Regardless of the severity of the crash, being involved in an automobile accident can be an unsettling and overwhelming ordeal.
Whether the accident was your fault or somebody else’s, there are some immediate steps to follow:
- Get to safety. If it’s safely drivable and you are able, pull your car to the side of the road, out of traffic. Even when parked on the side of the road, stay alert of oncoming traffic, especially if you need to exit your vehicle.
- Check yourself for injuries. If you’ve been injured call — or have somebody else call — 911.
- Check on others. Check on everybody involved: your passengers, other drivers, other passengers, pedestrians, etc. If there are injuries, call 911.
- Call the police. Let the police evaluate the scene and determine who is at fault. Avoid blaming others or admitting fault. The police report can be helpful when dealing with insurance companies.
- Record the scene. Put your smartphone to work taking pictures of the accident scene including photos of damages.
- Gather information. Key information includes:
- License plate numbers
- Driver and passenger names
- Insurance info
- Vehicle makes and models
- Eyewitness contact information
- Accident location
- Names and badge numbers of responding police officers
Some of this info such as license plates and insurance cards are easily photographed.
7. Notify your insurer. They will tell you what they will need to process your claim and how the claims process works.
After the initial shock wears off, most people start worrying about whose fault it was and what to do next. You have to deal with the other driver, insurance companies, lawyers, doctors and more. The stress and complexity of the accident can leave you with large bills to pay and leave you wondering if it’s worth suing for adequate compensation.
The National Safety Council said nearly 4.5 million people experienced serious injuries in car crashes in 2018. Furthermore, the NSC estimated the cost of motor vehicle injury, including medical expenses, motor vehicle property damage, and wage and productivity losses to be $433.8 billion. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t always cover the costs endured with an automobile accident.
When to Sue after a Car Accident
To sue or not to sue; that is the question. Depending on the type of auto insurance you have, you may not recoup all of the costs associated with your accident. Also, if the other driver does not have proper insurance, you could be responsible for paying the bill, even if you’re not at fault.
You should continue with a lawsuit if you can prove you were damaged, and that the other driver, or defendant, is to blame. Hiring an attorney may help you understand all your legal rights, and alleviate the emotional stress you may be experiencing.
There are six primary factors that can impact your compensation if you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault:
- The injuries from the accident
- Your insurance coverage
- The insurance coverage of the at-fault driver
- Medical care expenses
- Loss of income
- Pain and suffering
Another consideration is the seriousness of the injury caused by the accident. If the injury is a bruised elbow or a slightly sprained wrist, it may not be worth the hassle, time and effort to go through with a lawsuit. However, if you have extensive medical bills, and your life has been adversely affected by the accident, then pursuing a claim is the right move.
Once you have determined that your automobile accident is worthy of a lawsuit, there are some important things to do:
Document Your Automobile Accident
Along with the documentation you made at the scene, having detailed evidence is absolutely crucial for insurance claims and lawsuits. If you are looking to recover damages from time missed at work, document the lost pay. Take pictures of your property or vehicle. Keep copies of all medical expenses incurred due to the automobile accident. The more evidence you have, the stronger your case.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Some people still opt to do things on their own, but an experienced personal injury attorney is important to find. Even if you have a witness and a police report saying the other party is at fault, proving that someone was so negligent that they breached a duty of care to you can be difficult. Personal injury attorneys are skilled at gathering facts and presenting them in a clear and concise way.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means your lawyer doesn’t get paid unless you get paid. The fees come out of settlement. Your attorney will likely help you recover more money than you would on your own.
Estimate Total Damages
When it has been determined that someone else’s negligence caused you to be damaged in an auto accident, you have the beginnings of a lawsuit. The next important factor will be totaling the amount of harm you have experienced. Medical bills, lost wages, property damage and pain and suffering are important considerations when estimating total damages.
Having a solid number on the damages you feel are owed to you is extremely important. Proving your case can be very complex, and sometimes extensive legal research is needed in order to get a jury or judge to side with you.
Your lawyer will assess your damages. Property damages, missed work/wages and medical bills will account for a large portion of this. However, non-economic damages would also need to be accounted for. This could include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of family relationships and punitive damages.
Pain and suffering refers to the injuries a victim may have as a result of an accident. It doesn’t just include physical pain, but also mental injuries such as fear, insomnia, grief and even the loss of the enjoyment of life. For instance, someone burned in a car accident could recover money for the discomfort of the burn as well as the scars and disfiguration.
Keep in mind attorneys handle cases like these all the time. They know what makes a good claim and what doesn’t, and they will save you time and help you maximize your recovery.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney After a Car Accident
Now that you know what to do after a car accident that is not your fault, you understand how important it is to have an experienced advocate to help you navigate the complex policies and procedures of insurance and personal injury law.
To learn more about personal injury claims, contact us today.