-end incidents are relatively common. Similarly, a driver performing a left turn will often be held accountable in the event of an accident.
When an intersection collision occurs in the presence of a stop light, it is common for both drivers to claim they had the green light. If this happens to you, get witness statements or video from mounted cameras at intersections or nearby businesses. If your car or the car or witnesses are equipped with a dash cam, this can provide vital evidence to support your claim of right of way.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it is important to know your legal options and be able to make informed decisions about your injury and potential liability claim. If you have additional questions, please call our office at 703-854-9288 or 301-298-8383. We will be happy to evaluate your personal injury claim and help in everyway we can.
Attorney Paul Samakow