If you've been injured in a car accident, you have the right to pursue compensation for the damages you've been forced to suffer. However, it is not always easy to seek the full and fair amount of financial support that you deserve. At Andritch & Aed, our Fresno personal injury lawyers want to give you the best chance at restitution. We have the following tips regarding what you should do in the aftermath of an accident:
1. Do not leave the scene
The worst thing that you can do after a car accident is leave the scene. Not only does this place the assumption of fault in your hands, but it is also a serious criminal offense. Leaving the scene of a car accident can result in heavy penalties.
2. Make sure everyone is okay and seek immediate medical attention for any injuries
Checking on all drivers and passengers involved should be the first thing that you do. If anyone is hurt, call for medical attention immediately. If the injury is severe and involves neck or back pain, do not move the victim, but wait for medical personnel to arrive. It is important to note that some injuries may not be immediately apparent, so it is essential that you seek medical attention as soon as you start to feel any discomfort.
3. Contact the police
When a car accident results in serious damage to property or physical injuries, the police must be alerted. Additionally, you can request police reports to be written up in situations where disputes over fault arises. The police report will provide significant and trusted evidence from a third party with authority.
4. Collect contact information
Exchange information with any other drivers involved including their names, phone numbers and insurance information. Also collect addresses, driver's license numbers, and license plate numbers. Without this information, it may be difficult to pursue action through your own insurance company or through a personal injury claim. It is crucial when talking to the other driver after an accident that you say nothing that might be considered admitting liability. Don't apologize for anything.
5. Take pictures
Documenting the damage that was caused helps your insurance provider determine the value of compensation that you should receive. It can also help in the analysis and investigation of liability, especially if the other party's version of the incident is not consistent.
6. Report accident to insurance company
Immediately after the accident, you should contact your insurance company. Be honest and detailed and describe exactly what happened and the extent of your injuries. If applicable, review any medical records and police reports with your provider.
7. Document all medical treatment
Collect all records and bills from any medical provider from whom you sought attention after the accident, including doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists. Additionally, document the ways in which your injuries have affected your ability to function and enjoy life. For example, note all workdays, special events, and routine activities you were forced to miss.
8. Get accurate estimates
Your insurance adjuster will provide you with an estimate of the damages you obtained. However, these may not be accurate. It is important to get additional, independent estimates from trusted sources to compare and contrast. If there are any disputes, discuss the matter with an attorney.
9. Exercise caution when discussing the matter
This tip comes in three parts: the first is that you should not talk to anyone but the police, your own insurance company, and your attorney about the accident. Second, when speaking to these entities, keep your story consistent and honest. Lastly, when you are approached by another company, be courteous and direct them to speak with your lawyer or provider.
10. Don't be quick to accept settlements
If liability clearly belongs to the other party, their insurance provider will likely attempt to offer you a settlement. However, it is important that you don't immediately accept any offer you are given. Keep in mind that their business is to protect their own insured and may not offer the value that you truly deserve. Speak to a legal professional before accepting offers.
11. Hire an attorney
Your best chance at recovering compensation for a car accident involves hiring an aggressive and effective legal advocate who knows the laws, your rights, and how to fight for them.