After a car accident, there is a lot that you will need to keep track of, and a lot of steps that you will have to take in order to ensure that you are able to recover compensation from the insurance company. This is especially important if you have been in an accident that someone else caused since you will be filing a claim against their insurance company. Any time you file an insurance claim, an agent assigned to your case jumps into action in order to find every possible way to limit the amount that the company ultimately pays out, and your accident will be no different.
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Many people believe that if they are in an accident that is very clearly the other driver’s fault, there is nothing else that they will need to worry about in terms of complications for their claims. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the insurance company would like you to believe this to be true and allow them to complete their claims investigation without you hiring a lawyer or choosing to negotiate your settlement. When there is a lawyer representing your side of the case, they know that there is an experienced legal professional who is doing their own investigation into the accident, and will look beyond the matter of fault and into the most important issue: how much money you truly deserve following your accident.
If You Have Been In an Accident That Someone Else Caused, Follow These Steps
These steps are meant to give you a general idea of what to do, but one of the easiest ways to go through this process is to hire an attorney immediately. We will be able to take over for you so that you can simply focus on your health and your life without being bogged down by these complicated, confusing, and overwhelming steps that would otherwise be your own responsibility. Of course, there are a few steps at the start that only you will be able to take – so keep this list in mind, and contact Fasig | Brooks as soon as possible for an initial consultation so that we can take over the heavy lifting immediately.
Stop. Scan Your Body For Injuries
The first step after an accident might actually be difficult to do because in the moments after an accident your adrenaline takes over and your body is surging as your “flight or fight” response kicks into high gear. This can cause you to spring into action immediately instead of taking a moment to check in with yourself and your passengers to make sure that everyone is ok – and if not, to make sure that each injury gets the attention it deserves immediately. A common mistake that people make after an accident is to try and fight through the pain while talking to the other driver, police, or EMTs. Trying to ignore the pain will not help your recovery, and it will not help your case. Listen to your body, and if you are injured you should stay put.
If anyone has serious or catastrophic injuries, it may help to alert people at the scene of the accident in the hopes that someone is First Aid trained and certified, or can otherwise administer emergency care while you are waiting for the police to arrive. Depending on where your accident was, EMTs may be to the scene in minutes or it may take longer for them to get there.
Call 911 Immediately
It’s easy enough to assume that someone else will call 911, but what if they are all assuming the same? If you call, it may be redundant; however, it will give you an opportunity to speak with a trained professional who can help you stay calm and give you a better sense of what you can do while you wait for the first responders. Many people do not realize, but rushing through a call with a 911 operator does not mean that they will dispatch police officers, firefighters, and EMTs faster – they are dispatched while you are on the call and answering all of the operators questions can give them a better idea of what the first responders can expect when they arrive.
Tell the 911 operator all of the relevant information to make sure that they are able to provide a full picture to the first responders who will be sent to the scene of the accident. They will arrive equipped to handle most situations, but if there are multiple injuries then more EMTs may be necessary. More importantly, talking to the 911 operator about what happened at the accident may give you a moment to calm down (as well as is possible after a serious accident) and they can give you advice.
Get Medical Attention from EMTs
When the EMTs arrive, make sure that you work with them so that they can do a full scan of your injuries and get a better sense of the type of care that you need. They will not be able to give as comprehensive of a check as you will get at a hospital, but this first check is important so that you can make the right decisions early on, such as whether or not you will go directly to the hospital, or if you can leave on your own. The EMTs will be able to give you suggestions on what they think that you should do, and in certain cases, if your injuries are severe enough, they will take you in the ambulance either way. Check out our guide on riding in an ambulance after an accident.
A lot of people get worried about the cost of an ambulance in the United States, which is understandable considering that the average ambulance in Florida costs over $1,000 in many instances. If the other driver caused your accident, though, their insurance will end up being on the hook for the bill – so make sure that you get the treatment that you need (and deserve) without stressing out about it too much. If you do not take an ambulance, you MUST schedule an appointment with your primary care physician immediately.
Speak With The Officer At the Scene of the Accident
The police officer at the accident will need to create an accident report documenting the situation, including interviews with you and the other driver as well as eyewitnesses in order to try to get an understanding of what happened. They will record eyewitness statements, as well as your own statement, in order to put the whole picture together. They will also issue any citations related to the accident such as speeding tickets, or even criminal charges like a DUI. If the other driver is issued a citation for anything relating to the accident, this will be a big help in your own claims process while trying to establish fault – the first step towards getting the money that you deserve.
