Every time you hit the road, you face the risk of getting involved in an accident. While accidents are an unavoidable occurrence, learning how to react beforehand can prevent the impact from extending to your bank account or infringing your legal rights. Here is what you should do immediately after being involved in a car accident:
Contact an attorney
If you or your passenger sustain injuries in the accident, it is best to seek the services of an experienced lawyer. An attorney will help you maximize your insurance settlement and defend you if you are at fault or wrongfully blamed for the accident. Many attorneys, including this car accident lawyer Tampa, charge a contingency fee, meaning you won’t pay for their services out of pocket, and you can involve them in your case almost immediately after the crash.
Seek medical attention
Your top priority following a collision is to ensure you don’t have any injuries. Check your body for cuts, bruises, and pain, and ensure your passengers are safe as well. If any of you have severe injuries, call an ambulance immediately. For minor injuries, wait for the police to make a report before seeking medical attention. Note that waiting too long before seeking medical attention can impact your case negatively. Insurance adjusters will argue that the injuries were not severe enough to necessitate immediate care and propose a lower settlement.
Do not tamper with the accident scene
After an accident do your best not move or let anyone move their car until the police arrive and write a report. If there is a need to move vehicles, make sure to take pictures and videos of the scene first. Take pictures of the cars involved from different angles and be sure to show the extent of damages to both cars. These photos will help to support your claim.
After making sure that neither you or any other person has been injured, it is advisable to exchange insurance information and contacts with the other driver. You should also obtain from other passengers involved as well as witnesses to make it easy for your attorney to contact them in the future if need be.
Inform the police
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, always call the police if you are involved in an accident. Police reports increase the credibility of your claim and shield you from being held liable for another person’s fault.
Avoid discussing your case
It is never a good idea to discuss fault with the other drivers or insurance representatives in the heat of the moment. You could accidentally admit to wrongdoing and severely hurt your case. Insurance adjusters will always look to minimize settlements by fair means or foul. Even if the at-fault party’s insurance company contacts you, do not go as far as sharing your opinion of what went down. A small contradiction is all it takes to have the tables turned on you.
Call a tow truck
Even if someone else is responsible for the damage to your vehicle, you still need to seek towing services yourself. Fault determination takes place much later, so it’s impossible to get the at-fault party to arrange and pay for the towing services there and then. You can call your mechanic if the accident occurs within your locality, or contact your insurance for roadside assistance. Since the towing expenses will likely be part of the settlement, ensure the tow company issues you a receipt.
File your claim
The statute of limitations for car accident claims is between two and three years in most states. Nevertheless, you should initiate the process as soon as possible while the evidence is fresh and witnesses can recall what happened.
Avoid early settlement offers
While you want to move on as quickly as possible after a car accident, don’t be quick to accept early settlement offers. It is wise to wait until you know the extent of your injuries and vehicle damage. Some injuries may not be apparent for days, weeks, or even months, and you want to make sure you will be compensated for all your injuries. Your insurance company may try to lowball your offer, which is why it’s necessary to have an attorney during the negotiation process.
Accidents occur when you least expect them, and their impacts can last for months or even years. To minimize your damages and maximize your compensation, you need to act quickly. Follow the steps above to avoid financial and emotional setbacks as you get back on your feet.
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