If you have been involved in a
the first thing you should do is call the police. Having the police record all the information and fill out an accident
report is the surest way of memorializing all of the events and testimony
of the parties involved in the accident. It is the type of documentary
evidence that is most acceptable to the courts and the insurance company
when it comes to the facts of the accident.
If you have been hurt, or even if you feel fine,
seek medical help. If paramedics arrive at the scene, allow them to do their job and treat
you. Some injuries do not manifest themselves for weeks after an impact,
such as soft tissue injuries of the neck and back. Allow the medical personnel
to do their work. If you are told to get treatment for some condition
or injury, follow through with the treatment. The records produced will
be necessary in establishing a claim for medical expenses or, if you are
injured, for a claim for your personal injury.
Then call your insurance company as soon as you can after the accident, preferably within 24 hours. Call
the emergency number listed on the face or the back of your insurance
coverage card and notify them of the accident. Take photographs of the
scene and the vehicles involved if you are able to walk around. Use your
cell phone camera or a separate camera, but try and document all angles
of view. Do the best you can, as these photos may be the only photos taken
of the scene. Assess the damage to you. You may have physical damage to
your vehicle, personal injuries, lost time and wages from work, and medical
bills. At this point, if you do not seek the assistance of an attorney,
file an accident claim with your insurance company. You may discover that
the other parties involved in the accident have already filed a claim
with their own insurance company. Follow through with the instructions
given to you by your insurance company, and regularly follow up with your
insurance company contact person to see how the claim is progressing.
The insurance company may seek to settle your claim very quickly. If that
is the case, be careful not to jump at the first offer and sign away your
rights by signing a release of claim. Review the offer of settlement carefully,
and if possible, with the help of an
experienced personal injury attorney who is familiar with the methods of the insurers' settlement procedures.
Once the release is signed and you accept the offer of settlement, you
cannot go back and have that renegotiated.
If you have any questions, or wish to speak with one of our personal injury
attorneys who are familiar with the settlement and claim procedures of
automobile insurance adjustors,
contact our offices at Ward Smith, PLLC.