Car accidents can happen to anyone, no matter how good of a driver you are. It might have been your fault. You were distracted by a text that you just had to look at. The road was clear ahead; you pulled out your phone to sneak-a-peak and – BLAM! You didn’t see the guy pulling out of the driveway from behind the hedge.
Or you might have been completely innocent. You were just sitting at a stoplight in your car when the person driving behind you, just sneaked-a-peak at a text, and then ploughed into your car. However it happens, we all have to deal with car accidents at one time or another and there are certain steps you should take, whether it was your fault or not, so that you can get your life back on track with as little hassle as possible.
Step #1: Exchange Information with the Other Driver
First, stay calm. Check and make sure you’re not injured. There may be soft tissue injuries that could show up on you later, but for right now, just make sure you’ve got all your parts and they’re working okay.
Next, make sure no one else involved in the wreck was seriously hurt. If they were, call 911 and get some professional medical technicians on the scene as soon as possible – they know all about car accident injuries; you don’t.
If no one is seriously hurt, really try to keep your cool, especially if the other driver involved is frantic. Absolutely nothing, legally speaking, is going to be determined at this time. You both just need to exchange names, contact numbers and insurance information.
Note the day, date and time-of-day that the accident occurred. Take a few pictures of the accident scene with your phone. Create a specific folder, call it ‘Car Accident (with the date)’ and put all of this information in that folder, so it will be easy to retrieve later.
If your car is not drivable, contact the AAA Auto Club, or if you’re not a member, call your insurance company and get the name of a car-towing service from them. You might even get to talk with an insurance adjuster, if so, just take care of the immediate car towing procedure; the rest of your interaction with her or him will come later.
Step #2: Hire a Lawyer
Unless your accident is very minor, you should definitely hire an attorney to represent you. If you have a friend or family member who has been in an accident recently, and who hired an attorney, call them up, right from the scene, and ask them for a recommendation.
If not, try Yelp and read through the reviews of car accident attorneys. Most good attorneys these days have websites specifically designed to interface with new clients, and input contact data, as effortlessly as possible, such as https://www.noll-law.com/il/car-accident-attorney-springfield/. The main thing is to get your legal representation rolling as soon as you possibly can.
Step #3: Communicating with Your Insurance Company
You want to turn over all communication with your insurance company to your lawyer as quickly as possible. The reason is that insurance adjusters, no matter how kind and caring they may seem over the phone, are not working for you – they’re working for the insurance company.
Their bottomline is to get this case handled as cheaply as they can for their company, and to transfer costs for this accident over to you, or the other driver’s insurance company, as much as possible. Your attorney knows all their tricks and sidesteps; he or she has seen them all before. So the adjuster is unlikely to even try to pull anything if an attorney is involved and, thus, your case will proceed more quickly.
Step #4: Your Personal Injuries
Many soft tissue injuries resulting from car accidents don’t present themselves until several hours, or even days, after an accident. It is not uncommon after a car accident for a person to feel okay, even pretty normal. But then as time goes by, pains can crop up.
Report anything unusual that you might feel to your attorney. He will hook you up with a doctor who specializes in soft tissue injury. This doctor will probably order a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan of your body to see if there are any trouble spots. If there are, your lawyer and doctor will partner together and present a therapy plan to your insurance company.
Make sure you follow this plan to the letter. Your future health depends on it. You don’t want to find out, 15 or 20 years down the road, that you have an injury from this car accident that wasn’t treated properly.