Accidents are a part of life. Around every corner there are potential dangers, some of which might not seem dangerous at all. Some accidents are purely bad luck while others happen because of negligence or unsafe conditions.
The CDC reports that 130,557 deaths per year are a result of unintentional injuries. In other words, they occur because of an accident. This makes accidents the fourth most common cause of death in the U.S. Many others who live through an accident are hurt, disabled, disfigured or psychologically affected.
When an accident occurs, the first actions you take can determine how extensive an injury is and chart the course for what will come afterwards. Here’s what you should do to protect yourself.
Call 9-1-1 Immediately If Possible
If you are in the position to call for help, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Even if no one seems to be badly injured, medics and emergency personnel should still be called so they can fully access the situation.
Call the Police After a Car Accident
Whenever the accident involves a car, whether you’re a driver, a biker or a pedestrian, the police should be called to the scene. The police officer will create a formal accident report notating the situation, road conditions, behavior of the people involved, etc.
If Possible Take Pictures
Taking pictures of the scene is critical during a car accident, but it can also provide valuable evidence in any accident case. For example, if a product is defective take pictures of the item and any damage it created right after the accident.
Contact Your Insurance Company and Get The Other Party’s Insurance Information
If an accident happens on your property or you have a car accident, it should be reported to your insurance company immediately. You’ll also need to get the other party’s insurance information just in case they fail to report it.
Do Not Talk to the Other Party’s Insurance Company
The team at Heard Robins Cloud, LLP handles countless personal injury lawsuits every year. They note that the number one mistake many people make after an accident is talking to the other party’s insurance company before seeking counsel of their own.
The other party’s insurance company is looking out for their own best interest, not yours. They may seem very concerned and accommodating, but ultimately they are doing what they feel will benefit themselves or their clients the most in the long run. The insurance company will go to great lengths to try and play down their client’s liability and the injuries you have sustained.
Never Provide a Recorded or Written Statement Without an Attorney
You may also be pressured to provide written or recorded statements. Victims should never provide statements unless they have an attorney present to advise them. Even if the other party’s lawyer or insurance company say they just “want to talk” there’s a good chance what they are after is a statement that they can use against you. They are hoping you’ll unknowingly say something that will allow them to limit the money that will be awarded.
Never Give the Other Party Your Medical Records or Reports
Your medical records are private documents that do not have to be released. Insurance companies or the other party’s lawyer will often dig through a person’s medical records trying to pass off any injury as a pre-existing condition. If the other party’s attorney or insurance company is trying to coerce you into releasing medical records, you should contact your own attorney immediately.
Talk With an Attorney Before Accepting a Settlement
The experts at Heard Robins Cloud suggest that at the very least victims should have an attorney review any settlement offer that is made. An experienced injury attorney can help you accurately estimate how your injuries will affect you in the future so that you are adequately compensated. If you don’t have a lawyer, the other party’s insurance company will almost certainly lowball their settlement offer.
Don’t Let the Other Insurance Company Buy Your Car
One of your priorities is getting your car repaired after an accident. However, it’s not uncommon for the at-fault party’s insurance company to offer to purchase the other person’s car before it’s examined. They make the offer under the guise that it’s part of the property settlement. Your car is a vital part of the evidence that tells the story of what happened during the accident. Most likely your car will be crushed as soon as the insurance company purchases it.
Contact Your Insurance Company and Attorney Immediately If You Are Sued
Even if you weren’t at fault or both parties are equally to blame for an accident, there’s still a possibility that the other person will sue you. The other party will send what is called a complaint and summons. You should contact your insurance company immediately if a complaint and summons is received. You’ll need to make copies of the documents and send them to your insurance company. It’s also highly recommended that you contact an attorney for legal guidance. They can examine the evidence and help you prepare a case to defend yourself.
No one wants to experience a traumatic accident, but it’s a possibility that can happen at any time. Having knowledgeable people on your side can help ease the stress and burden so that you can focus on recovering. You’ll also be able to rest assured that someone is looking out for your best interest and making sure you receive the assistance you need to get life back to normal.