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What Steps to Take After Getting in a Car Accident

Following a car accident, you should speak to an injury lawyer as quickly as you can. The lawyer can then answer your questions and guide you through the process of filing your claim. Opening communications with the responsible parties and their insurers is important. Equally important are notifications to your own health insurance and auto insurance carriers. The sooner you have your claim filed, the sooner you can take legal action against the person who harmed you and/or your family.

What are the most important steps you can take to get the necessary and critical actions taken care of?

1. Document the Accident and All Related Information

Be sure to keep all of this documentation on-hand during the case process. Keep the files and documents in order and readily available as your lawyer will need it.

Identify the officers

Once the officers have arrived, write down their names and badge numbers. You may need to contact them for legal purposes and it’s easier to have their information on hand.

Request a copy of the accident report

Ask the police officers where you can obtain a copy of the accident report and if there will be any issues with obtaining all information. You should expect that your insurer asks for a copy of the report when you file a car insurance claim.

Take pictures of the accident and all accident-related injuries

If you are able, document the incident with photographs of your vehicle and injuries from different angles, showing the damage to both cars. You may also want to take a photo of the other car's license plate, although the officers will usually obtain that information.

You may need to share photos with the adjusters during the claims process to help support your claim. You should also take photos of your injuries or those involved in your accident for further legal action during the claims process. The more evidence you have, the better.

Write down names and talk to any witnesses available

Write down the names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident, including all passengers in the other vehicle, but only if you are able to do so, and in the event that the officers do not. If there were any witnesses to the accident, write down their names and contact information as well.

2. Notify Your Insurer and Start the Claims Process

You should notify your insurance agent as quickly as possible and then provide that person any information regarding the accident that he or she may request.This way, they can tell you exactly what will be needed to process your claim. Furthermore, they can also tell you what to expect during the claims process. Each insurance company has its process for filing claims and the required information needed to get the process started.

Be ready to provide any documentation you already have, including a copy of the police report, photos, and information regarding your medical treatment and the name of the other driver and witnesses. Your insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case who will assess any damages or injuries to determine what the insurer will cover.

3. Hire an attorney

After reporting your accident to the insurance company, you need to hire a qualified attorney to help ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Once you have chosen an attorney (see more on this later in the article), know what questions to ask. Here are some critical questions you should remember to ask, even before the case has taken significant progress:

  • Do you think this case has a chance of winning a lawsuit?
  • How likely do you think that I’ll receive a settlement or judgment?
  • What factors are considered in valuing my case?
  • Do you think mediation should be considered?
  • How long do you think it will take for my case to be completed?
  • What weaknesses do you think my case has that work against me?

Obtaining a lawyer early on will serve as an advantage (and protection) for you and also gives your lawyer more time to build a solid case on your behalf.

4. Important Considerations

Every accident is different and has its variables to consider. However, as you go pursue your personal injury lawsuit, there are important considerations such as:

Statute of Limitations: Every state has a statute of limitations. This is a time frame in which you must file a lawsuit in order to preserve your claim. Thus, do not wait to retain counsel. If this time frame has passed, you can’t file a claim.

A Lack of Coverage: If the at-fault driver is uninsured, you may be facing all medical costs without the benefit of insurance coverage. You should confirm as quickly as possible whether your insurance policy includes underinsured and/or uninsured motorist coverage.

Early Settlement: Be cautious if asked to settle your claim early. Many times your damages cannot be fully determined for some time.

5. Keep Good Records of All Expenses

Keep a careful record of every loss or expense you incur as a result of the accident or your injuries. If you communicate well, keep good records and retain the right attorney for you, then you are more likely to maximize your recovery.

How to Find a Personal Injury Attorney for Yourself

To start with finding an attorney, you can make a list of the potential attorneys that you’re interested in representing you. Research each attorney online to learn their public reviews and professional image. Also, talk to family and friends whose opinions you trust. Research and contemplate each option and find someone best matched for your situation.

Meet in Person

Meet with your selected attorney in person. One of the most important questions to ask is how payment will be handled. Most personal injury attorneys charge a contingent fee, which means they do not get paid, or charge an attorney fee, until and unless a recovery is obtained through settlement or trial. The fee is typically based upon a percentage of the gross recovery. If no recovery is made, you don’t owe any fees. It’s important to discuss the costs of the case as well. If the attorney advances those costs, you should ask what will be repaid and on what terms.

Ask Questions

Never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how trivial they may seem to you. This is a lawsuit and your questions should be answered.

Experience

Find an attorney for your injury case with long-term and successful experience in this type of case. Ask if personal injury is a type of law in which they have experience. You should also choose a lawyer you can connect with and can have a potentially long-term rapport with.

It’s also helpful to ask how strong your case is. Your attorney should be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your claim.

If you do not know what questions to ask or what details you must provide, your attorney should be able to explain the process to you in detail and help identify what information he or she needs to prosecute your case. The lawyer you choose should be quick in responding to your messages, and their responses should also be clear and professional while also friendly. Worst & Associates welcomes the opportunity to speak with you about your claims.