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What To Do After A Car Crash
One minute, everything is fine, and then all of a sudden, the worst has happened. You’ve been in a car crash. What you do next will make all the difference from your medical treatment to the compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and more. Injuries may be severe and emotions high, but it is important to remember that there are a few oh-so-important steps to take immediately following a car crash to ensure your rights are protected.
Car crashes are unexpected, stressful and are bound to happen to every one of us at some point. For this reason, it is essential to prepare for the worst-case scenario.
Tips To Protect Your Rights
After the initial adrenaline rush, take a few deep breaths and grab your Carlson Law Firm Do’s and Don’ts checklist. This shortlist of critical steps that we’ve compiled will guarantee your safety, protect your rights, and ensure you are adequately compensated for your losses.
Click here to download a printable version of our Car Accident Checklist.
The importance of Car Insurance
An auto insurance policy is a contract between an individual (the insured) and an insurance company. A customer pays the insurance company a premium that is set based on a variety of factors.
In 49 out of 50 U.S. states, car insurance is mandatory. And even in the one state that doesn’t require insurance, drivers must prove that they have the financial means to cover damages from a crash. This is because when you are in a crash, and you are at fault, you are financially responsible for any damage that you cause. Conversely, when someone injures you, you deserve compensation for the injuries their negligent acts led to.
Most state laws require that drivers carry car insurance. Generally, the reason is that when property damage or injuries occur, the damages can be costly. Further, most people don’t have the funds to make a person whole. Not everyone follows the law and when they do, many drivers only carry the minimum state standards. Each state has different minimum standards for liability insurance.
What are the different types of auto insurance?
The auto insurance industry often uses tactics to settle claims for as little as possible. And with a qualified auto crash attorney on your side, you can get the fair settlement that you deserve. But while attorneys can fight for your rights, it’s important that you give them the tools they need to do so. There are a few basic components you need to know in order to ensure you are getting the coverage you need.
Liability coverage is the most basic insurance that a person can carry. In addition, it is the coverage that is legally required in most U.S. states. Liability insurance only covers the damages of the other party in an accident that you cause.
Comprehensive insurance proves an extra level of coverage in accidents. It can help pay for damage to your car caused by incidents not related to crashes. For example, comprehensive insurance covers vandalism, certain weather events and accidents with animals.
This type of insurance covers damage to your car after an accident involving another vehicle and can help repair or replace a covered vehicle.
What car insurance add-ons do attorneys recommend?
Understanding the limits of your policy is important when you are filling out paperwork to purchase insurance. Any personal injury attorney worth their salt will tell you that there are optional auto insurance add-ons that are in your best interests to purchase. The most important is UM/UIM insurance.
UM/UIM Insurance is worth the extra cost
Uninsured motorist cover and underinsured motorist coverage are types of optional insurance offered through your auto insurance companies. This insurance is not automatically included in whatever type of insurance you purchase. You must add on UM/UIM insurance to your policy. UM/UIM insurance covers you and your household family members riding in any car. In addition, it covers non-family members riding in your car as well.
Depending on where you live, UIM is part of UM. However, this is not always the case. It is important that you check with your insurance company to make sure you carry both UM and UIM insurance.
What is Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance?
Uninsured motorist coverage covers when a driver without insurance hits you. Further, this coverage can cover you if there is a hit and run.
What is Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance?
An underinsured motorist differs from an uninsured motorist. Underinsured motorists are drivers that carry insurance, but do not have enough to pay for the entirety of your injuries after a crash. For example, if your medical bills and property total $50,000, but the at-fault driver carries the most basic liability insurance coverage of $30,000, then you are vulnerable to needing to cover $20,000 in medical bills and property damage. If you carry UIM insurance, then you can turn to your insurance company to cover the rest of your expenses.
Personal injury protection insurance
Personal injury protection insurance covers certain medical expenses and loss of income resulting from a car crash. Depending on the limits of a policy, personal injury protection could cover as much as 80% of medical and other expenses stemming from a covered accident.
Medical payments coverage
This optional coverage can help pay medical costs related to a covered accident regardless of who is at fault.
After a Car Crash, Consider the Following Steps:
- Stay at the scene
- Ensure your safety
- Call the police
- Gather details
- Talk to witnesses
- Take photos
- Go to your doctor
- Contact a qualified car crash lawyer
Tools to protect yourself during a car accident
Get a dashcam
A dashcam is a camera that is mounted to the dashboard of vehicles and records what the driver sees. If you have a dashcam that was recording at the time of your accident the footage can be very useful.
