Here at Hastings & Hastings, we are intimately familiar with the accident world. Our firm has been defending the rights of accident victims for over 35 years. Our team of legal professionals has 150 years of combined legal experience. In short, we have seen a lot of accidents, and in that time, we have learned more than a thing or two.
Accidents are always tragic and often avoidable. Experiencing an accident is a shocking, traumatic, and stressful event. Unfortunately, the accident itself is often only the beginning of things. After an accident, you have to prepare to deal with law enforcement officers, insurance adjusters, mechanics, and the other individuals involved in the accident. Who among this long list of individuals have your best interests at heart? Navigating these choppy post-accident waters can seem nearly impossible, which is why Hastings & Hastings is here, ready to throw you a life raft with our post-accident survival guide.
As an accident victim, you have the right to compensation. Our post-accident survival guide will be one tool among many to help ensure that happens.
What to do at the Scene of the Accident
Your health, safety, and well-being should always be your number one priority at the scene of an accident. Before you do ANYTHING else, you should make sure you are okay. If you do not require any immediate emergency medical attention, then you can move on to the next steps of the post-accident survival guide.
Begin Documentation of the Accident Scene
Getting the most out of an accident claim typically comes down to three things: persistence, patience, and documentation. Unfortunately, without the proper documentation, the other two will not yet you very far. Documentation and strong evidence are key to winning a personal injury claim.
- Contact the Authorities: You should always contact the authorities following an accident, regardless of the severity. Other parties involved in the accident may attempt to tell you that there is no need to involve the authorities, but this is incorrect. A police report is an essential piece of documentation. It carries an immense amount of weight and authority in any accident proceedings. In fact, a clearly written police report may be THE BEST way to establish fault.
Ask the police for their name and badge number. Write these details down. Ask where you can obtain a copy of the accident report.
- Photograph the Scene of the Accident: In our modern world, almost everyone has a smartphone with a camera. This is a fantastic tool to use following an accident. Photographic evidence could play a key role in winning an accident case.
Take a wide and a narrow approach to photographing the accident. Start by taking multiple pictures, from multiple angles, of the accident scene as a whole. You want to be able to paint a clear picture of what happened at the accident scene.
Pictures of skid marks, stop signs, traffic lights, crosswalks, or anything else could help in establishing liability and fault. You should also take pictures of the individual vehicles and the damage they sustained. Accident professionals can often tell the story of an accident using just these details.
- Speak with Witnesses: When it comes to documentation, more is always better. Redundancies in documentation will only serve to support your argument and strengthen your position. As part of obtaining additional documentation, speak with witnesses at the scene of the accident. Ask them what they saw. Write down their names and their contact information.
- Write down Specific Details: For your own documentation, write down as many details as you can. Relevant details include the make and model of each vehicle involve as well as their license plate numbers. When speaking to other individuals involved in the accident ask for their name, driver’s license number and insurance ID card.
As an important caution:Avoid immediately contacting insurance providers. Especially avoid making any statements on the record. Your next step is to seek medical attention. You may also wish to consider hiring a lawyer.
After the Accident
The accident is over, you don’t seem to have any major injuries, and you have properly documented the accident scene, now what to do you?
Seek Medical Attention
It is important to seek medical attention if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, even if you do not believe you have been severely injured. Following a car accident, your body will be full of adrenaline. Adrenaline has the ability to mask pain, which could cause you to overlook injuries you did in fact sustain. Some injuries, such as soft tissue injuries, may take several days to manifest. For this reason, you MUST see a medical professional.
Mitigation of Damages: This is an important term to become familiar with. It is also one of the reasons you need to seek medical attention even if you do not initially believe you are injured badly enough to see a doctor. If you do not receive medical attention and your condition worsens, insurance providers may attempt to claim you did not do everything to could to fully mitigate your damages. This means you could have lessened the severity of your condition, if you had sought out medical attention. Going to the doctor right after the accident will help you prevent this from happening.
Document Everything: Again, documentation is very important. Make sure you save medical bills, treatment records, doctor’s notes, and prescription records.
Assessing Property Damage
Insurance providers typically have body shops, garages, and dealerships they work closely with. They will tell you to bring your vehicle into one of their partners for an estimate. You should begin collecting multiple independent estimates on your own.
Compare your independent estimate to the one provided by their partners. If it dramatically different, attain more estimates. If you have 3-4 estimates that report a dramatically different number than that provided by the insurance provider’s partner, you will have a powerful argument supporting your larger estimate.
Never feel pressured to give into the insurance adjuster’s first offer.
Consider Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
As you can see, it is not easy to swim through these murky post-accident waters. You are going to be swimming with the sharks.
Hiring a personal injury attorney can make this entire process much easier. It will also help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. At Hastings & Hastings, we take a personal approach to personal injury. We keep you closely informed regarding the status of your case, while not bothering you with all the behind the scenes complexities.
We also offer free, no obligation consultations. If you are ready to learn about your rights as an accident victim contact us at: (480)706-1100