The actions you take following a motor vehicle accident can greatly improve – or hinder – your chances of a successful outcome. Some points to keep in mind are:
Seek immediate medical attention: Not only is this important for personal health reasons, your doctor’s medical report can serve as valuable evidence in your personal injury claim.
Take pictures and gather insurance information: If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and write down the other driver’s insurance information. Photos can prove crucial in determining the cause and extent of the accident.
Report observations about the other driver to the police: Were you hit by a distracted driver? Was the other car swerving? Was the other driver using a cell phone? Any observations you can report to the police may help you in obtaining a successful outcome. In addition, filing a police report will help you in negotiating your settlement, and in keeping the details of your story straight as you have to retell it along the road.
Get witness contacts: You may need help to back up your case, and that means witnesses. Make sure you try to get the name and contact information of any witnesses who might have seen what happened.
Call your insurance company: Make sure you call your insurance company to report the accident within 24 hours. When you do, stick to the facts and keep it simple. Don’t try to embellish the story or make yourself seem innocent. Just state what happened in a clear and concise way.
Talk to an attorney: Too many people make the mistake of accepting the settlement offer from an insurance company. This offer may be far less than what you deserve. A lawyer can help maximize the compensation you receive.
What You Shouldn’t Do after an Accident
There are a number of critical mistakes that too many people make after they have an accident. Making these errors can complicate your case and make it much harder to get the compensation you deserve. The first, of these mistakes is apologizing at the scene. No matter how badly you feel about what has happened, never say, “I’m sorry.” The reason for this is that the insurance company will be looking for reasons to get out of paying your case, and you might be surprised at how often they have adjusters at the scene before the police even arrive.
The next thing you shouldn’t ever do is sign or agree to anything without discussing it with your attorney first. Insurance companies, again, will try anything to settle your case for an insultingly low cost and if they convince you to sign, you may be signing away your rights to future compensation.
Neither of these errors are necessarily insurmountable, but both can seriously complicate your case, so always exercise care.