Law enforcement personnel respond to more than six million auto accidents per year. The large number of car crashes results in about the same number of insurance claims. If a driver is found at fault for a car accident, the driver’s insurance company usually takes care of the victim’s expenses.
The key word is “usually.”
Submitting auto insurance claims require victims of car crashes to follow a series of steps. The first step involves calling 911.
It should be as automatic as Pavlov’s dog responding to a dinner bell. The first thing to do after suffering an injury or injuries that was caused by a car accident is to call 911 immediately. By calling 911, you set the wheels in motion for first responders and law enforcement agencies to come to the scene of the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
Some victims of car crashes refuse medical attention. Why would anyone want to do that? By refusing medical attention, you are basically saying you did not receive any injuries that caused you pain and suffering. This is a common sense tip that is worth repeating.
Accept all offers of medical attention, especially the recommendation of a first responder to transport you to the nearest hospital.
Obtain Personal Information from Other Drivers
You will not be able to do this yourself, if you are taken to the nearest medical facility for treatment. However, you will have the personal information of the other driver(s) because law enforcement officials will obtain the information during interviews. Should you need it, your personal injury lawyer can acquire the other driver’s information from law enforcement agencies.
Document Eyewitness Accounts of the Accident
Once again, law enforcement agencies interview everyone that witnessed what took place before, during, and after a car accident. Your personal injury attorney will either interview the same witnesses or ask the appropriate law enforcement officials for copies of the witness interviews.
Let Your Insurance Company Know
This step is listed fifth on our list, but it is better to label the step “as soon as you can.” The quicker you explain the auto accident to your insurance company, the quicker your claim gets resolved. Make sure to explain the facts of the accident clearly, as well as send your insurance company a copy of the police report that describes the incident.
Maintain Accurate Medical Records
In the event that you need to hire a lawyer, keep in mind, that although a successful, experienced personal injury lawyer can help you seek relief, you need to keep accurate records of everything that has to do with your medical treatment. This includes listing information for every physician, chiropractor, physical therapist, and any other medical professional you visit. You have to provide detailed information about the medical diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of every injury you suffered in a car accident. Make copies of your medical records and give one set of the records to your personal injury attorney.
A Picture Tells a Thousand Words
All of the medical documents you meticulously maintained will mean nothing, unless you accompany the written account of your injuries with well-taken photographs. Take photographs of your injuries, as well as to all the damage inflicted to your vehicle. Photographs are not only important for submitting an insurance claim, pictures are also important for receiving just compensation for the pain and suffering caused by your auto accident injuries. Before and after photos of your car are especially relevant evidence of the damage caused by an auto accident.
Independently Performed Damage Assessments
Your auto insurance company will perform a damage valuation of your vehicle. However, you might not be satisfied with the value associated with the damage. Request two damage assessments from two qualified and independently operated auto repair businesses. If you are still not satisfied with the damage valuation of your car, consider taking your case to a mediator.
Be Wary of Discussing the Accident
Outside of the police, your personal injury lawyer, and your car insurance company, you should avoid discussing the auto accident with anyone else. Never discuss the car accident with a representative of the other driver’s insurance company. If another insurance company contacts you, politely ask the company to reach out to your lawyer.
Critically Evaluate an Early Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company
If you have ever heard of the term “low ball,” you know the term is not a flattering one. Insurance companies that represent at fault drivers like to propose early offers that are valued much lower than what the victims of a car crash deserve. As we mentioned before, direct the insurance company representing another driver to speak with your attorney.
Know and Protect Your Rights
As the most important thing to do after suffering an injury caused by a car accident, contacting a personal injury attorney ensures you follow every step on this list properly and in the right order. If you try to file a legal and/or insurance claim on your own, you will face many obstacles that can prevent you from getting what you deserve in the form of just compensation.