First Steps to Take After an Automobile Accident
According to the National Safety Council, there are approximately 10 million automobile accidents each year. Estimates also suggest that each individual driver will be involved in anywhere from two to three accidents during his or her driving lifetime. So, what do you do when it happens to you?
One of the most important steps to take after an accident is to calm yourself down. Understandably, you are shaken up; automobile accidents are scary. However, getting stressed or upset on top of the adrenaline rush of the accident can further exacerbate any injuries you might have. Stress can also cloud your judgement, which can cause you to miss crucial steps after an accident. This can lead to a denial of your claim, long-term health complications, or other negative consequences. So, it is important to take a few deep breaths and remember to stay as calm as possible.
At the Scene of the Accident
Immediately after an accident, collect phone numbers, insurance information, names, and any other pertinent information on other drivers and witnesses at the scene. Photos may also be helpful in helping determine fault, the extent of injuries, or the extent of damage to your vehicle. You should also file a police report with your personal account of the accident. It is preferable if you do this immediately at the scene of the accident; however, if you fear you will forget before the report can be filed, write it down and store your notes somewhere you can find them later.
In the Hours After the Accident
Adrenaline can cover symptoms of injuries after an accident—including potentially life threatening ones. Because of this, you should visit a doctor or emergency room immediately after leaving the scene of an accident so that you can be thoroughly examined. If police were not able to arrive on scene, the hours after the accident are a good time to file your police report. You should also contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident.
Days, Weeks, or Months After the Accident
If injured and under the care of a doctor, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. First, so that your legal rights can be explained to you, and so you can be advised of what you should and should not do. Secondly, there is evidence that is time sensitive. For example, tape recordings of 911 calls and surveillance cameras from intersections are only kept for a limited period of time and will be lost forever if not retrieved within that time. There may be witnesses listed on the accident report. If they have not given a statement to the policy, the lawyer will contact them and get a recorded statement. A lawyer can advise you whether or not it may be necessary to retrieve the “black box” from your vehicle or the at fault vehicle. This should be done before the vehicles are destroyed. You will also be advised as to how medical bills should be paid, whether or not they should be submitted to health insurance or using the medical pay provisions on your own auto policy. The at fault insurance company is not going to pay medical bills at that point in time.
Avoid the Common Mistakes
Knowing what not to do after an accident is just as important as knowing what to do. In fact, some missteps can cause you to lose your claim and could result in unpaid expenses. The following outline the most common mistakes made by individuals involved in an accident:
- Accepting blame or fault;
- Giving a recorded statement to the at fault insurance company
- Settling with the insurance company before completing your medical treatment;
- Signing employment authorizations for the at fault insurance company
- Signing release forms or checks from the insurance company;
- Talking to people about the case (including your own insurance company)
- Posting information on social media about the accident; and
- Caving in to pressure over not filing a police report.
Why Hire a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney?
Insurance companies—even your own—will try to save money. They will dismiss your claim, or they will try to get you to settle early, before all of your expenses have been accounted. They may even haggle with you on which expenses they will or will not cover. What they will not do is tell you the truth: you deserve fair compensation for of your injuries, expenses, and damage to your vehicle.
Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. can help you navigate the claims process. Dedicated to protecting your rights and best interest, they serve as a liaison between you and the insurance companies so that you can focus on recovery. And, with more nationally board certified attorneys in northeastern Wisconsin than any other law firm, you can rest assured that your case is being handled by a skilled and experienced Appleton automobile accident attorney or Green bay automobile accident attorney. Schedule your free initial consultation by calling 920-739-7366 today.