What Should You do After An Accident You Were Involved With
After An Accident
1. MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS OK.
2. CALL THE POLICE:
Call 911. This way you can be sure that everyone is properly treated for their collision related injures. Also, request that a police report is issued. During this process the police officer will investigate the scene of the accident, identify the other vehicle’s owner and operator, take witness information and statements and do a reconstruction, if necessary. Once all of this information is gathered, police officer will generally prepare a document called a “police accident report,” which you or your attorney can obtain for a nominal fee. The report is generally available within 2 or 3 days.
3. COMMUNICATE YOUR VERSION OF THE ACCIDENT:
During an auto accident claim, the police report is often the most crucial document. Therefore, it is extremely important that your version of the accident is communicated to the police officer. This way your side of the story will be written into the police report. When witnesses are present who agree with your version of the accident, make sure that the police officer include the name and number of these witnesses in the report. You should also note the name and numbers of these witnesses as well.
4. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TALK TO:
Do not talk to an insurance adjuster before you contact an attorney. Insurance companies often have adjusters contact individuals who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents that were caused by the negligence of their insureds. Before you have retained an attorney, an adjuster may request that you provide a statement (usually recorded) detailing your account of the accident and/or your injuries. You have no obligation to provided such statements to the other party’s insurance company and such statements can be used against you at a later time during the claim process.
5. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SIGN:
Before you have hired an attorney, Insurance companies will sometimes ask you to sign a form called a “general release” in connection with a motor vehicle accident. Signing a general release can have the effect of releasing the other party and their insurance company from any and all claims which you may have relating to the accident, whether personal injury and/or property damage. Have an attorney review a general release before signing.
6. TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS:
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should always take photographs depicting the damage to your vehicle before it is repaired. If later you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, you will have preserved key evidence for your attorney.
7. THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS:
An injured party generally has two years from the date of a motor vehicle accident to commence a lawsuit. However, it is important to note that numerous exceptions to this general rule do exist. Exceptions to the general statute of limitations do exist, and as such, it is advisable that you contact an attorney in order to ensure the timely filing of your case. The failure to make these filings timely can bar you from ever bringing a claim.
8. PROPERTY DAMAGE:
You often have two choices if you have suffered property damage in an automobile accident. If you have “collision” coverage on your policy, you can file a claim with your insurance carrier, have them estimate the cost of the repairs and pay for those repairs minus any deductible you might have.
The other option if you don’t have collision coverage is to contact the other vehicle’s insurance carrier or have an attorney contact them on your behalf. In that instance, the other insurance carrier will have the repair cost estimated and will make a determination as to the percentage of fault of their insured in causing the accident. The offer amount will depend upon their findings as to value and fault. If an accident was clearly the other party’s fault, going through the other party’s insurance carrier will avoid you having to pay, at least initially, a deductible.
9. UNINSURED/UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE:
This portion of a policy is intended to compensate the policy holder if they are involved in an accident with someone who does not have insurance. While the liability coverage portion of your policy will pay money to another person who has been injured due to your negligence, uninsured and underinsured coverage protects you in cases where you have been injured. Uninsured coverage will apply in situations in which you were involved in an accident with an unidentified vehicle or uninsured vehicle and will provide coverage up to the limits that you carry on the uninsured motorist portion of your policy. Underinsured coverage applies in situations where the offending vehicle has liability insurance coverage, but has policy limits that are insufficient to compensate you appropriately for your injuries and which are less than the underinsured limits on your policy. In this situation, you can make a claim against your own insurance company after receiving an offer of the full policy limit from the offending vehicle for the difference. There are strict time limits involved in such a claim, and as such, it is strongly recommended that you contact an attorney in order that you may be fully advised of your rights.
10. HIRE AN EXPERIENCED TRIAL ATTORNEY
Our firm is a nationally recognized firm dedicated to representing injured individuals. Our vast experience in handling personal injury claims allows our clients to concentrate on that which is most important – their recovery.