What should I do after a car accident?
If you drive long enough chances are you will one day be involved in a car accident. Many drivers are not sure what steps they should take immediately following a car accident or whether or not they should talk to the insurance company and accept a settlement offer.
So what are the first steps you should take following a car accident?
- Make sure every driver is okay. If there are serious injuries, an ambulance should be called immediately.
- Make sure you get information from each driver involved in the accident including their names, addresses, phone numbers, registration numbers and insurance company.
- Make sure you get a description of each car, include the year, make, model, color and damage sustained.
- Write a detailed description of how the accident occurred. If you have a camera, take pictures.
- Do not claim responsibility and do not blame any other driver.
- Get information from any witnesses who may have information about the accident. Make sure to get their names and phone numbers.
- Call the police and make sure a police report is filed.
- Report to your insurance company as soon as possible.
- Do not accept any settlement offers until you have talked to a lawyer.
Some drivers assume if they are injured from the negligent actions of another driver they automatically can file a car accident lawsuit, but car accident laws vary by state. Some states have passed no-fault injury laws. Other states have not. If you live in a state with no-fault laws you may have forfeited your right to file an injury claim unless the cost of your injuries or the severity of your injuries reaches a certain level.
Other states, however, allow drivers to file car accident injury claims without restrictions. If you live in a state which allows you to file a car accident lawsuit, filing a claim may or may not be necessary. If you have suffered minor injuries and the insurance company is negotiating in good faith, many times the insurance settlement offer will be sufficient to cover you for your financial losses.
But what do you do if you have been severely injured and you have a dispute with your insurance company or the other driver's insurance company is refusing to pay enough to cover the costs of your injuries? It may be time to talk to a car accident lawyer. They can explain the laws of your state and help you determine if you have the right to file an injury claim. Remember, there are statutes of limitations for filing all accident claims in every state.
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A judgment can be enforced but you will have to take the initiative and the proper legal steps.
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