I've Been in a Car Accident! What Now?
Getting into a car accident is always stressful, even if the accident is relatively minor. Beyond the accident itself, dealing with getting your vehicle repaired and obtaining treatment for any injuries you may have can seem overwhelming. An attorney can help. An attorney can make sure you receive the treatment and compensation you deserve. Additionally, an attorney can clarify the process for you. Attorneys can explain what you are entitled to, and can help you navigate the procedure of obtaining compensation.
When you first get into an accident, it is crucial to take a couple of steps. The first of these steps is to obtain the other driver's name and insurance information. Regardless of who is at fault in the accident, it is critical that you be able to give your attorney as much information as possible about the other driver. Furthermore, since most settlements received as the result of traffic accidents are not paid by the drivers personally, but rather by their insurance companies, knowing the other driver's insurance information allows your attorney to contact their adjuster immediately and begin working on your claim immediately.
Another key step is contacting the police and completing an accident report. These reports are invaluable evidence of the details of your accident. First, these reports provide contact information for both drivers, as well as for any witnesses to the accident. This information is necessary for attorneys to fully investigate and pursue your claim. Second, police reports provide crucial details that can become fuzzy in your memory over time. Police reports include concrete descriptions of where the accidents occurred, what both parties say happened, and detailed statements of eye-witnesses, if any. By preserving these facts, you make it easier for an attorney to pursue your claim. If you have been injured in an accident, you will bear the burden of proving that your injury occurred and of proving that the injury was caused by someone else. Preserving recorded details through a police report gives you and your attorney more evidence to use for this proof.
Once you contact your attorney, there are a few things to remember. First, be honest with your attorney. An attorney is first and foremost your advocate, but it is very difficult to represent someone with inaccurate or incomplete facts. Even if you believe that some of the details of your case are detrimental to you, it is important to tell your attorney about them so that they can prepare a strategy for handling that part of your claim. Another important thing to remember is that our legal system's primary goal is promoting justice and fairness. You should not look at an auto accident claim as an “easy paycheck.” Frivolous cases are almost never successful. Rather, claims in these situations should be pursued to compensate you for legitimate property damage and personal injuries you have suffered. If you have unrealistic expectations for your claim, you will inevitably be disappointed. Finally, cooperate with your attorney. Pursuing a claim for personal injuries involves a lot of work, not just by your attorney, but also by you. Responding to your attorneys requests quickly helps to move your claim along, bringing you closer to settlement.