This information explains many of your rights if you are injured in an automobile accident and the accident was not your fault. However, it is certainly not a substitute for good professional legal advice from an attorney who has the necessary knowledge and experience in this area of the law. Also, keep in mind that laws and procedures change frequently and are subject to differing interpretations. Therefore, if you want up to date legal advice, it is best to consult with an attorney. If you decide to hire an attorney, remember that the hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.
In today’s fast-paced society, no matter how careful you are, the chances are high that you will be injured in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence. As if being hurt isn’t bad enough, the way people are sometimes treated by insurance companies can be worse. Insurance companies do their best to deny or reduce your claim, and if they must pay your claim, they may delay as long as possible before making the payment. The insurance industry is a multi-billion dollar business with very little regulation. Insurance costs each of us an average of 12% of our total income even if you have never made an insurance claim in your life. It is important to be prepared before an accident occurs so that your actions can make the difference between receiving a full settlement for your damages or receiving only a pittance for your injury.
The first thing you should do after an accident is to STOP.
Accidents happen to even the most careful drivers. Get control of your emotions. There is almost never a good excuse for leaving the scene of an accident.
Check and make sure that you and your passengers are okay, then see if anyone else is injured.
If there are injuries, call for an ambulance immediately. Don’t move anyone that is badly injured unless there is a danger for greater injury by leaving them where they are. If you are hurt and are not in grave danger, it is usually best to remain in your vehicle until medical help arrives.
Leave your car where it is.
Don’t move the car unless it is a clear liability case where you were rear ended. You should only move your car if it is blocking a busy road. When in doubt, leave your car where it is until the police tell you it is okay to move your car.
Call the police. Dial 911 and ask for help.
The police usually respond faster if there are injuries, or drugs or alcohol is involved. Go to the hospital for your injuries. Insurance companies love to say that you must not have been hurt because you waited a long time before you saw a doctor. Avoid this insurance trick by getting checked out as soon as possible after the crash.
Preserve any evidence, such as the identity of witnesses who may be able to help explain that the other driver was at fault.
Get the name, address, and insurance company of the other driver and the owner, if different from the driver. Tell the police what happened but do not give any statements to any other “investigators” of the other parties. There will be plenty of time to give statements later. Don’t give a recorded statement to anyone without speaking to an attorney first.
By following these few simple steps you can protect your rights.
Call an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.