Feeling bewildered right after being hit in a car accident is a very common feeling. You’re in shock that it just happened and your mind probably isn’t going to immediately start categorizing all of the things that you need to say or do to protect yourself for what’s to come months down the road. Even worse, you may inadvertently make things more difficult for yourself because you didn’t know there were things you shouldn’t have done.
When you’re involved in a car accident, you are instantly swept up into a flurry of many moving parts that the insurance company wants to control as part of their strategy for minimizing their financial liability.
Follow the guidance below to ensure that your claim runs more smoothly.
- DO call 911 to report the accident and request assistance.
- DO take photos of the damage to the at-fault driver’s vehicle, your vehicle, yourself and any occupants of your vehicle. If any other vehicles are involved, be sure to get photos of that damage as well. Take photos of the area showing the positions of the vehicles and any skid marks on the ground.
- DO seek medical treatment and continuing with any follow up as suggested by your doctor.
- DO keep track of all time you have lost from work from attending medical appointments and other accident-related business you’re required to take care of.
- DO call an experienced personal injury lawyer who can offer important legal advice.
- DON’T settle the accident on the side of the road or amongst yourselves. Even if the damage appears minor, you could have vehicle damage that can’t be seen and you could have injuries that won’t surface for weeks, especially with rear-end collisions. If you accept cash from the at-fault driver and don’t report the accident to the insurance company, the at-fault driver is off the hook and often times the repair work won’t be guaranteed.
- DON’T make any statements or comments to the other driver that could be construed as admitting fault. Even something as simple as asking if they’re okay can be turned around on you to assert that you admitted fault.
Tips for dealing with the insurance company
If the accident results in having to deal with an insurance adjuster from your own auto insurer, you are obligated under the terms of your insurance policy to cooperate with them in their investigation of the accident. Your insurance policy is a contract and failure to do so can result in you breaching the contract (policy) and your coverage being dropped.
If the insurance adjuster represents the at-fault (and you’re not at fault), you should proceed with caution by following some basic steps:
- Don’t speak to anyone with the insurance company before hiring a personal injury attorney. Your attorney may feel it is best that he or she take control of the situation to prevent the insurance adjuster or claims agent from turning the facts of the accident around to assign at least some of the fault to you.
- Don’t provide a recorded statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. They know how to phrase questions in an attempt to get you to provide details they can take out of context that can damage your claim.
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company may ask you to sign a release for damages, a HIPAA form to obtain your medical records, or other document during the course of the claims process. Don’t sign a thing unless your attorney instructs you to do so. You could be providing more information than you’re required to, or could be signing away some of your rights.
- It can be tempting to accept a settlement offer, especially when you may be having financial difficulty as a result of the accident. Insurers frequently bank on this and initially make a lower offer than they know you deserve. Allow your attorney’s advice to guide you in deciding when it is time to accept an offer.
For the Alabama car accident attorneys at Mezrano Law Firm, clients are top priority. We appreciate the trust placed in our experienced legal team by the citizens of the communities we serve when they become injured in a motor vehicle accident. If you have been injured by a careless driver, schedule your free case evaluation with one of our caring attorneys by reaching out to us through our contact page, or by calling 205-206-6300. We pride ourselves on providing high-quality, professional legal services to all injury victims within range of our offices located in Birmingham, Mobile, Florence, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, and Montgomery.