Anytime you’re involved in a traffic accident, you’ll be left feeling unnerved and confused.
It’s only natural to feel that way, but, at the same time, it’s important to try to remain calm and react rationally to the situation.
In spite of feeling those heightened emotions, there are things you will have to do long before you reach the point at which you will have to hire an auto injury lawyer. If you react in the right way, you can help yourself get a better outcome out of any claim you may need to make.
Assess the Situation
The very first thing you will need to do is assess the situation. This will help you determine the medical needs of those involved and help you gather enough preliminary information, so you can make a call for emergency services. You should begin by assessing your own medical condition and, if you’re able to move around, find out how the other driver and passengers are doing. While you’re not expected to make a professional diagnosis, you should be able to determine the condition of each person involved in the accident. If anyone is seriously injured and may be in danger, a 9-1-1 call should be made instantly to ensure the quickest possible response.
Keep in mind the 9-1-1 operator will need the location of the accident and will need to know how many people were injured. Getting this information quickly is vital, so assess the situation as fast as you can. You can help by locating the nearest major intersection to the accident, since this will help emergency personnel find you more quickly. The more information you can provide, the easier you will make it for ambulances and police to find you.
Collect Contact Information
While you’re waiting for the police and other emergency personnel to arrive, this is the best time to collect information from those at the scene.
You should approach the drivers of any other vehicles involved in the accident and obtain their names, contact information, and information about their insurance coverage. In return, be prepared to provide those drivers with your information. This will help speed up the claim process, once you’re able to leave the accident scene.
When the police do arrive, it’s important to make sure you give a statement about the accident. In some cases, the investigating officer will only ask briefly about the accident, or he may take a statement from one driver.
Rather than let the other driver’s statement serve as the official account of the accident, it’s important to insist that you also be allowed to make a statement. This is your opportunity to ensure your version of the events is on record. Later, when you request a copy of that police report, you can double check your statement for accuracy. Your copy of the report will also help you in filing your claim for damages.
Document the Accident
Another thing you should do at the scene of the accident is to document it. The best way to do this is to use your phone’s camera to take pictures of the scene of the accident. A general picture of the overall scene of the accident can provide perspective and can help your car accident personal injury lawyer show how the accident occurred.
This may be helpful in establishing your side of the story. Additionally, be sure to get close-up pictures of the damages to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the accident. It may be beneficial to get detailed pictures of damage caused to other property at the scene, such as guardrails, lamp posts, fences, etc.
While you’re taking pictures, be sure to get photos of the license plates of the vehicles involved. This will make it easier to file your claim, since insurance agents will request this information. Having pictures of the license plates can help you avoid making mistakes in filing your claim. These photos can also help your car accident personal injury lawyer prepare your case.
Get a Medical Evaluation
Even before you begin searching for car injury law firms,your medical evaluation should come first. This is an important step that should be taken immediately for a number of reasons. First, you may be more severely injured than you realize, even if you’re not experiencing any pain or other symptoms. Serious head, back, and neck injuries can take days or weeks to manifest.
By the time you do start to experience symptoms of these injuries, they may have grown more severe and successful recovery may be more difficult. However, an early examination will help your doctor identify these medical conditions much sooner, making treatment much more effective.
Secondly, delaying treatment will look badly for your personal injury claim. If you delay a medical evaluation, you may be charged with contributory negligence, which means you intentionally played a part in allowing your injuries to worsen. In this case, you may be limited in how much you can claim in damages, or you may be prevented from filing a claim at all.
Hire an Attorney
Now it’s time to begin looking for car injury law firms and, while this isn’t as big of an emergency as getting medical treatment, finding a lawyer soon is essential. This is because it won’t take long for the insurance company to send out an adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to save money for the insurance company by reducing what they have to pay out to you.
They can do this by pressuring you into taking an early cash settlement, which will be low and insufficient to cover all of your damages.
Your auto injury lawyer willhave the experience to know how much will constitute a fair settlement in your case. He can negotiate on your behalf to help you get the offer you deserve. If the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate, your lawyer will already be familiar with the facts of your case.
This means he’s already prepared to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit to help you recover damages. Individuals who hire personal injury lawyers soon after being involved in an auto accident typically recover more in damages than those who try to handle their cases themselves.