Car accidents occur all the time. If you were injured in a car accident today, would you know what to do? How will the medical expenses be paid? Can you file a lawsuit, and if so, under what circumstances? Would it be worth it? Understanding how to handle a car accident after it occurs is imperative if you hope to recover financial compensation.
Immediately After the Accident
- Check Yourself and Others– The health and safety of yourself and others is always the number one priority. If there are injuries that need urgent attention, take action immediately, and get proper medical care for everyone involved. If the injuries aren’t critical, it is still important to seek a medical professional as soon as you can.
- Call the Police– Even if there are no serious injuries, calling the police is still a good idea. At the very least, a police report may be necessary to file an insurance claim.
- Document– If it is safe to do so, take pictures or video of the incident. Take pictures of the vehicles’ visible damages and any visible injuries to you or others. If you can’t safely take them at the scene, take them as soon as possible.
- Exchange Information– While the investigating officer will obtain this information, you may want to keep your own record as well. Be sure to get the name, address, and telephone numbers of those involved and gather insurance card information from the other driver. However, it is probably best to avoid discussing any other elements of the accident with anyone but the authorities.
How to Handle Auto Insurance After a Crash
After an accident, you should file a claim with your insurance provider as soon as possible. Likely, the insurance provider of the other driver involved in the accident will contact you. If you believe that the other driver is at fault and you are considering filing a lawsuit against them, you will need to be careful about how you respond. You are legally required to communicate with your own insurance provider about the accident, but can wait to talk to the other driver’s insurance company.
If they call, you should decline to answer their questions until you speak with an attorney. Insurance companies often want to take statements as soon as possible after an accident; however, personal injury lawyers can advise you on how to answer their questions objectively and avoid any statements that may be misconstrued or used against you later.
When to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you and your attorney feel that the other driver is at fault for the accident, but settlement discussions have stalled or you feel their offer isn’t a fair amount, filing a lawsuit may be your next course of action.
The value of your car accident injury claim has a range of monetary values that includes pain and suffering. With your personal injury lawyer’s expertise, you should have an estimated value for your settlement goals. Should the insurance company refuse to come close to this range of payout, continuing with the claim through a lawsuit may be your only other course of action.
Personal Injury Lawsuit Procedures
A personal injury lawsuit is a process including filing, investigations, and court procedures. The basic steps include:
- Attorney Consultation– The first step in any personal injury lawsuit is finding an experienced, trusted attorney, such as this personal injury lawyer in Idaho. You want a lawyer with experience in personal injury, as opposed to an attorney with a background in other legal systems. A personal injury lawyer will consult with you about your case and evaluate the validity of your claim.
- Filing of Your Complaint– You and your lawyer will officially file a personal injury claim to the court.
- Notification– Once the court has received your personal injury complaint, the other driver involved in the Car Accident, the defendant, will be “served” with documentation regarding the lawsuit. This will include pertinent information about the lawsuit. They will then be given time to contact their insurance carrier, obtain a lawyer, and plan for the case.
- Pre-Trial Processes– The discovery process occurs pre-trial. During this time, both parties will be preparing for the case by gathering evidence. This pre-trial process also includes appearances in court to decide upon mediation, arbitration, and trial dates.
- Trial– The trial will begin on the agreed-upon date, and may last several days. During the trial, both sides will share their findings and argue their side of the case. At the conclusion, the judge or jury will decide upon the fault of the accident and determine the associated payout.
- The Appeal Process– After trial, either party—the defendant or plaintiff—has the right to appeal the court’s decision. However, once the appeals process has concluded, a losing defendant will be required to pay the damages awarded through the original trial or from an appeal.
Plan Ahead by Knowing What to Expect
When a car accident occurs, it is often difficult to think clearly or plan ahead for a potential lawsuit. Be prepared with a plan of action, including having your cell phone charged. The adrenaline and worry often take over, but knowing what steps to take before an accident happens can help whatever circumstances arrive.