No one likes to be a victim of an accident, but sometimes you cannot escape a scenario and you end up in the middle of one.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were approximately 6,296,000 police-reported crashes in the United States. That comes out to about 17,250 accidents per day.
With more cars on the road and more drivers than at any time in recent history, the odds of a person getting into an accident are pretty high. The best you can do is to practice defensive driving as much as you can and be aware of the other drivers around you.
Despite your best efforts, however, there may come a time when you are involved in an accident. Hopefully, it will be a minor one and your injuries will not be serious. If you are involved in an accident, it is extremely important to seek legal help as soon as possible.
There are eight things you should do if you get into an accident:
1. NEVER admit fault at the scene of an accident
Every attorney on the planet will advise you to NEVER admit fault when you are involved in an accident. There are always circumstances that you may not be taking into consideration, and emotions are running high. In every state, you are only required to exchange insurance information and cooperate with any police investigation.
2. File an accident report as quickly as you can with your insurance company
The police on the scene will fill out an accident report, and you will receive a copy. Be sure to call your insurance company and give them all of the details as calmly and as quickly as possible. In some rare cases, your insurance company can refuse to protect you if you don’t report the accident on a timely basis (refer to the fine print in your insurance policy for all of the details).
3. Be sure to take advantage of ALL of your insurance policy benefits
Most people will have coverage for a rental car, but be aware that some policies may limit how many days they will cover. Look into what medical claims and deductibles your policy covers, as well as loss of wages if you are out of work.
4. When safely possible, document everything
Use your cell phone camera to take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible. Use various angles, and record everything in the scene. Make notes as well. Some insurance companies even give you “what to do at an accident scene” instruction papers.
5. NEVER sign documents for the other driver without first seeking legal advice
Many people have mistakenly signed documents at the scene of an accident without realizing what it is they are doing. Consult with an attorney before signing ANYTHING after you have been involved in an accident.
6. Seek medical care as quickly as possible
Make sure that everything is documented and recorded, including all medical tests, medications and treatments (including recommendations for physical therapy, etc.). Some of those documents may be needed if your attorney has to file a claim against the other driver.
7. Do not allow anyone to record you or your voice at the scene of an accident
There are no state laws on the record that require you to give a statement that will be recorded at the scene of an accident. The other parties may try and pressure you into admitting something on a recording, but stay confident and calmly state that you will be consulting with an attorney who will answer any questions they may have.
8. Seek the advice of an attorney as quickly as you can
Some people think they can handle their own accident claims, but the legal system can be confusing so you need an expert on your side that can make sure you are being compensated for all of your claims.
As if being in an accident isn’t bad enough, unless you are friends with an attorney who is well versed in those types of cases, your next challenge will be to find someone who can represent you against the insurance company of the other driver. No doubt you have seen commercials on television with local attorneys who claim “they know how to take the insurance companies to court…and get you the settlement you deserve.”
But the truth is, it is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of all personal injury cases are settled before going to trial.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for an attorney to handle your accident case:
Find an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases
Try and avoid selecting an attorney who “does it all,” including wills, contract law, estates and everything else in the book. You really need someone who is well versed in personal injuries to represent you.
Find an attorney who has a track record of high verdicts and settlements
Insurance companies will have experienced attorneys on their side who will try and prevent you from receiving a high settlement. If your case warrants it, look for an attorney who is a member of The Million Dollar Advocates. It is a renowned organization of attorneys who have settled or tried cases worth a million dollars or more. (More information can be found at https://www.milliondollaradvocates.com/)
Find an attorney who will let you talk to past clients
Every attorney who has done a great job for past clients will be proud of their accomplishment and give you references. If they try and tell you that information is confidential, then it is time to search around and find someone else to represent you.
If you are involved in an accident, be sure to seek legal help as soon as you can.