We have all heard it before: “Accidents happen all the time.”
While this may be a cliche, it remains all too true. Accidents happen quite often, especially on the road with people always traveling to get somewhere at any given time.
In fact, here in Alabama, fatalities from traffic accidents increased nearly a quarter from 2015 to 2016, according to a study by researchers at The University of Alabama.
There was a 24.6 percent increase in deaths from traffic crashes and the total number of traffic collisions increased by 2.1 percent.
So, with the occurrence of accidents very much a thing, the next important question for motorists is, “What do I do following my accident?”
There are a handful of necessary steps to take in order to put yourself in the best position following a motor vehicle accident. After first seeking any necessary medical treatment, the following are what you should do following a car accident:
- Call the police – this is an extremely important first step. A lot of people feel it is in their best interest to forgo involving the police if the accident does not look to be too serious. The truth is you do not know the true extent of the damage so documenting the accident immediately is extremely important. In addition, your insurance policy and the law may require you to contact the police. Calling the police can help in keeping others in the area safe and bringing emergency medical services to the crash site can help with assessing injuries of those involved.
- Gather necessary information – If you are not hurt badly and are physically able, you should collect information from the other motorist(s) involved in the accident as well as any witnesses. You should ask for their name, address, and vehicle and insurance information. It is a good idea to write this stuff and down and/or take a photo with your phone. If you can get a recount of what happened from any witnesses it would helpful, seeing as memory fades over time, and later on down the road it may be too late. You or a loved one should also take the time to photograph the accident scene, damages, positions of vehicles and anything related to the accident. The investigating officer will gather much of this information also and you should obey the instructions of any law enforcement officer at the scene.
- See a doctor – Sometimes immediate medical attention is not necessary but this does not mean you should not get checked by a doctor or medical professional as soon as possible. Often during accidents your adrenaline keeps you from feeling the full effects of what just happened. This can mask any internal or external injuries. In addition, many injuries, especially back and neck injuries, may not appear until several days after the accident. Seeing a doctor make sure that you receive necessary health care and puts on record that you sought medical treatment because of the accident. Unfortunately, many insurance adjusters often are suspicious of injury victims that do not seek immediate treatment.
- Notify insurance company – Notify your insurance company when you are in an accident. Also, make sure that you cooperate with their investigation and provide information that they request. You also likely will be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. When dealing with either insurance company, do not guess or give opinions. Stick to the facts that they ask you for.
- Get a copy of the accident report – Contact the law enforcement agency that investigated your accident and get a copy of the report.
- Contact an accident attorney – Many people choose to believe that they do not need an attorney and many end up changing their mind. The process of dealing with insurers and continuously filling out paperwork is tedious and frustrating. In addition, insurance adjusters often will try to get you to accept a quick, small settlement and will discourage you from getting an attorney. To make matters worse, health insurers and payors such as Blue Cross, Medicare, and Medicaid usually have liens for medical care resulting from the accident that they have had to pay. If you settle your case, you usually will be required to reimburse these amounts out of any money that you recover. The failure to do so may be a violation of the law. Finally, claims have time limits on when they must be filed with the Court. The failure to file them in time can result in a dismissal of your case. An accident attorney can help you avoid these traps, recover the compensation you deserve, and resolve any outstanding healthcare liens so that you can move forward with your life.
The accident attorneys at Johnstone Carroll, LLC, are experienced and ready to help you with your claim. They offer a free initial consultation so do not waste another second. Contact us today at 205.509.1226 to begin discussing your case.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.