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Here’s the situation: you just got into a car accident. You or the other party might be injured, your car might be damaged, and the other party might immediately blame you as responsible for the accident. You likely feel panicked, worried, shocked, or just overwhelmed by the uncertainty of the situation. There are plenty of unanswered questions that may be swirling your mind, but with this helpful guide you should be prepared to build a strong case after an accident.
Due to the sudden stress of an accident, it’s easy to become confused. Relax and take a deep breath. In this moment, it is important to obtain the necessary evidence of the crash right away. There are many things people tend to forget to document after an accident—don’t be this person. If you are unable to obtain physical evidence immediately after the accident, ask someone on the scene to gather that information for you.
Take photos of any visible property damage. The cost of any damages can be filed with your insurance claim, so make sure you have the supporting evidence. Take photos of any physical injuries. Some insurance companies may minimize or diminish the severity of your injuries if they don’t consider a “serious injury,” so it’s imperative that you take a physical photo of your injury. You’ll read down below why any injury, big or small, is worth noting after an accident. You should also take pictures of any road signs such as speed zone signs or stop signs—this will be helpful if the other driver’s neglect of these signs was the cause of the accident. If there were any hazardous road conditions, document this as well, since dangerous road conditions can cause accidents.
“If you are suffering from serious injury or severe property damage, you deserve to be given the proper compensation.”
You’ll need to contact the proper authorities immediately after an accident. Contacting the police will allow them to document information about the accident and your injuries. They will conduct an in-depth investigation of the accident. You should also contact an ambulance (especially if you have an injury—no matter how small!) to examine you and ensure you are given immediate medical attention. Ambulance personnel may also be able to determine whether or not you are exhibiting signs of a non-apparent injury like a traumatic brain injury. The police and paramedics will be able to document your injuries and the accident so that any legal claims you make later on will be easier to prove.
Once you’ve contacted the police to come to the scene, you’ll need to gather the other party’s necessary information. Write down their name, address, license plate number, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. You should also get their phone number or some other way to contact them after leaving the scene. Gather contact information from any possible witnesses to the accident. If there were witnesses to the crash, their statements may be used as evidence in a lawsuit. Were there any surveillance cameras on the street or any local business cameras nearby? Make a note of that as well. Your attorney can assist you in acquiring surveillance footage of your accident. Surveillance footage is very valuable evidence because it can help you prove your injury claim. The more evidence the better.
Let’s say the impact of a car accident causes whiplash, but you don’t hit your head against the dashboard or windshield and you don’t have any external marks or bruises. When you get home, you’re feeling perfectly fine and you’re hardly worried about any possible injury. However, there is still the possibility of a long term injury. A traumatic brain injury doesn’t just have to be a blow to the head. Our brains move. The skull’s purpose is to protect the brain from penetrable objects. In a car accident, your body moves rapidly in different directions (this is called rapid acceleration) and then stops suddenly (rapid deacceleration). When your body stops this fast, the brain is still moving in the opposite direction. This rapid movement of the brain is enough to cause a brain injury. Hitting your head either on the steering wheel or windshield is not the only circumstance where you can be at risk. This is why it’s not only critical to seek medical attention after a car accident, but also to detail any type of pain or discomfort you experienced in the crash to your attorney and insurance company any type of pain or discomfort you experienced in the crash. This will ensure you are given the proper treatment, examination, and compensation. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
After you’ve been in an accident, it is imperative that you reach out to a lawyer right awar. By reaching out to an attorney as soon as possible, you can ensure you aren’t missing any critical deadlines that could determine the fate of your compensation following an accident. A personal injury lawyer can protect you against legal claims that the other party may make against you. You’ll need to investigate who caused the crash, if they may be liable to compensate you, communicate effectively with your insurance company, and gather the appropriate evidence necessary to proceed further. A lawyer can assist you with all of this and ensure an effective investigation of the accident is successful. Understanding the law and protecting your rights is important to avoid being taken advantage of by the other party or the other party’s insurance company.
The quicker outcome after an accident is to file an insurance claim and receive a settlement in a matter of weeks. However, receiving compensation is not always that simple. Some insurance companies may act without integrity and take advantage of the fact that you are an average citizen who may not know how to navigate the law. They’ll try to offer you an unreasonable settlement that isn’t enough to cover the costs of your medical expenses or lost wages. Having a lawyer in this situation is critical to protect your rights and advocate for your future. If you are suffering from serious injury or severe property damage, you deserve the proper compensation.
If you hire a lawyer that specializes in criminal cases or healthcare, but “also handles personal injury cases,” they’re likely not the best lawyer for the job. You need to find a lawyer who has actually handled your type of case before. You should always hire a lawyer from a firm that specializes in personal injury. Look for someone who has tried and settled your type of case with good results. Presentation is key when researching for a lawyer. They should have a professional website that is informative, presentable and clear. A firm with more than one lawyer will serve their clients better, so keep this in mind. There are two red flags to watch out for: if you don’t feel comfortable with your lawyer and if your lawyer makes unrealistic promises to you. You can reach out to multiple lawyers for a free consultation. If the first attorney that you go to doesn’t seem like a good fit, you do not have to hire them.
You are now equipped with all the information you need to make prepared and intelligent decisions if you’re ever in a car accident. If there’s one thing you learned today, do not forget to hire a lawyer after an accident. The fate of your compensation and justice after an accident lies in the hands of the attorney that represents you.
If you need a personal injury attorney or would like to learn more about motor vehicle accident cases here at Ricigliano and Filopei Law, visit our practice area page. You’ll also find motor vehicle verdicts and settlements here.
Featured image credit: “Argentine Car Accident” by Andrew Milligan Sumo. Licensed under CC Licence.
Nandi Woodfork-Bey is a content marketing intern at Ricigliano & Filopei, P.C. She is working towards her Bachelor’s degree at Bard College, studying Asian Studies and Music. She’s well versed in the realm of jazz music due to her extensive experience competing in numerous jazz festivals and competitions throughout her life. Nandi also possesses a background in social media management and digital marketing through her experience marketing for a solar company and managing the social space of a startup, online company.