Auto accidents can be frightening, and it’s easy to find yourself bewildered and unable to think clearly in the moment. That’s why it’s so important to learn in advance what needs to be done.
Taking the proper steps in the immediate period following vehicle accidents is critical for making your case to the insurance companies, and for ensuring that you receive all damages allowed under law.
Assess the situation
Take a moment to inspect yourself for any injuries, and to inspect your nearby surroundings for any remaining source of danger (a fire, or exposed electrical components, for instance). Call 911 immediately. You may need an ambulance or help from a bystander, if necessary. If everything checks out, turn your attention to the rest of the scene. Contact emergency services if any other individuals appear to be injured.
Document the incident
The first step when interacting with other individuals who may have been involved in the accident should be to exchange personal and insurance information. You’ll want auto details as well: obtain the make, model, year, and plate number of any other vehicles that have sustained damage.
Next, ensure that a full picture of the incident is preserved. Photo evidence is hard to argue with, and smartphones and tablets come in handy here: do your best to obtain clear, unobstructed shots of all discernible damages from multiple angles (including damages to your own vehicle, to any other vehicle/s or person/s involved, and to structures in the environment).
Finally, it’s generally a good idea to consent to any medical treatment that you may be offered on the scene. Having injuries – everything from bumps and bruises to broken bones – documented ensures that you can receive the medical reimbursement costs that you are owed. Even if you strongly suspect that you’re unscathed, it’s good practice to keep detailed accounts of any treatment that you are administered. Certain injuries (whiplash, for instance) often emerge some time later, and in the event that you require follow-up diagnostics or treatments, it’s ideal to have proof of how the incident has impacted your daily life. When lawyers need to prove and qualify “pain and suffering”, these sorts of records are key.
Speak to an attorney
Insurance companies may propose a settlement early on, in order to close the claim quickly and without further expense on their part. Never accept an offer like this without first receiving professional legal consultation.
Remember, the insurance companies are not on your side. It’s nothing personal, just business – they don’t make their money by doling out huge payments all over the place. Personal injury attorneys understand your rights and the true value of your damages, so you can meet the insurance provider/s on a level playing field and get what’s owed to you.
The law firm of Ashenden & Associates serves the Atlanta area with professional legal services, especially in the field of personal injury. Contact us today for a free consultation.