If you are in a condition where you can communicate with the other driver, you should start the documentation exchange process but only just that. Again, you don’t want to get too friendly with the other driver and say something that could hurt your claim. Just stick to the basics, which are:
- Name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color, and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
- Witness contact information
If possible, collect further evidence, like pictures of the damage to both cars, and document anything else of interest at the scene like the weather and any road conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
See a doctor
Even if you feel okay after an accident, it’s simply crucial to get checked out by a physician. You could be in a state of shock and still have endorphins coursing through your body that are numbing the pain. While our bodies are extraordinarily resilient, an exam by your physician can reveal injuries to your skeletal or soft tissues which may not be apparent to you in your current state.
Insurance companies use automated systems to adjust claims based on varying data. One of them is how long it took you to seek out medical care. The reason being is that if you suffered significant injuries, you would have taken a proactive approach to your own care. Waiting to see a doctor can hurt your ability to get the compensation you deserve.
However, not always. We’ve had clients that went to their doctor after being in an accident and got a clean bill of health only to discover over the course of time an undiagnosed herniated disc made their lives miserable. While it’s tougher to prove these types of injuries long after an accident, it’s certainly not impossible with the right personal injury attorney. For the case in this example, the client went from a paltry $16,000 insurance settlement offer to a $245,000 verdict when we took his case to trial.
Remember, a favorite tactic in the insurance industry is to discredit and mitigate liability for your injuries by minimizing them. They could argue that the injury was preexisting or happened after the accident in question if you wait. But even if you had a preexisting injury, a doctor can determine if the accident aggravated the older injury or made it worse. In that scenario, you should be eligible for compensation.
Contact your insurance provider to start a claim
Contacting your insurance provider should be done in a timely manner. They can assist in expediting the claim, so you receive compensation quickly. Your insurance company will send an insurance adjuster out to verify all the details, assess the damages, and determine who was at fault for the accident. Responsibility is handled differently depending on which state the accident occurred in.
Some states have “no-fault” insurance laws, meaning each driver will have to pay for their own injuries through personal injury protection (PIP). However, property damage is still paid by the at-fault driver.
In other states, “at-fault” insurance laws are in place, which means the at-fault driver is responsible for injuries and property damage. Some of these states also base fault using percentages. This means you could be partially at fault, and your compensation will be adjusted accordingly.