A traffic accident can be scary if you are experiencing it for the first time. If you are the one at fault, your first instinct would probably be to flee from the scene. If you are the victim, you would probably fall into a panic. The first measures you take after a car accident will determine the ruling on the case. The following are some of the basic considerations you need to factor if you are injured in a traffic accident.
Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident
If you hit a pedestrian or a vehicle, you should not flee from the scene. Leaving the scene is equivalent to admitting guilt. In cases where a person has been injured or is killed, you could face criminal charges as a hit and run driver. Instead of leaving the scene, you should get medical attention for the person who has been injured. You should also call the police and record a statement about what happened.
In cases where there is significant property damage or personal injuries, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible to help with your damage claim. The first step would be to exchange information with the at fault driver. Be sure to note the name, address, and car registration number of the driver. If there are passengers involved, make sure you also acquire their personal information.
The next step in gathering evidence is speaking to witnesses. Ensure you get the names, and addresses of any witnesses to the accident. Witnesses can play a huge part in your damage award especially if they confirm your account of the accident.
When gathering evidence, you should take note of all the details of the accident. Write down the time, the place, and how the accident occurred. Take pictures of the scene of the accident, and your injuries. Photographic information is one of the most compelling pieces of evidence in a personal injury claim. Also ensure you keep medical records and receipts of repairs safely as evidence when quoting damages.
Inform the Insurance Company
Make sure you inform your insurance company about the accident. Give the insurance company a comprehensive account of the accident ensuring you do not falsify any evidence. Insurance providers engage in a thorough investigation before granting any claims. In most cases, when you delay in informing your insurance provider about an accident, they are likely to argue that your claims are fabricated and that your property damage or injuries arose from some other incidence and not from a traffic accident.
The popular phrase, “anything you say can be used against you”, also applies in traffic accidents. If you are involved in a vehicular accident, and you probably think it is your fault, you may be inclined to admit fault. However, accepting liability can jeopardize your chances of compensation and even subject you to serious penalties. It is advisable to give a true account of the accident with supporting evidence, or record a brief police statement and leave the authorities to determine liability. In many cases, having an attorney present when recording a police statement or describing the events leading to an accident is a precaution measure against self-incrimination.
Do not Settle Prematurely
Insurance adjusters are notorious for luring victims of traffic accidents to settle for a less amount than what they deserve. One rule of thumb is to never settle before completing medical treatment or before the extent of your injuries have been fully determined. Settling prematurely denies you of any future claims you may raise with regards to the accident. For example, if you sustain a leg injury, it may at first look minor but gradually turn out to be serious requiring amputation. If you settled before your injury got worse, you may lose the right to seek damages for the costs and life changes associated with living with an amputated leg.
You should also be careful not to sign checks or forms for a settlement before consulting your attorney. Most of these forms are drafted with tricky provisions that are legally binding if you append your signature. Ensure your lawyer interprets all the provisions of a settlement agreement before giving your consent.
Consult an Attorney
As you might have concluded from the information above, one of the first things you should do after an accident is to summon your lawyer. In most cases, law enforcement agencies may compel you to divulge information regarding the accident without recording a statement. Furthermore, if you are at fault, admitting to the police may rob you of any chance you have of getting a fair trial. If you have sustained injuries or property damage, your lawyer will ensure you take the necessary legal steps in accordance with the statute of limitations of your area. Your lawyer can be crucial in gathering evidence to bring the at-fault party to justice. In addition, insurance adjusters are more reasonable in their settlement awards when a claimant has legal representation since there is no room for them to corner the unsuspecting victim.