First Steps After an Auto Accident Can Impact Your Claim and Right to Compensation
After a car crash that has caused injury, victims expect to receive fair compensation for any injuries or losses they have sustained. Sadly, that is not what usually happens. After all, insurance companies do not make millions by treating victims fairly. Instead, they work hard to find any and every reason they can to deny and reduce the claims of injured motorists. Thankfully, there are some ways that drivers can protect themselves from reduced and denied claims after a crash. Learn more, including how the assistance of an experienced attorney can improve the outcome of your case with help from the following information.
What You Say and Do After an Accident Matters
The moments after a crash can be overwhelming and, in some cases, frightening. You or someone you love may be seriously injured. Plus, the adrenaline of the entire ordeal can leave you feeling as though you were at fault, even if you were not. To complicate matters even more, victims are often stressed about the lifestyle implications of the accident, such as missing time at work or having to replace their vehicle.
All this (and more) can cause you to act in ways that could hurt your claim. As an example, leaving the scene of an accident before a police report has been filed could eliminate your right to pursue compensation after a crash. Not collecting enough information, like photographs of the scene and contact details for witnesses, could cause some of the evidence to be lost, and that can reduce the amount of your settlement. Also, admitting any type of fault after a crash – or even simply offering an apology, even when you were not in the wrong – can give the insurance company exactly what they need to deny or reduce your claim. Avoid these common insurance claim issues, and many others, by:
- Never apologizing or admitting fault after an accident;
- Collecting the contact information of all witnesses (names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses);
- Taking photographs of the accident scene (vehicle damage, tire marks, signage, etc.);
- Providing emergency aid to injured parties (or calling the paramedics, if it is warranted);
- Recording the name and badge number of the law enforcement officer who took the accident report;
- Following up at the emergency room or an appropriate health care provider to ensure each and every injury properly treated and documented.
- Contacting your insurance company to notify them of the accident; and
- Scheduling an appointment with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Know How the Law Impacts Your Claim
The practices of insurance companies are not the only issues affecting your claim; the law can impact it as well. For example, victims are bound by the statute of limitations. Fail to file your claim within that period, and it could render your claim as invalid. If the accident was caused by a governmental entity or one of its agents or employees, a formal “Notice of Claim” must be filed within 120 days of the accident or the claim may be barred. If the accident involved a “hit and run” driver, and there was no physical contact with the at-fault driver (perhaps someone who has run you off the road), you must notify your own insurance company very quickly, and you must meet several other requirements or you may not be able to make a claim for uninsured motorist benefits. These requirements are imposed because of Wisconsin’s Phantom Motor Vehicle law.
Another issue that accident victims need to be aware of is the shared fault law, which requires that you be less than 50 percent at fault for an accident to gain compensation. The burden of proof, which typically falls on the victim of an accident, can also impact the outcome of your claim. An attorney can help you satisfy the requirements to increase your odds of a full and fair settlement.
Contact Our Appleton Car Crash Lawyers
Committed to protecting the best interests of auto accident victims, Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. offers comprehensive and compassionate assistance to increase your chances of a full and fair settlement. Able to handle all the legal aspects of your claim, we will aggressively negotiate the most favorable settlement possible for your case. Call 920-739-7366 and schedule your free and personalized consultation with our Appleton car crash lawyers to learn more.