Dashcam videos may be used in court as evidence to support your personal injury claim. On top of insurance companies working to devalue your claim, we live in a world where people lie to protect themselves. In fact, it is not unheard of for people to go as far as staging as an accident to commit insurance fraud. Cases like these can quickly turn into a game of he-said-she-said.
Dashcams help provide concrete evidence of who was at fault during an accident. Additionally, these devices can help identify the at-fault party in hit and run accidents where there were no witnesses.
Stay at the scene
Never leave the accident scene until it’s appropriate to do so. If you leave, particularly where someone has sustained injuries or was killed, you can face serious criminal penalties for being a hit-and-run driver.
After the accident, immediately determine whether anyone is injured. If so, seek medical attention for those seriously injured by calling 911 to get an ambulance on the scene. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent hours after the actual collision. If the vehicles involved are still operational, get them to the shoulder or off the main road. If you have flares or reflective emergency triangles, set them up to warn other cars. Move yourself and others involved away from the vehicle and to a safe place.
Call the police
Whether an accident is just a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important and in some states, it’s legally required. The responding officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. If the police can’t come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself. Make sure you request a copy of the report for yourself along with the name and badge numbers of responding officers.
If you do not know certain facts, tell that to the officer. Do not speculate, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Note the name, contact and insurance information of all parties involved in the accident. Take a moment to jot down the details of the scene while still fresh in your mind.
Talk to witnesses
Ask everyone what they saw and if they have ever witnessed a similar accident in the same place. Ask for their contact information so that they can be contacted by your attorney later on.
Document the entire crash scene, your and the other driver’s vehicle, plate and insurance card. If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. Take pictures of street signs, skid marks and anything else that may affect your claim.
Go to your doctor
Naturally, if you are severely injured then you will need to seek immediate medical attention. But not all injuries rise to the level of needing to seek help in an emergency room. However, paying a visit to the doctor as soon as you get the chance can identify injuries that have yet to present themselves. Additionally, a doctor can recommend you visit a chiropractor or other specialist should your injuries require it.
Contact an attorney
An experienced personal injury attorney can be extremely helpful in negotiating the often chaotic and confusing world of personal injury claims and settlements. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.
What not to do after a car crash:
- Do not admit fault: Be courteous, but avoid apologizing to the other driver, no matter who is at fault. Stick to the facts when speaking to others.
- Do not post about the crash on social media: Insurance companies have a team of investigators who will look at your social media accounts and dig into your background to find information to deny fault and eventually deny your claim.
- Do not speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance adjusters: Keep in mind that insurance adjusters do not have your best interest in mind. They are trained to settle your claim for the least amount possible, even it means undervaluing your injuries. Anything you say during a phone call with them may be recorded and used against you in the future.
- Do not accept a check: Although you do want to report the car crash to your insurance company, don’t take any form of payment without fully understanding the extent of your losses, injuries, and damages. This may not entirely or fairly compensate you for your damages. Don’t sign any waivers provided to you by your insurance company without seeking the advice of a personal injury attorney first.
Why You Need An Attorney After A Car Crash
Over six million car accidents occur each year in the United States. Fortunately, most of them involve only property damage – damage to the vehicle as opposed to the occupants. But one in three accidents involves personal injury to the driver or passengers and out of that number, two out of every ten accidents lead to fatal injuries. When filing a Personal Injury Claim, one of the first and most important actions to take after a personal injury occurs is to enlist a knowledgeable lawyer who has the tools and resources needed to prove fault and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.
It is important to understand that the effects of some injuries suffered in car crashes have the potential of lasting a lifetime, making it critical that you have someone in your corner protecting your rights. Not only is it possible you may be in pain for an on-going period of time if your injuries require physical therapy, multiple surgeries and so forth, but medical bills may pile up. To avoid the added stress of medical debt, it is essential you speak to a qualified personal injury attorney who is dedicated to protecting your rights.
Not All Injuries Are Apparent Immediately
There are many instances in which an individual does not realize they have been injured in a car crash. Some injuries may take hours or days to become apparent. An example is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The varied signs and symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision and loss of focus associated with this type of injury make it difficult to recognize. An experienced car crash lawyer will ensure you are receiving the proper medical attention for your injuries.
Why Choose The Carlson Law Firm After A Car Crash
After an injury, you may wonder how you will pay for medical bills or recover lost wages? Are you questioning how the legal process works or where to start? These are questions that our Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyers can answer for you.
At a time when you’re vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead. At The Carlson Law Firm, we can provide a level of representation that has been given recognition with awards and accolades that can be used to your advantage. Contact us for a free evaluation. We care, we can help.