Every year, thousands of drivers and passengers are involved in car crashes. Whether a collision involves significant injuries and property damage or it’s a small fender-bender, it will likely involve a claim with an insurer—yours or the other driver’s.
While every accident is different, there are a few steps anyone involved should take to ensure that their rights are protected and they’re appropriately compensated. In this guide, you’ll learn how to start a car accident injury claim.
At the Scene of the Accident
Immediately after a collision, the most important thing to do is to ensure the well-being and safety of any passengers and the other people involved. Call for medical services if anyone seems to be injured, as in many cases, harm can arise from seemingly minor auto accidents. Most jurisdictions have time limits on auto accident injury claims, and laws typically require victims to seek medical attention right away.
Regardless of the nature of a passenger or driver’s injuries, call local law enforcement and ask that an officer visit the scene. This step is essential even in the event of a minor accident. A police report, which is created at the accident scene, will do much to document a driver’s fault and help a victim build a case.
While you’re at the scene of the accident, get the name, driver’s license number, license plate number, insurance information, and contact information for all drivers involved. It’s also a good idea to get the names and information of any witnesses.
If possible, photograph the accident scene, including the involved vehicles, the location of any traffic signals, and any evidence such as skid marks and debris. You may want to take notes on road and weather conditions at the time the accident occurred. Finally, don’t make any statements that other parties may use against you later.
Seeking Medical Attention Due to Car Accident Injury
Obtaining timely and proper treatment for accident injuries is crucial. Tell the attending physician that you’ve been in an auto accident and be sure to follow through on all recommended treatments. If your symptoms don’t resolve themselves, feel free to get a second opinion.
It may help your case to take notes on any pain you’re suffering, the treatments you’re receiving, and the medicines you’re taking. The success of your injury claim will depend on the thoroughness of the medical records that document your injuries, how they’re related to the event, and how they’ve affected your life.
Dealing With the Insurance Company
As soon as you can, call your auto insurance company to report the accident. The company will assign an adjuster to your case, and they’ll address all aspects of the claim. You’ll need to provide information about the accident, and the insurer may ask for a recorded statement.
If a claim involves property damage, the insurer may send someone out to evaluate its severity and determine if the vehicle is repairable. Depending on your insurance coverage, you may be eligible for vehicle rental reimbursement. You’ll also have to report the event to the other driver’s insurance company, but it’s best to speak carefully, as they don’t have your best interests in mind.
Consider Seeking Legal Counsel
Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident is difficult even under the best circumstances. After such an event, it can be quite daunting to provide the necessary insurance documentation and engage in settlement negotiations. A personal injury lawyer can lighten the load by finding facts, gathering documentation, and negotiating on your behalf.