4 Steps to Ensure Your Rights Are Protected After a Car Accident
Most of us sometime in our lives will be involved in a car accident. If you didn’t cause the accident, but instead were hit by someone else, you deserve to be compensated for the property damages to your vehicle as well as any injuries you may have suffered as a results of the motor vehicle collision.
Regardless whether the accident was a small fender-bender, or a more serious collision, those involved can be shaken up to the point where they’re not thinking clearly about how to protect themselves with the inevitable insurance claims process and possible lawsuit. It is however, important to remember these steps to take right after you’ve been in a car or other motor vehicle accident to ensure your health and rights are preserved and protected.
Car Accident Injuries Can Be Hidden
First, if the impact wasn’t severe you may not think you’ve been injured. But think again. Unfortunately, too many times car accident victims don’t seek medical attention right away and end up suffering later on because an injury from the collision; a strain/pulled muscle, torn ligament, or internal bruise, may not cause pain right away, only to manifest itself hours or days later causing real suffering. The first thing you want to do after a collision is examine yourself. If there are visible injuries, call 911 immediately. If not, then continue to monitor your health. If aches and pains begin hours later seek medical attention right away.
Taking Steps to Protect Your Rights
Second, assuming you’re physically o.k., then document the scene of the accident as thoroughly as possible. This is best done by:
- Calling the police. A police report will provide extra support to the facts that may become blurry to your memory as time goes on, and they are also strong evidence for insurance adjusters. Be careful however, it isn’t uncommon for the other person who caused the accident to try to persuade you from calling the police. Don’t listen. Even if there doesn’t appear to be much damage, call the police.
- Photograph the scene. Most all cell phones nowadays have digital cameras. Take lots of pictures of the scene of the accident. Specifically, take pictures of both vehicles; from a distance so the relationship of each vehicle to one another can be easily seen, as well as the specific damage to the vehicles – take pictures from multiple angles, and take pictures of the surrounding area to document the environment when the accident occurred. Also, take pictures of the license plate and vehicle VIN number of the other person’s car if you can.
- Talk to witnesses. If there are other people who witnessed the accident, try to get their names and phone numbers. These witnesses can be contacted later provide details and support to what actually occurred, and they can be more credible than those actually involved in the accident. Not all possible witnesses will want to give you their information, but at least try.
Repair Estimates Can Ensure the Job Is Done Right
Third, whether your vehicle is drive-able or not, get several repair estimates, three is best. Depending on who is paying for the repairs, they may require you to use on of their repair facilities. Be careful. Sometimes repair facilities that are contracted by insurance companies may attempt to cut corners on repairs to save their client (the insurance company) money. Review each estimate carefully to ensure each repair facility has really looked at your vehicle and considered all of the possible repair costs. Sometimes a vehicle can have damage that can’t be seen from the outside and may not become evident until the repair shop takes the car apart. When you have three good estimated that information will enable you to choose the best place to repair your vehicle.
Don’t Let Them Tread On You
Fourth, be persistent in dealing with your insurance company as well as the insurance company of the responsible party. While patience is always a good thing, don’t allow your insurance claim to go on for weeks and/or months. Remember, the accident wasn’t your fault, so your life shouldn’t be put on hold. If you feel your case is dragging on or you’re getting the run-around from the insurance company, you may want to contact an attorney that specializes in personal injury cases specific to car and other motor vehicle accidents. Sometimes a personal injury attorney can provide just the spark to expedite the resolution to your case.