Don’t be shy about telling the officer exactly what you think the other driver did to cause the accident. If they were texting and driving, make sure that it goes into the report. If they were speeding, it is essential that you make this known. It might feel strange or uncomfortable to think that you may be getting them into trouble, but when it comes time to get money from their insurance you will quickly see that they are not uncomfortable about paying you as little as absolutely possible. NEVER make a statement that could be misconstrued as an admission to your own guilt.
Get Your Own Photo and Video Evidence
Take pictures and videos of the accident scene. It can be extremely helpful to narrate your video as you show specific things since your memory of the event will fade no matter how vivid it feels right now. Point out directions of travel, mention what you and the other driver were doing at the time of the crash, and anything else that you think is important to note. This will all be very helpful for your attorney when it comes time for them to make sense of the situation and start fighting for a fair settlement on your behalf.
In addition to documenting the scene itself, go through your car and take pictures and videos of all of the damage to it, as well as anything that could help to explain certain injuries you suffered – such as seatbelt injuries, lacerations from broken glass, or injuries from the airbag going off. It can be very helpful to see the vehicle where it ended up after the crash because it will look different when it is in a tow lot out of context. Film the damage to the other driver’s vehicle, as well. Videos are very helpful for your attorney, but still, frames will be equally important when you are exchanging information with the other driver’s insurance company (or need to present evidence to a judge and jury).
Get Follow-up Treatment and Medical Care
If you take an ambulance to the emergency room, then you will not need to actively take this next step on your own since you will be treated by hospital staff. However, in many instances, people are able to leave the scene of the accident on their own. This means that you can go rest in your own bed, in the comfort of your own home, which many people find extremely encouraging – especially during COVID-19. commonly, many of these people wake the next day to discover new aches and pains – some more serious than others – that they didn’t recognize on the day of the accident. This is common, but it requires medical attention.
Make an appointment with your primary care physician for their earliest availability, and let them know that you have just been in a car accident. This appointment, and all subsequent appointments, will be beneficial for your health first and foremost but will have the additional benefit of building a paper trail that will prove each injury you claim in your insurance case. If you are unable to provide substantial proof for your injuries, the insurance company will work aggressively to deny that area of your claim.
Hire an Attorney Immediately
The sooner you are working with a lawyer, the sooner you can put your anxieties to rest and know that you can simply focus on your own needs without worrying about your legal journey. Filing an insurance claim on your own is simple, which is how the insurance companies designed it to encourage people not to hire lawyers; unfortunately, when you are filing on your own the insurance agent assigned to your case will be taking every possible liberty to hold your own words against you and ultimately reduce the degree of liability that their own client assumes. When a lawyer is interfacing with the insurance company, they can avoid making these common errors.
The majority of the time that your claim is open with the insurance company is the investigation, where the adjuster researches the financial impacts of your accident before returning to you with a one-time settlement offer. However, this offer is far less than what you actually deserve, and it is typically at this point when someone decides to hire an attorney. At this point, though, the insurance company has a month headstart that your lawyer will need to catch up to, and hope that there is no serious damage done to your case. Hiring an attorney right off the bat means that you can avoid all of the hassles of the claims investigation, and remain confident that they are taking all of the right steps to make sure that your settlement is maximized.
Continue Followup Care
If you have injuries that were treated in the early days after your accident, it is absolutely essential that you continue to get follow-up care to make sure that you are doing all that it takes to make a full recovery, AND that you are continuing to gather documentation and evidence that can indicate the severity of your injuries. If you are going to be suffering a long-term effect of these injuries, even a dull ache or pain, it is important that there are included in your damages. You do not deserve to take on ANY of the financial burdens of someone else’s misconduct, and when your attorney is able to provide evidence of the ongoing impacts of your accident, seeking the appropriate compensation is simpler.
As you work with your car accident attorney throughout your recovery, they will be able to give you advice for each step of the way to make sure that you are maximizing the strength of your case. Your attorney will be invaluable in settling this complicated and painful period of your life while making sure that you have the resources to move forward without being financially burdened by the other driver’s dangerous behavior.