So You Were Involved in a Car Accident. Here are the Next 5 Steps You Should Take.

1. If you haven’t already done so, seek medical treatment immediately.

Before you do anything else, it is absolutely crucial for the future of your case that you get your injuries treated as soon as possible. Even if your injury is minor, and even if you’re concerned about the cost of medical bills, not receiving treatment right away can likely ruin your chance of winning an acceptable settlement.

If you wait a while to receive medical care for your injuries, or you don’t get them treated at all, then the other driver’s attorney can use that against you. They could argue that you didn’t seek treatment because your injuries were insignificant and do not need compensation, or, if you wait long enough for treatment, that your injuries occurred somewhere other than the accident.

2. Document as much as you can.

Obtaining as much evidence from the crash as you can will be immensely helpful for you and your lawyer as your case proceeds. Your attorney will help you with some of the finer details, but the more information you can collect about your case, the more likely you are to receive a satisfactory settlement amount for your damages.

Was there a stop sign at the scene that wasn’t visible because of a hill? Were the roads slippery because of ice? These details from the scene are especially important to obtain quickly, and the longer you wait to obtain them, the harder it will be to use them as evidence against the other driver.

Here are some of the crucial details you should take note of for your case:

  • Photos or video taken at the scene

  • Contact information from witnesses

  • A recount of events from any other passengers involved in the accident

  • Contact information from the officer who completed the police report
  • Medical records

  • Phone records

  • Details from the scene (road hazards, weather conditions, obscured signs, etc)

  • Information about the trucking company involved, if the other party is a trucker
3. Get in contact with your auto insurance.

Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you’ll still need to let your insurance provider know what happened so it can help you through your case. Your insurance provider will be your ally after a car accident, and it should help you fight to earn a fair compensation from the other driver’s insurer. If you live in a no-fault state, you will be obligated to contact your insurance after the accident so you can be reimbursed for your personal damages.

4. Check your state’s auto insurance laws.

Before you try to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance provider, you should double-check the auto insurance law your state follows to make sure that you will have a viable case. Most states use some variation of the “at-fault” system, which lets injured drivers file a claim for damages against the other driver’s insurance provider.

However, 12 states currently use an alternative auto insurance system called “no-fault insurance,” which is also commonly referred to as personal injury protection (PIP).

  • Florida

  • Hawaii

  • Kansas

  • Kentucky*

  • Massachusetts

  • Michigan
  • Minnesota

  • New Jersey*

  • New York

  • North Dakota

  • Pennsylvania*

  • Utah

*These states require PIP coverage, but drivers can opt out of the “no-fault” system and regain some ability to sue.

PIP requires drivers to seek compensation for their damages from their own insurance company instead of the other driver’s provider. This means that, in states that exclusively use “no-fault insurance,” injured drivers are prohibited from filing a claim against the other driver. It’s also much harder to file a lawsuit against the other driver, but most of the states listed above will make an exception for drivers that sustain what is considered a “serious injury.” 

Three other states— Delaware, Maryland, and Oregon— also require drivers to enroll in PIP coverage. However, these are “at-fault” states and not “no-fault” states, so you are still permitted to file a claim as normal against the other driver’s insurance provider if you live in any of these three places.

5. Contact a car accident lawyer, and don’t tell the other driver’s insurance anything about the accident.

The opposing party’s insurance provider has no interest in helping you, even if the other driver was the one responsible for the accident. In fact, their insurance company can (and will) use anything you say against you in order to lessen or eliminate any potential damages they might owe. If you get a call from a representative from the other driver’s insurance provider, they may attempt to convince you to downplay your injuries, admit to partial fault for the accident, or even accept a settlement that may sound nice on paper, but is actually worth way less than the amount they would owe if they were found liable in court. 

The good news? You don’t owe them any information whatsoever, no matter how much the representative on the line may try to intimidate you into oversharing. The best thing you can do if the other driver’s insurance company calls you is to reveal as little information as possible. Before you ever give information to the other party’s insurance provider, you should find a suitable auto injury lawyer to help you not get taken advantage of by corporate self-interest.

Looking for a car accident lawyer to help you receive a fair settlement? Let our team help you fight for fair compensation and see if you qualify for a free case review today.