Tuesday, December 6, 2016

12 Things to Do After a Car Accident

Over 6 million car accidents occur in the United States each year. Fortunately, most of them only involve damage to the vehicle(s), as opposed to the occupants. However, 1 in 3 accidents involve an injury to the driver or passengers. And 2 out of every 10 accidents lead to fatal injuries.
Luckily, if you or a loved one is involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your interests. The law clearly allows for victims of negligence to recover their damages; but it’s not a given. You must be proactive in protecting yourself. The following are 12 initial ways you can do that.
Stay Put.
Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it’s only a minor incident. Not only is it illegal, but it will look bad if you—or the other driver—are injured. It also speaks to fault. So just find a safe place to get off the road and pull over.
Notify the Police.
Call the police as soon as possible after an accident. It is a mistake to assume that ‘everything can be worked out between the drivers’ or that the driver who now assumes liability will later tell the same story to their insurance company. Police officers are trained to document the details of a crash and also to take statements from those who were involved. This is crucial information when it later comes time to figure out what actually happened. Police reports do not have all the answers, and they may not tell the whole story, but police officers are considered trusted authorities, so the information they record could be crucial later.
Seek Medical Care
Even if you don’t think you’re injured, allow a medical professional to check you out anyway. If you are in pain—even if it’s minor—document it by having a doctor examine you. You don’t technically have to get medical attention right away in order to be able to file a claim later, but the sooner you do it, the more credible your injuries will seem.
You should also check on the other people involved in the accident to see if they’re okay. Get medical attention for anyone who needs it. If a person is unconscious or has neck or back pain, don't try to move them until the EMTs arrive; it could cause additional damage. If you are injured severely and must be transported to the hospital, it’s a good idea to have a trusted person gather as many of the following things as they can, as soon as they can.
Gather Information

Gathering information at the scene of the accident will be extremely beneficial later. Trade information with the other driver(s) involved. Take down their name, address, phone number, and their driver’s license number. Also make sure you obtain their insurance carrier and policy number. Likewise, you should get all the information you can from police officers. Get their names, badge numbers, and write down the police report number. This is one of the many times that having a smartphone changes everything. Just snap some photos of their IDs, insurance info, etc. and you’ll have all the information in one place. You should also ensure that you take note of and gather any information from any witnesses who may be nearby. This is critical. Note their names and contact information, do this quickly as many of the witnesses will leave after making sure everyone is "all right." Later, witnesses could play a crucial role in supporting your claim.
Take Pictures
Keep that cellphone out after taking photos of everybody’s info. Take pictures of everything. Take pictures of the damage and position of all the vehicles involved before they’re moved. Record the weather and road conditions, placement of the traffic lights, intersections, and people at the scene. Likewise, take picture of all your injuries, including scrapes, bruises, cuts, etc. Basically, you want to capture as much information as possible, right away. Pictures are often an integral part of putting together what happened. If you are unable to take pictures because of your injuries, have someone you trust do it; this step should not be skipped. Make sure to back up your originals when you get home by emailing them to yourself or by transferring them to another medium.
Do Not Discuss Fault
If you were the one at fault, or if you think you may have been at fault, do not make any statements or say anything that could be taken as an admittance of fault. Even if the other driver admits fault, do not talk about it. You should, however, speak truthfully with police officers and your own insurance company describing exactly what happened. Don't talk to a representative of any other insurance company besides your own until you have discussed it with your attorney or your own insurance company. If the other insurance company wants to speak with you, politely ask them to contact your attorney or insurer to arrange an interview. Be sure to let your people know about the call, as well.
Call Your Insurance Agent
All insurance policies require that you notify your carrier immediately when you are involved in a collision. You must do it as soon as possible. Insurance is generally a complicated subject. How and whose insurance will cover what is dependent on PIP, bodily injury coverage, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, and so on. It goes without saying that before you’re ever involved in an accident, be sure to assess your coverage. It doesn’t seem important, until it is.
Take Notes/Keep a File
As soon as you are able, write down everything you can remember. Document what happened, the road conditions, what was said afterward, whether any citations were issued, your injuries, who you have spoken with, etc. Insurance disputes and personal injury claims are two things: First, they’re not cleared up overnight; Second, they are all about details. For these reasons, documenting as much as possible—so you can remember them later and so you have records of important details—is a beneficial idea.

Put any notes you take, along with all the documentation you have gathered, into a large, secure folder. It is also helpful to scan each document into a file on your computer. It may be months, or years, before the crash is fully resolved. Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include everything from the claim number to every medical bill you’ve received.
Add to your Notes
Over the next several days, weeks, and months you will most likely make several phone calls and exchange many e-mails. Document everything that was said, dates and times, appointments, diagnoses, etc. Take notes on any medical care you received including the dates and doctor's names with the care you received. 
Be Aware
Everything that you do and everything you say—including what is posted on social media—could come back to haunt you later in your case, even if you believe that it was said in confidence or posted on a private social media account. Although it’s by no means mandatory, we highly recommend that clients disable their social media accounts while their case is active. The opposing attorneys could gain access to old photos, current posts, or people who may know you; it’s perfectly legal. Just be cautious about any information you give out.
Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
If you're offered a settlement from an insurance company early in the case, be extremely cautious. They are a business, and just like any other business, they keep their costs low by paying out as little as possible. What may sound like a lot of money now, may not even come close to compensating you for all the costs that may lie ahead. Before any offer is considered, confirm all your physical injuries have been treated, since some injuries don't show up or reach their greatest level of discomfort until many days, weeks, or months later. Don't settle a claim until you know you'll be compensated for all your injuries, and consult an attorney before signing any settlement documents. The insurance companies have a team of lawyers to consult, and so should you.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
It’s absolutely imperative that you protect your rights, especially during a time when you’re vulnerable, like after an accident or while you’re injured. Personal injury attorneys devote their professional lives to protecting the rights of injured victims and getting them all of the compensation they deserve. An attorney who focuses their practice on personal injury law knows the ins-and-outs of insurance practices, civil laws, and courtroom procedures. Additionally, they often have an extensive network of doctors, investigators, and experts who have the interest of injured victims—not insurance companies—in mind.
Dolman Law Group

If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident or injured due to someone else’s negligence, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group. We have devoted our practice to helping those injured victims who may not be in a position to take on the large insurance companies by themselves. It’s our aim to provide big firm results with a small firm’s personal touch. One of our experienced attorneys will be happy to go over your case with you during a free case evaluation. You deserve to recover physically, emotionally, and financially. Call to schedule a free consultation at 727-451-6900 or email us on our contact page.