Police respond to over 6 million car accidents every year, resulting in nearly as many insurance claims. Insurance companies report average yearly claim values of $15,000 for personal injury, but the at-fault driver’s insurance company does not pay victims automatically. It’s up to you to prove the value of your claim. You deserve fair compensation for your medical costs and pain and suffering, so it is incredibly important that you know what to do following an accident.
The following are the steps to follow if you are involved in a car accident:
Stop. Never drive away from the scene of an accident, no matter how minor it may be.
Call the police. Even if it is a minor accident, it is always a good idea to call the police. You may have to file a police report to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. Unless the vehicles are potentially going to interfere with traffic, they should remain where they are.
Create an accurate record. When the police arrive, make sure that you tell the investigating officer exactly what happened to the best of your ability. You should also make sure that statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate. If you have a camera in your vehicle or a cell phone, take pictures of the vehicles if there is visible damage. Additionally, take pictures of yourself if you have visible injuries. If you cannot take pictures immediately following the accident, take them as soon as possible following the accident.
Seek medical attention for your injuries. In many cases, injuries caused by auto accidents are not immediately apparent. Even in accidents with minor impact, you can sustain a serious of permanent injury to your spinal cord. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for a period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. Unless you are absolutely certain that you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician.
Notify your insurance company. You should notify your insurance company as soon as possible following an accident. Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage, what is known as “Med Pay.”
Keep a file of the record. Keep all of your accident-related documents and information together. This should involve a claim number, claim’s adjuster who is handling the insurance claim’s name and contact, and all expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Contact an experience personal injury attorney. The most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult an attorney. Your attorney will make sure that you are fully compensated for injuries and that you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.