Given how stressful and upsetting car accidents can be, it’s easy to see why so many of us fail to make the best choices in the wake of such incidents. However, if you incurred any injuries, emotional trauma or vehicle as a result of another party’s negligent driving, not making the right choices may impact your ability to collect compensation. Fortunately, while auto accidents may be tremendously frustrating, getting the restitution you’re owed doesn’t have to be an uphill battle – provided, of course, you take the steps outlined below.
Document Injuries and Vehicle Damage
One of the first things you should do in the wake of an auto accident is take stock of any injuries you or your passengers have incurred. If any of your injuries warrant immediate medical attention, take care to call an ambulance posthaste. However, if you’re able to comfortably move around, make sure to document any injuries you’re suffering, as well as any damage caused to your vehicle. Snapping some pics ensures that you’ll have fresh photographic evidence to provide to law enforcement and your insurer.
If the accident occurred in an unsafe area, it’s important that you get to safety before proceeding to document injuries or vehicle damage. For example, if you’re smack-dab in the middle of a busy road, get to the side of the road, a sidewalk or parking lot as quickly as you can. Additionally, if your vehicle is still drivable and presents a safety hazard where it is, get it to a safe location.
Wait for the Police to Arrive
Many states require motorists to call the police in the event of an accident that results in vehicle damage or personal injury, so by not alerting law enforcement of your accident, you may be guilty of illegal activity. In addition to alerting authorities, take care to remain at the scene until they – or an ambulance – arrive.
Unsurprisingly, leaving the scene of an accident before the arrival of police can hurt your case in a number of ways. For starters, even if the accident was entirely the fault of another motorist, fleeing the scene is practically guaranteed to project guilt. Furthermore, if the responsible party remains on the scene after you’ve left, they’ll have a prime opportunity to shape the narrative surrounding the accident and lay the blame squarely on you. Additionally, if you intend to take legal action against the responsible party, fleeing the scene stands to tank any case you may have had against them.
Promptly Alert Your Insurance Company
The sooner you get your car insurance claim submitted, the sooner your insurer can begin processing it. Furthermore, waiting a long time to submit a claim after an accident is liable to make things inconvenient for your insurer – and by extension, for yourself. However, it’s worth noting that reporting an accident and filing a claim are two very different things, and many insurers encourage customers to report accidents ASAP.
When submitting a claim, there are a number of documents you’ll need to include. A written account of your version of events, witness statements, repair quotes, medical bills and medical reports are among the documents you’ll be expected to provide. Additionally, the amount of time you have to file a claim varies by state, with most states having statutes of limitations of two to three years.
Reach Out to An Attorney
If your insurer – or the responsible party’s insurer – are dragging their feet or giving you the runaround, it may be wise to get in touch with a knowledgeable attorney. Furthermore, if you’re thinking about seeking restitution from the responsible in court, you’ll want a good lawyer in your corner. Floridians on the hunt for a reliable Tampa car accident attorney are likely to find a bevy of qualified options.
There’s no denying that car accidents are among the most stressful situations in which many of us will ever find ourselves. Still, the choices you make in the wake of an auto accident can determine how successful your efforts to collect compensation are likely to be. As such, it behooves you to be mindful of your post-accident choices, regardless of how angry or shaken up you are. Keeping a cool head and putting the previously discussed pointers to good use can go a long way in keeping you the compensation you’re owed.