In the same way that defensive driving helps prevent a car accident, knowing what to do after being involved in one gives drivers a better chance of being compensated for their injuries. No driver wants to think about being involved in a car accident. However, car accidents are frequent events, and knowing what to do after one happens is important, regardless of who is at fault.
According to the CDC, hospital visits for injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes exceeded 2 million in 2020. Motor vehicle fatalities in the same year were more than 40,000. Experienced drivers understand that many things can go wrong when on the road, and that is why taking precautions can reduce the risk of a car accident.
It is not enough for drivers to rely on their belief that they were not at fault for an accident. The truth is that there may be obstacles that stand in the way of receiving the appropriate compensation that is needed and rightfully deserved. Insurance companies, the other driver, or the court may have a different opinion about what happened and the legitimacy of a personal injury claim. It is important, therefore, to have knowledge of what you should do after a car accident to assure the best possible outcome.
Make Sure You Are Safe
The first and most important thing you should do immediately following a car accident is to ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers. If at all possible, drive your car to the side of the road, especially if you are on a major road or highway.
Once you know you are safe, call 911 right away. This is critical for many reasons, the most important of which is to assure that you receive needed, immediate medical care. Not getting immediate medical attention after suffering a car accident injury could exacerbate an injury and cause problems down the road. It is also important to remember that not all injuries present themselves immediately. It is always wise to get immediate medical attention that could locate or treat an injury.
Another reason to call 911 is in case you end up having to show cause for an injury claim. Not addressing your injury from the onset could cause an investigator or court to believe that your injury is not as severe as you claim. Thus, if an ambulance arrives at the scene and it is requested that you be taken to a hospital, do not refuse.
If you were not at fault, or even if you were partially at fault, the police can be of great assistance to your case. They can help you by gathering information, making an assessment of the cause of the accident, taking pictures, and observing skid marks. Most of all, the police will file an accident report that could be used to help support your claim.
Although the police can be tremendously helpful, you should always gather as much information on your own as you can. This includes the responding officer’s name, contact information, and badge number.
You should also obtain the other driver’s name, contact information, insurance company name and policy information, and driver’s license information. Make sure to write down all necessary details of the accident, starting with the make, model, and color of the other driver’s car.
Write down as much detail about the accident as you possibly can, including any important information about what led up to the accident, defensive measures you took to avoid the accident, and negligence on the part of the other driver.
Speak to Witnesses
It is imperative that you gather information from any witnesses if possible. Write down their contact information in case you need them at a later date. It would also be helpful if you wrote down their assessment of the accident.
Take pictures if at all possible. Make sure to include any vehicle involved, skid marks, the roadway, debris, and anything else having to do with the accident.
What Should You Do in the Days, Weeks, and Months Following an Accident?
Make sure to ask for a copy of the police report when it is ready, as this is your right. You should also contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
If you were taken to a hospital from the scene of your accident, you should follow-up with your doctor and any appointments you were given. If you were not taken to a hospital and feel that you may have suffered an injury, you should go to your doctor or a medical facility as soon as possible.
There is a likely possibility that if you have suffered a serious injury, you will need medical records that substantiate your claim to either an insurance investigator or court. Investigators may ask for your medical records. Although you are under no legal obligation to comply, refusing could affect your claim.
The job of a defense lawyer is to prove that you were fully or partially at fault, or that you are not seriously injured, minimizing the damages for which you are seeking compensation. If you do not show that you have followed-up with your appointments, or that you have outright refused treatment, you are showing the court that you have not taken the proper steps to mitigate your injuries or take your injuries seriously.
Thus, you should keep all your appointments, and you should save all your receipts as well. This includes receipts for all appointments, medications, and treatments. Proof of medical documentation is strongly recommended for your case.
Additionally, a doctor will be able to provide a record and diagnosis of your injuries, leaving little room for doubt. Medical receipts and records could also help give an idea of what your treatments and medications will cost in the future.
You should also call a car accident lawyer. Remember, insurance companies are looking to minimize their costs. It is likely that in the case of a serious injury, you will be offered a low settlement. A lawyer can help make sure that you are being treated fairly according to your injuries. An experienced lawyer can also help you figure out if you have a lawsuit, and what you should and should not do if you decide to file one.
The Role of Negligence
All states vary slightly when it comes to insurance. Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state. This means that it is not necessary to prove who was at fault for an insurance claim, but it may not be that simple.
Pennsylvania offers either limited tort or full tort insurance. Limited tort will cover damages for medical treatment and some other monetary expenses. Full tort will also cover pain and suffering, as well as certain other non-monetary damages. The insurance you choose will affect your ability to file a lawsuit as well.
Pennsylvania follows the legal principle of modified comparative negligence. In this case, a plaintiff’s percentage of fault will be deducted from the overall compensation award. In other words, if a plaintiff is found to be 40 percent at fault, the plaintiff will only receive 60 percent of the damages. Note that in order for a plaintiff to be eligible to collect any damages, they have to be less than 51 percent at fault.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Those Seriously Injured in Car Accidents
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident due to a negligent driver, it is of the utmost importance that you have an experienced lawyer on your side. Our committed Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC will protect your rights. Call us at 215-569-8488 or you can contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, Media, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in the surrounding areas.