What to Do if You Get Into a Car Accident

What to Do if You Get Into a Car Accident

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What to Do if You Get Into a Car Accident

Every year in the United States, an average of six million car accidents occurs. Anytime you get into a vehicle, you are at risk of a collision, and car accidents can have profound consequences for those involved, including severe injuries.

At Morgan and Morgan, we understand that when your life is suddenly disrupted in such an unexpected and painful way, you can easily feel overwhelmed and confused about what to do next.

If you are wondering what to do if you get into a car accident, Morgan and Morgan would like to talk to you about your legal options and inform you of steps you can take to protect your rights. You might be eligible to win compensation for your injuries and other losses if another driver was the cause of your car accident.

We can help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn more.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

Stay at the scene until the police arrive - We understand that if you get into a minor fender bender, you may not want to get the police involved because you trust that the insurance companies will just sort it out. Unfortunately, you may run into issues if the other driver decides to change their story after the fact. Suppose they claim they've suffered a serious injury or come up with a different version of the accident. They may even blame you for the accident.

A police report is an unbiased summary of the accident with the responding officer's conclusions. Because police officers generally have no stake in the outcome of the accident, the information provided in their report is usually viewed as likely factual and trustworthy. On the other hand, individuals involved in accidents have a lot riding on the outcome of a case, especially financially, so it's not unheard of for people to bend the truth to favor their position.

If a police officer asks if you're injured, tell them you aren't sure because this is likely 100% accurate. If you tell them you aren't injured and later discover you have whiplash or a slipped disc in your back, you'll have to back peddle needlessly.

A police report will also provide information that can be helpful to insurance representatives and your lawyers, such as contact information for everyone involved, environmental conditions that may have influenced the accident, and an opinion as to the cause of the accident.

Another reason to stay at the scene until police have arrived is that it may be illegal to leave the scene. All states require accidents to be reported when there are injuries. Many states require a report when there is property damage, but the thresholds vary. Regardless of whether your accident was minor, it's always a good rule of thumb to get a police report. That way, you lessen the risk of getting into a dispute concerning the facts of the accident later on with nothing but your word against the other party's.

Protect and document the scene - While it's recommended to wait until the police arrive, sometimes it's not always possible. Suppose it's a minor accident, and police are overrun with more serious issues. In that case, you may be directed to file an accident report at a later time. You can still take steps to protect your interests, even without police help. Take pictures or video of any injuries and property damage to either vehicle. Try to capture the surrounding scene, including anything that may have contributed to the accident, such as obstructed traffic signs, potholes, black ice, or adverse weather conditions.

Be sure to get the contact details of any witnesses and document the other party's information, such as getting a picture of their driver's license, insurance card, and vehicle plates. Don't forget about any passengers, too. They can be vital witnesses. If the other driver is accusing you of being at fault, and you're sure of your innocence, it wouldn't hurt to contact nearby residents or businesses to see if they have outside surveillance footage that could be preserved to prove it.
 
Get medical attention - When asking about what to do if you get into a car accident, seeking medical care is vital. Car accidents happen every day, and if you're fortunate, you won't suffer any injuries. Still, the only way to know for sure is to get checked out by a doctor. In many instances, people don't notice injuries until hours or even days after an accident. That's because non-life-threatening damage to soft tissues and even severe head and spinal injuries may take a while to become apparent.

It's crucial to get examined, both for your well-being and for any potential insurance settlement. Even if you have a minor case of whiplash, it can still be painful and cause disruption to your life, which should be compensable when another driver is responsible for the accident.

Medical documentation is used as evidence of your injury and will play a pivotal role in any insurance settlement. Medical records are used to justify the amount of compensation you receive. Without it, you will have an uphill battle getting the type of settlement you deserve because anyone that's been in a car accident can claim they've been injured. Insurance companies want to see proof.  

Report the accident to your insurance provider - You'll need to let your insurance provider know about the car accident as soon as possible. In fact, most insurance contracts require prompt reporting. Failing to do so can jeopardize your coverage. Still, it's important to realize that whatever you say will have an impact.

