Your head is spinning. You might feel aches and pains. You’re trying to put together what just happened. You’re scared.
You’ve just been in a car crash.
While it’s something we all fear and try to avoid, the reality is that most of us, at one time or another, will be in some sort of auto accident during our lifetime. And though a large percentage of those accidents are minor fender-benders, there are hundreds of extremely serious accidents every day on America’s highways and city roads.The Lamber-Goodnow injury law team works with hundreds of such people each year.
Just as you need to know the rules of the road when you’re driving your car, you also need to know the rules about what happens after you’ve been in an accident. By following these tips, you’ll make sure that you get the care you need and that you’re not taken advantage of by insurance companies.
Rule 1: Take Care of Yourself
If you’re in pain or if you think you might be injured, get medical attention immediately. Your health is the most important thing, so don’t let something like a work or social appointment take precedence. If you’ve been injured, find a doctor as soon as possible.
Rule 2: Use Your Mobile Device
Years ago it could be hard to document the scene of an accident, but that’s not the case today. Your mobile device has a variety of tools to help you secure the info you might need later on.
Using your phone or tablet, you should:
- Take photos of your car and any other vehicle involved
- Take photos of license plates and/or VIN identification for those cars as well
- Take video statements from witnesses describing what happened
- Get the names of any witnesses, as well as their contact information
- Exchange insurance information with the other party or parties
Rule 3: Always Cooperate with the Police
If first responders show up at the scene, you should always cooperate. Answer their questions truthfully. If you don’t know or remember something, say so. There’s no need to invent facts, particularly if you’re confused. You’ve just been in an accident. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know.”
Rule 4: Don’t Admit Fault
A lot of us have a tendency to apologize when we have no reason for being sorry. While that’s a nice and polite thing to do if you bump someone in line at a movie theater, it’s not the case in a car accident. If you admit fault — even casually — you’re potentially damaging your insurance claim or any potential case you might have.
Rule 5: Be Skeptical
Insurance companies are often quick to respond when someone gets hit in a car accident. The reason is that people are most likely to agree to a settlement quickly — they want to move on with their lives, or just get their car fixed.
That’s what the insurance company wants, but it’s not necessarily the best thing for you.
You should never sign or agree to any version of events that the other person’s insurance company presents you. There could be extenuating circumstances related to your crash — perhaps the other driver was texting before the crash and is liable for your injuries. You might have suffered injuries that have not yet presented themselves to you. And you might be agreeing to a scenario that’s not true.
While you should always cooperate, you don’t have to agree to a settlement or sign a statement just to be cooperative.
If you’ve been hurt, or if their insurance company is pressuring you to agree to a settlement or claim, you need to talk to an attorney. The fact is that their insurance company doesn’t have your best interests in mind — they’re protecting their interests, not you. Make sure you have a trusted ally on your side who knows not just the law, but also how to negotiate with insurance companies to your benefit.
Being in an accident is no fun. But agreeing to a settlement that leaves you vulnerable can be even worse. Make sure you have the representation you need.