Many clients come to our firm after being seriously injured as a result of another driver’s carelessness. Usually these clients are hurt, have lost use of their vehicle, lost time at work and now the at-fault driver’s insurance company is stubbornly refusing to fairly compensate them. Our firm will attempt negotiating with the insurance company on our client’s behalf. If negotiation fails, we will file a suit against the other driver. Settlement and trials are generally successful if the accident is well documented. Learn what to do if you are ever in an accident in order to save time and expenses later.
Assess injuries – Make sure everyone is okay. If someone is injured, call 9-1-1 to request medical treatment. If there is any question as to whether the person in hurt, it is important to have a professional medical assessment.
Call the police even if it is a small accident with little or no property damage. It is important to have a police report. If the accident is on private property, the police will sometimes write up a private property incident report. This document may be extremely important later.
Take photos of the scene, the car, and any visible injuries. If you eventually file an insurance claim from the accident, it is important to have this documentation. In time, the vehicles will likely be repaired or totaled, any injuries will heal, and the scene may change. It is important to get a true “snapshot” of everything at the time of the accident.
Get witnesses’ information – If there is a witness to the accident or someone comes to the scene, remember to get their name and contact information. Do not rely on the police to get this information as they often miss witnesses or the witnesses leave as soon as they realize the police have arrived.
Seek immediate medical treatment – If you are not transported to the hospital at the accident scene, you still need to seek immediate medical treatment if you feel you may have been injured. This is important for two reasons: (1) To insure you are getting the proper care and (2) Insurers will often see a delay in the treatment as an excuse not to pay an insurance claim.
Contact your insurer – Immediately following the accident, make sure to contact your insurer. If you fail to notify your insurer, there are certain instances where they can deny coverage of your claim.
Contact the at-fault driver’s insurer – If another driver caused the accident, be sure to contact their insurance company. If their insurance company is not notified, the company may be able to deny coverage to the party that caused the accident. This could potentially limit your future financial recovery for property damage or medical treatment.
Document time missed at your job – Lost wages are an important element of damages in an auto accident claim. Be sure to document any missed time or income from work and be able to show that the time missed was due to the accident.
Contact an attorney – While you ultimately may not hire an attorney to represent you, you should speak with an attorney to make sure that you understand your rights. Insurers often try to deny a claim or try to settle a claim for the absolute minimum amount possible. You may need an attorney to negotiate on your behalf. In addition, there are often other issues that arise following an accident, including problems with your health insurance or subrogation (reimbursement of your health insurance payments from any accident settlement proceeds). An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in resolving all of these problems.
Read the complete July 2012 Newsletter from Spooner & Associates, PC
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