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Personal Injury : Auto Accident l Wrongful Death l Slip and Fall

Automobile Accidents  

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The time after an accident is a hectic and unsettling time, but we are here to help get you back to normal as quickly as possible. Here, we have provided some important information on how to handle an automobile accident at the scene, when you get home, and if you have any injuries.

If you've been in an automobile accident and want to hire an experienced lawyer who will be a strong advocate and help you get the recovery you deserve, contact our office today.

What to do at the scene of an accident:

(1) Remain calm. After an accident, you may feel shock, guilt, fear, nervousness, or anger, which are all normal. Just take a few deep breaths and try your best to remain calm. The calmer you are, the better prepared you will be to handle the situation. It is important to remain clear-minded about your surroundings.

(2) Keep yourself and others safe. If you can't get out of your car or it seems unsafe to try, keep your seat belt fastened, and turn on your hazard lights. If you can drive your car and are in an unsafe spot or are blocking traffic, find a safe and legal place to park your car (like the shoulder of a highway or a parking lot).

(3) Always call the police. Even if the collision seems minor, call 911 and wait for help to arrive. If it is safe to move around your vehicle, turn off your car and use your emergency kit to set up orange cones, warning triangles, or emergency flares around the crash site.

(4) Stay at the scene. Stay at the scene of the accident until the police have come and gone. Be sure to get the name(s) of the officer(s) and tell them your version of what happened. While you should be calm and polite, be sure not to tell the other driver or the police that you think the accident was your fault. Never accept monetary compensation at the scene or discuss the specifics of the accident with anyone except police, your lawyer, or your insurance agent.

 (5) Document the accident. Don't assume that a police report will include all of the information about the accident you might need later. Do your best to document the accident yourself. Take photographs of the accident scene including your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. It is a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your glove box for this purpose. You should also keep your auto insurance information in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Exchange names, addresses, and driver's license and insurance information with the other driver.

What to do when you get home:

(1) Familiarize yourself with your insurance policy. Review your insurance policy and make a list of any questions you may have or information you may want to know. Check the back of your policy for the "conditions." This will tell you what you are supposed to do in the event of an accident. The requirements are usually straightforward and it is important to follow these instructions carefully because you may forfeit some of your rights if you do not.

Next, look at the "declarations" page, which is usually the cover sheet of your policy. This lists the types and dollar limits of your coverage.

Finally, read the insuring agreement itself, which explains what your insurer will protect you against, including definitions of terms used and explanations of what is not covered ("exclusions"). You should educate yourself about your rights by familiarizing yourself with your insurance policy.

(2) Hire a lawyer. Now you must consider whether you want to hire a lawyer to help you deal with your own insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver. If you have been injured, it is always best to discuss your possible courses of action with a personal injury attorney before discussing your accident with anyone, even your insurance company. Even if you have not been injured, you should consider whether you want to hire an attorney to help you understand your rights and obligations under your insurance policy and to deal with the insurance companies for you. If you decide to hire a lawyer to represent your interests, it is best to discuss your situation with your lawyer before you answer any questions from your insurance company or the other driver's insurance company regarding the accident.

(3) Report the accident to your insurance company. While it may not seem necessary, the accident may be minor, or you may not want to risk your rate rising, it is important that you report the accident to your insurance company. While you may think that no-fault insurance relieves your liability for the other driver's medical expenses, it does not. Also, the other driver's insurance company will contact your insurance company if it believes you were at fault in the accident, and it is important that your insurance company is informed and has had a chance to hear your side of the story. If you have retained an attorney, he or she will handle communications with your insurance company. You should avoid personally discussing your accident with any insurance company if you have hired a lawyer to represent you. Simply give the insurance agent your attorney's name and tell them to contact your attorney with any questions.

If you have been injured:

(1) Contact a lawyer. If you've been injured in your car accident, the first thing you should do is contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you deal with your insurance company and the other driver's insurance company. Your lawyer will help guide you through your legal rights and will help you file a lawsuit should you choose to do so. When you attempt to handle a personal injury lawsuit without an attorney, you are outgunned from the beginning. Insurance companies are used to going to court and they have the resources to drag out your lawsuit for a long time. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney levels the playing field and ensures that you receive the most compensation for your injuries.

(2) Keep accurate records. Keep your copy of the police report, document any interaction with your insurance agency or lawyer, keep receipts from any towing or car rental companies, keep all medical bills and records, and keep track of any wages you have lost due to the accident. It is very helpful in the long run to have all of your records in one place, especially if you may want to file a lawsuit.

(3) Listen to your doctor. If you see a doctor who recommends a course of action which requires you to visit them multiple times, make sure to keep those appointments, and keep the records of your visits. Sometimes an injury will take time to manifest as the body recovers from the initial shock of a car accident. Follow your doctor's advice.

(4) Keep a journal. Use a calendar or notebook to keep notes about your injuries over time. Take note of your physical limitations and any pain or soreness you're experiencing. Be specific, including the location and severity of the pain and when it occurs.

(5) Don't over-exert yourself. Don't try to do too much too soon after your accident. It is best to give your body some time to recover before attempting physical activities.