Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident on your own can be extremely difficult, especially is you were injured in the accident. The large expense of medical bills or perhaps even having to miss work due to an injury, starts to turn in to a real financial burden. Not to mention repairing the damage that has been done to the vehicle, if it is even repairable. If you find yourself in a similar situation you may be asking yourself; What do I do to make sure that my family and I are protected in this difficult time? The answer to this question may be filing a car accident lawsuit.
8 Steps to Take If You Were Just in a Car Accident
As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to be prepared for an accident before embarking on the road. It is also strongly recommend to have a complete emergency kit in case of accidents, but even something as simple as a first aid kit can make a difference. It’s also a good idea to have a pen, paper and way to document an accident should it occur. Many drivers use their phones in this situation, but it’s also good to have other ways to document information and accident details.
(1) Do your best to stay calm.
Above all, it’s recommended you stay as collected as possible after an accident. This may not be possible, considering the emotional impact of the situation, and the potential for serious injury. But by staying in control, you’ll be able to better handle the stress and frustration involved in reviewing the accident.
(2) Assess potential injuries.
During an adrenaline rush, it’s difficult to determine if you’re injured, but you can still check for obvious signs of impairment. If possible, check on the other driver as well. As soon as you’re able to, call the police. In some cases, where there are no major injuries, it might take a while for police to arrive, but in the end, it’ll offer you the best documentation of the accident.
(3) Move out of traffic, if possible.
After a minor accident, your car may operate enough to move to the side of the road. If you’re on a highway, you may be able to reach the next exit to get away from potential roadside dangers. Keep your hazard lights on at all times.
(4) Contact your insurance company.
Getting in touch with your insurance company will help make the aftermath of the accident easier to deal with – the sooner they can review the accident, the sooner they can finalize what needs to be done on their end. Your insurance company will also be able to give you additional instructions on what to do during the accident, and make it easier to collect all the pertinent information you need from the other driver.
(5) Document the accident.
Taking photos, notes and generally recalling the accident as soon as possible will help your insurance company make more sense of the situation. Often, drivers forget key details of an accident simply because there was too much stress at the time. Regardless of who was at fault, documenting the accident, your vehicle and your injuries will help preserve the facts that you may need in the near future.
(6) Exchange information with the other driver.
Generally, you’ll want to get as much relevant information as possible from the other party. This includes:
- Name, address and phone number
- The driver’s insurance company and policy number
- Make, model and year of the driver’s car
- License plate number
- Email address, if possible
Insurance companies need all this information – and more – to process an accident claim, and although they will be in touch with the other driver’s insurance carrier, getting this information from the start can expedite the process.
(7) Get contact information from witnesses.
If there are witnesses on the scene, getting their contact information can help if there are disputes about the accident’s details. This is helpful for drivers who believe they weren’t at fault, but again, it can be helpful in case of disputes from either party.
(8) Only leave the scene once everything’s been documented.
After the police have arrived, your insurer is notified and you’ve collected all the necessary information should you consider leaving the scene.
What Happens Next?
After the initial car accident, generally speaking, the very first thing that happens is that you will receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company. While this is a standard procedure, the information that is disclosed in this phone call is extremely important. Something to keep in mind about the insurance representative is even though they may sound genuine, they do not have your best interests in mind. Insurance representatives often times have the ability to come off like they are trying to help you, but the truth is that they are trying to be responsible for the least amount of the damages as possible. This is why we strongly recommend that you speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
While a car accident attorney can help you if you are considering filing a claim, they can also provide resources for proper medical attention and assist you in conversing with the other driver’s insurance company. Car insurance companies will call and ask people all sorts of questions that they may be unprepared for. These sorts of questions can not only throw people off guard, but are specifically designed to protect the insurance company. A car accident lawyer will assure that you only disclose the information that you are required to disclose and make sure that you are specific and prepared with your responses. This ensures that you will receive the maximum amount for the damages that you have suffered. It also ensures that you do not disclose information that can be used against you in a court of law, if you do decide to file a lawsuit.
How to Pick the Best Car Accident Attorney
For better or worse, car accident attorneys are everywhere. You may see their signs all over town and hear their catchy jingles on the radio, but just because they are paying for these advertisements does not mean they’re the best attorney available to you. The following tips are a good guideline in determining which attorney will best represent you and get the results you deserve based on your specific needs and legal situation.
Do your Homework
Car accident attorneys are abundant. You have to be willing to put in the time and energy to find the best attorney for your case. Picking the most popular or cheapest attorney will not guarantee you success in your case.
What to do: Meet or talk with multiple attorneys to have the opportunity to ask them about the details of your case, their approach to similar cases and a brief overview of their results and history.
Attorney vs No Attorney
Weighing the benefits of an attorney against filing a claim yourself will be an important consideration, but generally an easy decision. Making a claim on your own can be done, but at a cost. Time, money and potentially more money, if your case is complicated or your claim is denied. Having an attorney on your side will alleviate the stresses of dealing with insurance companies, lawyers, and medical facilities. It will also put someone in your corner that has years of practice and experience with similar cases, who can navigate the system easily.
What to do: Although you may want to avoid paying an attorney, their benefits generally outweigh any fees associated with their services – consider the long-term gain of working with an attorney rather than the short-term upfront costs (if any).
Know the Attorney’s Record and Results
How many personal injury suits have they tried and won? A tried and true track record is the key to picking the best attorney. A young, flashy attorney with little experience may have the cheapest rate, but the odds are then lower that you will win the money you deserve. Understanding their past successes will help you gage how your case will go.
What to do: Ask for a specific look at past cases, including settlement amounts and the severity/general area of the case. This will give you an idea of how successful the particular attorney is with your type of case.
Make the Attorney Win You Over
Keep in mind that most attorneys want your business. Although you are coming to them needing help, you hold the power because they want to make money as well. If you don’t feel comfortable with the attorney and how they will handle your case, walk away. You are under no obligation to hire an attorney if you do a consultation with them.
What to do: Treat each consult with an attorney as an interview: get to know them and make sure you’re comfortable with someone before moving forward. Injury cases can often take a long time to settle, so you’ll be working with your attorney for a while.
Understand the Fee Structure
Car accident attorneys have the ability to create their own fee structure on a case by case basis. In meeting with your potential attorneys, discuss the fee structure that would be used in your case. The attorney will choose hourly, contingency, or a mixture of both is common. Understand that if they are working on contingency, then they will not get paid unless they win you money in the settlement. This means that there is no cost to you if they can’t get any money for you in the end. This will incentivize the attorney to focus on your case and ensure they receive a good outcome.
Call Personal Injury Attorney Jared Everton at (480) 467-4392 to discuss your case today.
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