A car accident injury can be catastrophic. Thousands of people get seriously injured in auto accidents every year in the US. Getting treatment for these injuries can create financial difficulties for the injured victim.
On top of the injuries sustained the cost of repairing the vehicle after a car accident adds to the financial problems at hand. So how does one go about paying for these expenses? Your best bet is to claim compensation for damages from the at-fault driver. The Insurance Information Institute (III) has suggested the following steps that you should take after a car accident to set up claims after an auto accident.
1. Get Medical Help
The first thing you need to do after a car accident is to request medical help. You should call 911 or ask another person to make the call for you. Try not to move, if seriously injured, and wait for the medical help to arrive.
You should call for medical help even if you don’t feel that the injury is not serious. Some injuries take time to become evident. For instance, symptoms of brain and spinal cord injuries may take weeks to become apparent. Getting immediate medical attention will also have a positive impact on your personal injury claim case.
2. Ensure Your Safety
Get to the sidewalk if you are able to walk. Moreover, you should park your car on the side of the road if it is safe to drive. This will prevent your car from being a hazard on the road.
Once you have parked your car in a safe location, you should turn on the hazard lights and switch off the engine. You can also use road flares to warn other drivers to slow down when approaching the vehicle.
3. Answer Any Questions
The responding police officer may ask you to fill a form regarding the car accident. Make sure to honestly answer all the questions asked by the police officer. But don’t make any statements that will implicate you in any way. It is for the opposing party’s attorney and insurance agents to determine the cause of the accident.
In case the police officer cannot come to the scene, you should ask someone to go to the police station to file an accident report if you are seriously injured. The III recommends going to the nearest police station to inform about the accident and create a police accident report.
4. Get Contact Details of Witnesses
Another important step that you need to take after an accident is to exchange information with any potential witnesses. You should exchange information with the at-fault driver as well. According to the Insurance Information Institute, drivers should collect the following information.
- Contact Information and full name
- Car make and model
- Color of car
- License plate number
- Driving license number
At this point, you should not discuss the details of the accident with the other driver. This is important as your words can be used against you when determining the fault of the accident.
5. Gather Documentary Evidence
You should keep a record of all documents. Your attorney or the insurance adjuster will ask you to present documents such as a police officer report and photos of the accident scene.
You should also note down the name and badge number of the officers that arrive at the accident scene. Request for a copy of the police report as you will have to present it when you file a compensation claim.
In addition, you should also note down the passengers and all other parties involved in the auto accident. In case there are witnesses, you will have to note down their names as well.
6. Know About Time Limit for Submitting a Claim
You should know the time limit for submitting a compensation claim. This is critical you will lose your right to compensation if you don’t file the claim within the specified limit. You cannot claim compensation for medical bills or vehicle repair costs if you don’t submit the claim on time.
Remember that the time limit for submitting a claim may be different for each type of claim. The limit for filing a claim for vehicle damage may be different than the limit for personal injury claims. Moreover, it may also be different in each state. Knowing about the prescribed time limit will ensure that you don’t lose your right to compensation.
7. Get an Estimate for Repairs
Before submitting a claim, you need to get an accurate estimate of the cost of car repairs. You should find out the cost of both labor and parts in repairing the vehicle. The repair shop you will take your vehicle to should physically inspect the damage and prepare a detailed report. You need to submit this report along with the compensation claim.
You need to select the auto repair shop carefully. Make sure that the repair shop uses original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts in repairing the vehicle. Using after-market parts may save costs but problems will reappear after a few months. Another important thing to keep in mind is that the OEM part should be new. You should make sure that the auto repair shop will not replace faulty parts with used OEM parts.
Auto accidents can involve a lot of costs. The medical bills and the repair cost can put a strain on your finances. Fortunately, you can submit a claim for all the costs incurred in the auto accident. The compensation amount will greatly reduce the financial burden due to the auto accident.
You also need to hire a professional auto accident attorney to ensure that the auto accident compensation claim process goes as smoothly as possible. An experienced car accident lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to get the maximum possible compensation.
An attorney will also help you get compensation for non-economic damages from the guilty party. If you have any questions regarding the claim process, you can ask your attorney to provide you with expert advice. You will know the exact steps you can take to recover fair compensation from the driver responsible for the accident.