As with the police officer, if you have yet to see a doctor, tell them you aren't sure about injuries. Suppose the other party has failed to pay their premiums, or you find out they are underinsured. You might have to rely on your insurance company to pay for the damages in that case. While this may sound counterintuitive since they're your insurance company, plenty of our clients have learned the hard way that insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying on claims, even if it's to their own clients.

You will likely be contacted by the other party's insurer as soon as they file a claim on their side or your insurer initiates the process. It's vital that you do not agree to make any statements until after you've consulted with Morgan and Morgan. They may insist that you provide a recorded statement, but you don't have any legal obligation to give one right away. You have rights, and we can help protect them.

You may not realize that insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions that can entrap you and hurt your claim. For example, they may sound concerned about your recovery and ask about your injuries. Now, it's pretty common for people to downplay bad things in their life, especially when talking to a complete stranger. It's natural to say something like, "I'm okay," or "I'm feeling a little better," because it's a coping mechanism, and nobody likes to sound vulnerable. However, an insurance adjuster can use this as evidence against you to minimize any compensation. Any "admission" to an insurance company should be reviewed by a skilled car accident attorney beforehand.

Keep all documentation - It's crucial to keep a paper trail of every expense, income loss, medical visit, phone call, text, email, and so forth in preparation for your settlement. You may also want to keep a journal detailing how the accident has affected your life. For example, ask yourself if you've had to miss important social or family events and outings due to your injuries. Write it down if you can't sleep because of pain or emotional trauma. Likewise, suppose you need help performing routine household tasks. In that case, it should all be presented as evidence of the extent of your injuries and their impact on your life.

Ensure your rights are protected - Following getting medical care, the next most important thing you can do is contact a highly skilled car accident attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Your Morgan and Morgan lawyer will work to preserve evidence, hold the at-fault party accountable, inform you of your legal options, and endeavor to get you the maximum compensation.

We understand that many people worry about the cost of a lawyer. That's a reasonable concern, especially when you're already facing a lot of expenses that you weren't expecting, such as medical bills and car repairs. However, our personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This is an arrangement where we only get paid if we successfully recover compensation on your behalf. If we don't win, you don't pay. Even so, you may wonder if the costs are justifiable.

People often assume a lawyer can't make a difference, particularly if the other party's insurance company is already signaling they're ready to settle. However, they might be in a hurry to pay because they know your claim is worth more than you know. With our years of experience, we understand that the first settlement offer is rarely the best they can do and usually doesn't cover your total losses. Insurers are quick to offer, so you don't have time to fully assess your damages, such as an ongoing need for medical care.

When you're represented by Morgan and Morgan, your lawyer will take the time to look at the big picture to ensure your damages are calculated accurately. You may not realize that you have the right to claim expenses like childcare, car share rides, and even food delivery if your injuries are why you've had to modify routines. If your injury is likely to require ongoing or future medical care, we work closely with your doctor to understand those expenses, too.

Claims that involve a personal injury attorney are usually resolved successfully and for more money than those without legal representation. That's a fact that the insurance industry discovered through its own research, so it's no wonder they attempt to convince claimants that lawyers are not necessary.

Your Morgan and Morgan lawyer can also do a great deal when the fault for your car accident is in question. If you live in a comparative fault state, this can make a massive difference in the amount of your settlement. The degree of fault you share will dictate how much compensation you get, so working with someone who can minimize your involvement is essential.

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  • What Is My Case Worth?

    When you ask what to do if you get into a car accident, we understand you have plenty of other questions, too. The obvious one is how much you might expect from a settlement. You may also need clarification about whether you should settle or take your case to court. Morgan and Morgan can answer all your questions and provide you with the critical legal support you need. Your case's value hinges on various factors, such as your degree of fault, if any, the other party's insurance policy limits, your injuries, and other special circumstances, like if the accident involved a commercial party.

    There is no definite answer to how much a case is worth until we understand all the critical aspects of your accident. That's why we encourage you to reach out today for a free case evaluation. We'll look at your accident in-depth and provide you with the best steps to move forward. You shouldn't be left with expenses when another party is responsible. Our goal is to make sure you get the highest settlement possible when a negligent driver causes you harm.

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