If you are involved in an auto accident, there are certain steps you should take to ensure that your rights are protected. Do you know the proper steps and who to call on if you need help? If not, this list may help. Remember, you are the only person at the scene of an auto accident who is concerned with preserving your rights!
What Happens In Most Auto Accidents
Many auto accidents do not involve serious injury. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than six million car accidents in the United States each year, about six percent of which result in fatality and about 27 percent of which result in nonfatal serious injuries. Therefore, in the majority of car accidents, your biggest concern is ensuring that you obtain a police report and work with your own and the other driver’s insurance company to repair your vehicle.
However, what if you are one of the unlucky victims of a more serious accident? The NHTSA reports that nearly three million drivers suffered some form of injury in a car accident last year, and two million of those were permanent injuries. An injury changes the landscape of a car crash quickly, as most insurance companies will try hard to settle these cases rapidly and avoid further expense.
What Should I Do At the Scene?
At the scene, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Make sure the police are called. Many drivers walk away after exchanging insurance information, but this is often a bad idea. A police report gives an objective view of the accident and is one of the key pieces of evidence you will need to make your case to an insurance company or a court.
- Take photos. Just in case there is a question about the damage, make plenty of photos of the scene, the vehicles, and anyone who is present. This will help you to show others what happened at the time of the crash.
- Exchange insurance information. You will want to ensure that you know who the other driver is, what insurance company he or she has, and the contact information for that insurance company. If possible, ask for driver’s license information as well.
If you or someone else is injured in the crash, there are other important steps to take.
- Never refuse medical care. If you are injured in any way, you should seek immediate medical care. Not only does this protect your health, but it also shows that you took your injuries seriously at the time of the crash. If you refuse care, this may be used against you at a later time if you claim to be injured.
- Keep copies of all medical records and bills. These will be useful if you file a personal injury claim later.
- Follow the doctor’s instructions. Failure to follow medical advice can also be used against you later if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, so be sure to follow your doctor’s orders.
- Never negotiate with an insurance company or settle your case without professional guidance. Do you know if the insurance company is offering you enough money for your injury? What if you need further medical care? What if your injury appears minor at the time but later develops into a bigger problem? These are all questions that should be directed to a personal injury attorney handling your case. Remember, it is up to you to protect your rights, and the best way to do that is to consult with a professional who is on your side. Insurance companies are probably not going to tell you how much your case is worth; instead, they will try to settle your case quickly and at a low cost.
The professionals at Barber & Associates have been helping Alaska car accident victims for many years. Give us a call to learn how we can help you evaluate your car accident case, pay for your injuries, and protect your rights.