It’s almost an unavoidable part of life: getting into a car crash. The car insurance industry estimates that the average driver will file a collision claim about once every 18 years. Whether you or a loved one were involved in a minor fender bender – and certainly a fatal crash – a motor vehicle crash is guaranteed to be a frightening and stressful time in your life.
The silver lining is there are laws to protect you and help you get the compensation you need to repair property damage and recover from injuries.
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums has a proven record of helping car crash victims get the maximum compensation possible for their claim. Recent motor vehicle crash victims should consider legal representation to relieve them of the claims process hassle and to help ensure they get the full compensation they deserve.
How the Car Crash Claims Process Works
The claims process can be a frustrating mess to successfully navigate. Insurance companies have a bevy of tactics to minimize or avoid payouts on legitimate claims. To help guide you through this complex process, below are tips on what to do and what not to do after a crash.
It cannot be stressed enough that you should seek immediate medical attention after any car crash involving an injury or suspected injury. This is for both the benefit of your health and for strengthening any claim you file against the other party.
Remember, not all injuries show up right away. For example, whiplash – a neck injury often painful and debilitating – can take awhile to surface. Without getting medical attention as soon as possible after the crash, you could be compromising your health and end up with worsening symptoms. In the meantime, you will also be making it harder to prove the injury was connected to the crash, thereby making it more difficult to receive compensation.
If possible, after a crash, you should also:
- File a police report;
- Take photos of any vehicle damage;
- Take photos of the crash scene;
- Take photos of your injuries; and
- Write down the details of the crash while they are fresh in your mind;
- Get any witnesses’ personal information;
- Review your auto insurance policy, so you know what is covered;
- Track all medical visits;
- Log how you feel and your recovery progress; and
- Track all work you missed due to the injury.
People often put too much trust into insurance agencies. These big-money businesses have agents who have been specially trained in tactics to convince victims to accept the lowest settlement amount possible. They also have an extensive team of attorneys to unearth any evidence to de-legitimize a claim, or convince claimants against pursuing their full legal rights.
With that in mind, these are things to avoid after a car crash:
- Never admit to fault at the scene of the crash – this includes saying “sorry” since it implies guilt;
- Never discuss your crash with anyone besides the police, your insurer, or your lawyer;
- Never throw out damaged vehicle parts, bloody clothing, or anything else that could be used as evidence;
- Do not sign a medical waiver without first consulting an attorney; and
- Do not agree to a settlement without first consulting an attorney.
Reporting a Car Accident as Soon as You Can
It is a good idea to report the crash to your insurance carrier as soon as possible. This way you can get the claims process started without delay. Before you call, have the following information ready:
- Your policy number
- Date and time of the crash
- Description of the crash
- Witnesses information
- Damage to your vehicle
- Injuries to you or passengers
- The police report, if available
In addition to filing a claim with your insurance agency, in certain instances you may need to report the crash to the government. By state law, you will need to file an SR-31 form with Driver License Division of the Department of Public Safety after any crash involving personal injury or at least $500 in property damages, if the at-fault driver is uninsured.
Getting a Police Report
One of the most valuable pieces of evidence in establishing fault in a crash and supporting your claim is the police report. Police are usually only called to a crash scene if someone has sustained an injury. Anytime the police arrive on the scene, a police report will be issued.
If the police were not called to the crash, you can file a police report at your local police station.
How an Attorney Can Help with Your Car Crash Claim
An experienced car crash attorney is your biggest ally following a crash. They can take the burden of gathering the necessary evidence off your shoulders, so you can focus on healing. Building your case may include:
- Ordering police reports
- Collecting and reviewing medical documents
- Gathering medical bills and other expenses related to your crash
- Securing statements and other witness testimony
- Collaborating with medical experts and other technical professionals
By putting together these documents, a car crash attorney can demonstrate that your injuries and property damage were directly connected to the crash. A complete summary with evidence to support it helps an attorney determine and prove the upper limit of the compensation you are owed. Without an attorney, you are taking a chance in not recovering the full amount you are due, and possibly not recovering any money at all.
Our Attorneys Are on Your Side
Pittman, Dutton & Hellums has been winning favorable settlements and verdicts for car crash victims for years. We know all the ins-and-outs in building an airtight case that can get you the full compensation you are due. Let us take over the legalities of your car crash claim, so you can concentrate on getting better as quickly as possible. Contact us today for your free, no-obligation case evaluation.