Hopefully you will never need to follow this advice, but sometimes accidents happen. And when it’s the other person’s fault due to negligent behavior, sometimes civil action is required to protect yourself.
Whether its property damage or injuries, you should never be stuck with the bill from an uninsured driver.
After the Accident
Stay calm. Turn on your hazard lights and maneuver the vehicle off the roadway if you are able to do so. The other driver should do the same. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately and request an ambulance.
Most states require you to notify the police in the case of an accident. If you’ve already called 911, that step is taken care of. Even if no one is injured and the damage is minor, it’s still a good idea to involve the police.
Sometimes bystanders will witness the accident and check on the parties involved. Ask them to stay and give a statement to the police. Witness testimony is crucial in some court cases.
Exchange information with the other driver, but NEVER admit fault to anyone. Not the other driver, not the witnesses, and not the police. Sometimes drivers will try to deflect blame and accuse you of making a mistake that caused the accident. Do not apologize or validate their claims in any way.
Insurance and Medical Records
If you are injured by an at-fault driver, you may receive medical forms from their insurance company for you to sign. This is not a requirement and doing so may lead to a reduced settlement. It’s best not to let the at-fault driver’s insurance company have unfettered access to your medical records.
Your own insurance company will also send medical forms. These must be signed in order for you to get your settlement.
But read the small print – you have an option to allow only limited access to your medical records, keeping any records prior to the accident private.
Why Get a Lawyer?
The truth is that the lawyers of the at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to take advantage of you. That’s their job. So, hiring an experienced accident attorney can prevent them from using underhanded tactics to reduce the settlement outcome.
Do not attempt to represent yourself. Hire a good lawyer and let them do their job.
Property Damage Valuation
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that property damage ends with the repairs on your vehicle. You should also be compensated for lost work time and alternate travel arrangements.
The court must consider the damage done to the person, not just the property. So if, for instance, you need counseling after a particularly traumatic accident, this should be included.
Your goal will be to get the money that you’re entitled to. And the claim adjustor for the at-fault driver’s insurance company has the goal of not giving that to you.
These people will take advantage of you and will do whatever they can to reduce the amount of money you’ll get in your settlement. Let your lawyer handle these people and protect you.