Getting into an auto accident is one of the most stressful situations that any individual can go through. Not only do you have to deal with the mess of damages to your property, you also have to worry about potential injuries that result in medical bills and potentially, rehabilitation. You also have to worry about lost time from work, lost earnings and serious financial stress.
Of course, auto accidents are also known to cause mental strain on people who may experience emotional trauma afterwards. It is vital that every person who is involved in an auto accident take all the right steps after it occurs to protect themselves. The way you handle this situation can have a tremendous effect on the outcome.
At Kuzyk Law, we know that auto accidents can leave lasting marks on you, as both physical injury and emotional damage. That is why we believe that you can protect yourself by taking the necessary steps when an accident occurs. Here are the 7 most crucial steps that you should take following an auto accident:
1. Call the police
Having an authoritative and objective figure at the site of the accident is a great way to ensure that it will be documented correctly. You should keep in mind that the more cooperative you are with them, the more helpful they can be for you.
But be careful with what you say.
Do not give more than just the facts about the accident. Many times, people chime in with their opinions, and that does nothing for your case. The facts are what the officers will use, so stick to that throughout your entire interview with them.
And of course, never admit fault. The moment that you admit fault is when the officer will note it on the accident report, and it will be submitted as such to insurance companies, who will always try to find a way to avoid paying you. Placing you at fault is one way they do that.
Immediately after an auto accident, everything is stressful and emotions are all over the place. You may not even know for certain that the accident was yours or the other driver’s fault, so don’t automatically assume it was yours. It is best to just let the officers and your legal team determine that later as they begin their work and investigation.
2. Exchange information with the other driver
Assuming the other driver is cooperative, you will both want to exchange pertinent information so that you can protect yourselves. The most important pieces of information you want to gather from the other party include:
- First, middle and last name
- Phone number and home address
- Their vehicle year, make, model and license plate (and VIN if they can provide it)
- Their insurance company and contact info
- Photos of damages to both your vehicle and theirs
Having this information is essential to putting in a claim with your insurance provider and ensuring its timely processing.
3. Fill out appropriate paperwork
Aside from the accident report that you have filled out with the police officers, it is always a good idea to have an accident facts form on hand. This form helps guide you during an information collection process. Because accidents can be stressful to deal with, you may not always be handling or recalling everything in a practical way. The fact form can help you organize important information that is essential to going over your case later, and will remind you what information to try to obtain. The questions are very similar to that of an accident report. We provide you with one that you can conveniently keep stored in your glove box, so you always have it on hand when unfortunate events occur.
4. Contact your insurance company
The other party involved in the process is your insurance company. Contacting them right away helps them get the ball rolling to note the incident and prepare to pay for any potential damages.
Dealing with an insurance company can be stressful for any customer. This is a good reason to contact Kuzyk Law as soon as possible after your accident — you can actually have one of our personal injury lawyers contact your insurance company for you and file the claim on your behalf. We are able to provide them with all the information and documentation they need to start filing your claim. While we do the hard part, you will be able to take the time to recover. This has the advantage of reducing the chance that you might say something to the insurance company that you may later regret.
5. Make an appointment for a check-up
You may not feel injured at the time of the incident, but it does not mean that you could not potentially have been injured during the process. One injury that auto accident victims tend to sustained is whiplash, and this is an injury that tends to manifest over time. Due to adrenaline and other factors, many people may not feel the effects of auto accidents in the moment or in the immediate aftermath. It is strongly advised that you make an appointment with a doctor to get a general check-up as soon as possible. This way, they can check for any injuries you may have sustained, but were not aware of at the time of the accident. Injuries from accidents are considered as part of damages. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Don’t wake up a few weeks later with back pain you didn’t report. The case may have been settled by that point, and then you will have to deal with this injury out of your own pocket.
6. Do NOT sign anything
The first thing that opposing insurance companies will always want you to do, following a claim, is to settle with you for a lowball amount before you hire an injury attorney who will know the true value of the case. And, all of these settlements will typically only pay for the bare minimum amount they can get away with.
Never allow them to push you into a corner and pressure you into signing anything. You want to be sure that you go over every document before you sign something that you can potentially regret later on.
This is another reason to contact Kuzyk Law. Insurance documents are intentionally long and confusing; we have experience with all the tricks they play and can help you navigate their contracts. Call us before signing a single thing.
7. Consult with legal counsel
Every person has the legal right to an auto accident attorney. Attorneys are trained individuals who will protect your legal rights and guide you in the right direction when dealing with an auto accident claim. Attorneys at Kuzyk Law know what you are entitled to as an auto accident victim. They will not allow big insurance companies to bully you into settling for low amounts. They will fight in your corner, and provide you with the best legal advice to help you move forward and put the accident behind you.
Auto accidents can have significant effects on all people involved. As difficult as it may be, you must follow specific protocol to ensure that you safeguard yourself. This involves following these 7 tips if you want to see any success with your claim.
Kuzyk Law is dedicated to fighting by your side. Reach out to us today! (661) 945-6969.