The decisions you make in the minutes following an accident are critical. Unfortunately, in those minutes you have a lot to think about. Are you injured? Is anyone else injured? Are you exposed to further injury? What do I do now?
You may be in shock. Your analysis may be complicated by nerves and adrenaline. In the heat of the moment, it is easy to forget important details that can prove costly later.
If you are injured in the accident, you may need to file a claim with the insurance company of the person responsible for the accident. If you do file a claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to the claim. The adjuster will review and evaluate the decisions you make immediately following the accident and all of the decisions you make thereafter.
Your adjuster may be nice, friendly and professional, but remember this: the adjuster works for the insurance company, not for you. He or she is under no obligation to inform you of your rights or operate in your best interest. He or she is not there to offer an objective or unbiased opinion. In fact, an adjuster is employed by the insurance company to do one thing – save the insurance company money. They save the insurance company money by paying you less for your injuries, medical bills, and lost wages.
When it comes time to settle or resolve the claim, “your” adjuster may use those decisions and your conversations to try to show that the accident was your fault or that you are entitled to less money than you deserve. He or she may argue:
-That the accident was your fault;
-That you were not hurt;
-That you were not hurt that bad; or
-That something before or after the accident caused your injuries.
Oftentimes, by the time you know there is a problem, it is too late.
You can avoid costly mistakes by acting responsibly and making good decisions. These are some of the first things that you should do following an accident. For a more complete list, please call (800) xxx xxxx or visit www.speakslaw.com for your free copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book.
Safety Is Your First Priority
Keep yourself and everyone else safe. Be aware of traffic and potential hazards. Make sure you are not at risk of further injury. If anyone is injured, call 911 for immediate assistance. Stay out of the way of any medical professionals who are trying to render treatment to injured parties. Preserving the scene and evidence is important, but preventing further harm to yourself and others is your number one priority.
Identify All Parties Involved
Most people remember to gather the other party’s information and insurance, but all too often people forgo collecting witness information. Did anyone else see the accident? Get names, phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses. Sometimes people remember things differently than they occurred. You may need witnesses to show what really happened.
Many of us travel with cell phones that have cameras. Take pictures of the accident scene, your car, the other party’s car, and any other injuries or damage. While the event is still fresh in your mind, document a detailed account of what happened. You should write down exactly what happened as soon as you can safely do so. Many people forget this step, and details get fuzzy once they get home, making a solid case more difficult to build and prove.
Help The Investigating Officer
Take a clear, honest assessment of your injuries. Adrenaline masks pain, so take a moment to decompress and analyze your condition. Answer any questions asked of you carefully, and think before you speak. Check the officer’s information to make sure that it is accurate and comprehensive.
After the initial steps are completed, you have a lot more to take care of, including attending to your injuries and dealing with your insurance company. If there were injuries sustained by either party, it may be in your best interest to contact a Wilmington car accident lawyer. Insurance companies are not in the business of handing out more money than absolutely necessary, and you may be facing an expensive road to recovery. A good auto accident attorney can help ensure that you are able to pay your bills and focus on your recovery.
For more useful tips, check out Clarke Speaks’ free book, The North Carolina Auto Injury Book: Including 20 Secrets to Maximize Your Claim. Clarke, the founder of Wilmington’s Speaks Law Firm, used to defend insurance companies. Because of this inside information, he knows how to fight for the compensation you deserve. If you’ve been injured in a Wilmington auto accident and are seeking legal advice with your North Carolina auto claim, call Clarke today at 910-341-7570 to schedule a free consultation.