After being involved in a car accident, you may be shaken up and not in your normal state of mind. However, what you do after a car accident is absolutely critical. Follow these steps to make the unpleasant experience go as smoothly as possible.
1. Health first – take care of any injuries to yourself or others
Treating any injuries that you or others may have sustained is always the first thing you should do in the event of an accident, even if that means going straight to the hospital. If you are unable to perform the rest of the steps due to health concerns, try to make sure the police, a friend, or a relative are present or on their way before you leave the scene.
2. Get the police to the scene
It is important that you call the police to the scene. The police will collect statements from the parties involved, including key witnesses. The police will then construct a police report based on the facts that they gather. This report will then be used by insurance companies to determine the liability of each driver. This is why getting the police to the scene is so critical. In the city of Cleveland and in many Cleveland suburbs, police reports are automatically posted on the internet within a few days after the accident.
3. Take lots of photographs
It is important that you take as many photographs as you can of the accident scene. Make sure you take photographs of the damage to BOTH vehicles, any skid marks on the pavement, as well as the direction of glass or other car parts on the road. All of these photographs will help insurance companies determine the cause of the accident and assign liability for the accident. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words (and sometimes thousands of dollars which will either be coming into your pocket or going out of it).
4. Get the contact information of witnesses
It is important to get the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Insurance companies are more likely to believe an uninvolved third party than the two biased drivers when it comes to recapping the accident and assigning liability.
5. Exchange insurance information
Exchanging insurance information is an extremely important thing to do after getting into an accident. If you do not get the other person’s insurance information, you may be left paying out of your own pocket for the damages – even if the other driver was at fault.
6. Protect your rights
People often don’t realize: an insurance adjuster is never, ever on your side. Adjusters are trained to seem pleasant and talk as though they are trying to help you, but in fact their one single goal is to settle your claim for as little as possible. Adjusters often get bonuses at the end of the year based on how much money they save the company by paying out as little in claim money possible. I often tell people: don’t even talk to the adjuster until you speak with an attorney.
Also, you can bet that the other driver’s insurance company will want you to give them a recorded statement over the telephone or in person regarding the facts of the accident and any subsequent medical care. Although you usually do not legally have to give a recorded statement, sometimes it is in your best interest to give it depending on the facts of the case. Other times giving a recorded statement would be a huge mistake and could end up killing your case.
If you have questions about any of the legal issues raised in this blog, contact Dodosh Law Offices, LLC at (440) 298-2344. Or, you can fill out a contact form and Attorney Dodosh will get in touch with you.