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What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

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What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

Car accidents are an unfortunate yet sometimes unavoidable part of life. A report by Esurance found that 77% of drivers have been involved in at least one accident, and the chances of being in an accident during a 1,000-mile trip are 1 in 366. On average, a person can expect to get into 3-4 accidents during the course of their lifetime.

While car accident fatalities have been on a downward trend for the last 36 years, primarily due to advances in vehicle technology and legislation such as seatbelt laws, the introduction to newer distractions like cell phones may change that trend. Learning what to do after a car accident is critical to winning fair compensation when it comes to injuries and property damage. 

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FAQ

Morgan & Morgan

  • What should you do immediately after a car accident?

    While it’s shocking to be involved in a car accident, if you’re able, the first thing you should do is pull your car over safely. If the accident was more severe, you might not be able to do this and really should call the police immediately. In a serious accident, they will need to take pictures and examine the scene of the accident. While waiting for the police and emergency services to respond, turn on your hazard lights.

    Check for your own injuries and other occupants of the car. It’s important to wait before moving injured people; you may do more harm than good if they have spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries. Of course, if you feel they are in harm’s way because of a ruptured gas tank, you may have to rely on instincts. 

    If the accident was relatively minor, in some states, you simply have the option to exchange insurance information and be on your way. However, some state laws require that you call the police after an accident regardless. Suppose you’re not required to wait for the police. In that case, we still recommend you file a police report at the nearest station to document all the details before you forget anything important.

    While waiting for the police, try not to engage in small talk with the other driver. It’s natural for people to show concern for others and inquire about their injuries. Still, you should not make any statements that imply you feel fine or your injuries are minor. Frankly, only your doctor can make that determination.

    Furthermore, make no admission of fault at the scene. That is up to your insurance company to decide. While the other driver might want to negotiate on the spot for cash, this is a terrible idea because you don’t know the extent of your injuries or the extent of damage to your car. It’s also a bit shady and could indicate that the other driver has a poor driving record, and they are trying to keep their insurance from skyrocketing or getting dropped from coverage altogether. 

    Minor injuries can take a while to manifest fully. Maybe you’ve had whiplash in the past. In that case, this statement should resonate with you because you didn’t feel it until hours or even days after the accident. Furthermore, back injuries can take a long time to manifest and can be one of the most debilitating long-term injuries a person can have. 

  • What information should be collected after a car accident?

    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. 

  • What are some common causes of car accidents?

    In 2020 we experienced a pandemic that was unheard of and Americans drove less because of it. Sadly, while we drove less, that didn’t have an impact on fatalities. Instead, we had the most significant increase in fatalities since 2007. A rise of 7.2 percent over the previous year pre-pandemic. Some common causes of car accidents are as follows:

    Speeding: Speeding has been one of the top causes of car accidents year after year. When someone speeds, they have less time to react to a dangerous situation and less ability to control their vehicle. Speeding is a top contributor to car accident injuries and fatalities.

    Drunk driving: Driving while intoxicated is illegal in all states and is a slam dunk when determining liability in almost all cases.

    Distracted driving: Distracted driving laws have become more and more strict in many states, especially when cell phones are concerned. In many states, it is illegal to use a handheld device while driving, and for a good reason. Distracted driving isn’t limited to cell phone usage; it can be anything from interacting with passengers to rubbernecking at the accident on the other side of the freeway. 

    Driver error:  Everybody makes mistakes, like not looking both ways at a four-way stop or simply being an inexperienced driver. However, when these mistakes cause other people harm, they can’t be glossed over. Poor decisions have repercussions.

    Tailgating: Tailgaters are not just annoying; they’re dangerous. Drivers have a duty to maintain a safe distance from the driver in front of them. By not doing so, they run the risk of rear-ending the other driver and causing injury.

    Failure to obey traffic signs and signals: The rules of the road apply to all drivers. If a driver wantonly disregards a stop sign because they are in a hurry, they can cause a crash and should be held responsible.

  • When should I call an attorney after a car accident?

    Being in a car accident can have a devastating impact on your health and can jeopardize your ability to make a living. At Morgan & Morgan, we understand how difficult this time can be, and we’re ready to offer the support you need. We can help you explore your options to get the compensation you need to move forward with your life. 

    We believe educating people on what to do after a car accident is the first step towards a resolution. After you’ve followed our advice on what to do immediately after a car accident, the second step is to contact one of our personal injury attorneys. Our law firm is dedicated to fighting the big insurance companies. In fact, we’ve been winning verdicts and negotiating favorable settlements for clients for over 30 years. And we couldn’t be more proud of our results. 

    When you need legal help, you should understand that our attorneys have a reputation for fighting relentlessly. Our objective is to empower ordinary people just like you who feel overwhelmed and taken advantage of during one of the most challenging experiences one can have. 

    Remember, the moment your accident occurred, a clock started ticking, and you don’t have very much time before the medical bills start arriving. The next blow comes when you miss that first paycheck. Furthermore, every state has a statute of limitations that governs how long you have to file a claim or lawsuit. The sooner you give us a call, the sooner we can help put things back to right and help you obtain justice. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, no-risk case evaluation. As always, if we don’t win, you don’t pay. 

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