Car accidents can happen anytime, anywhere, causing injuries, emotional trauma, and property damage. Though insurance companies help cover some of the financial consequences, you might be on the financial hook for some car repairs and medical bills.
A car accident settlement is a common way to receive financial compensation for the accident. However, there are some steps you should take to help protect yourself from the costly aftermath of a car accident. If you are in a car accident you should take these seven critical steps.
1: Determine The Extent of Your Injuries
The first thing you should do right after an accident is to check if you or anyone else in the accident needs urgent medical attention. It includes the passengers in your vehicle and everyone in the other driver’s car. Even if there is no apparent injury, it is best to see a doctor to be checked out. Internal damage can be unseen to the naked eye but life-threatening, so waiting for help may worsen the situation.
2: Don’t Move The Vehicle
If possible, try not to move the cars involved in the wreck unless the scene is causing a significant problem with the traffic. It can be helpful later on for insurance purposes to see how the cars ended up. If it is dark, put on the hazard lights in your vehicle or keep the flashers on to avoid further accidents.
3: Contact The Police
Even if you have insurance, the accident’s aftermath can become complicated. You likely will need a formal police report to file a claim at some time.
While waiting for the police to arrive, get the contact information of eyewitnesses and jot down everything you remember about the car crash. Make sure not to leave the accident scene until the police arrive and record your statement.
4: Document The Information
If you have a mobile phone or camera, take pictures of the cars and the accident scene. You can also photograph visible injuries to yourself or others in the accident if any. Also, make sure to write down the circumstances when the accident took place, such as time of day, traffic conditions, how other drivers were driving, etc. Just write down anything you remember. It may be helpful to the investigation later on.
5: Notify Your Insurance Company
You might want to call your insurance company at the accident scene. Your insurer should be able to tell what you need to do next to file the claim and explain what kind of things you need to do. It is not advisable to avoid reporting the accident to your insurance company and instead work privately with the other driver to resolve the situation. Doing so can leave you without the compensation you are entitled to.
6: Keep an Incident Report
Now that you’ve notified your insurance company and started the claim process continue documenting everything related to the accident.
Three parts of the accident claim will value your document and help you get fair compensation:
- Property damage
- Economic damage
- Non-economic damage
This is the amount of claim associated with the damage to your property. For example, if your car has been damaged beyond repair, the insurer will determine the value based on similar vehicles’ research values. This way, they calculate the amount you are entitled to receive.
Economic loss is the actual cost and the future estimates associated with the injuries and accidents. It is supported by bills, statements, and other documents. You need to assemble all the proofs for the costs and losses incurred.
Some of the examples are:
- Hospital Bills
- Doctor Bills
- Lost Wages
- Emergency Service Bills (life flight, ambulance, etc.)
This part covers emotional trauma and lifestyle changes resulting from car accidents. These losses can be challenging to prove, but an experienced accident lawyer can help you file a claim for such losses.
7: Hire an Auto Accident Injury Attorney
It’s generally up to an insurance company to determine which party is liable for paying for an accident or the amount of an auto accident settlement. Though the payment is supposed to be made in the best interest of both sides, sometimes one party might decide to take the case to court for a trial on who was at fault. In such a situation, an experienced Houston car accident attorney can help guide you with the best possible way to file a lawsuit.