Recovering from a car accident is difficult, but it’s made easier when you get the justice and compensation you deserve.
Even the most careful drivers can end up in car accidents that leave them and any passengers with injuries and damage or destroy their vehicle — not through any fault of their own by the careless acts of others.
The roads and highways are incredibly busy places, packed with vehicles small, medium, and very large (18 wheelers), and all it takes is a split-second of distracted attention or loss of control, and disaster strikes. By any measure, it’s carnage out there, with a total of 33,244 fatal road traffic accidents around the United States in 2019, resulting in 36,096 deaths (3,294 of them in Texas, with 3,615 fatalities).
Apart from many tragic deaths, the effects of injuries received in road collisions are often severe and long-lasting, causing physical and mental trauma that can go on for years and make victims’ lives a misery. The personal and professional aspects of someone’s life can suffer, and you can lose your job because you can no longer work. That can result in the additional stress and burden of financial problems and at a time when you may be paying out large sums for ongoing medical treatment.
Getting justice and compensation from the at-fault driver and their insurance company will go a long way towards righting the wrong that was done to you and help you put your life back together. So what to do after a car accident that was not your fault, and how to go about getting a settlement? Here are some pointers from our car accident injury lawyers, who help victims get the compensation they deserve for their injuries and property damage.
Steps to Take after a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault
1. Ensure Your Safety
In the moments after a collision on the road, when your vehicle was suddenly struck by another, it’s natural to feel disoriented and even panicked. Try to remain calm, as your only priority right now is to check that you and any passengers are OK. If it seems that everyone is fine and your vehicle is operational, try to get to safety by driving to the edge of the road or motorway. If it’s too badly damaged, walk instead so that you’re not at risk of being struck by a passing vehicle. If someone is badly injured, don’t move them, as it might make their injuries worse.
2. Call the Authorities
Don’t wait for the at-fault driver to call the police and medical emergency services. Everyone needs to get medically checked out, whether they feel they have injuries or not. Some injuries can take a while to manifest due to a surge of adrenaline after a crash. A police report of the accident will be your fundamental document in your car accidents lawyer proving to an insurance company or court that you did not cause the crash. This may also prove you’re entitled to financial compensation for what happened to you.
3. Record the Scene
While you’re waiting for the authorities to arrive, or even after they’re on the scene, it’s a good idea to use your phone to take photographs and videos of the accident site. Take as many as possible — as long as you’re able to — and show the vehicles involved, making sure you capture their license plate, so there’s no doubt that they were the ones involved. You may already have been speaking with the at-fault driver if they’re not badly injured and receiving medical care. Make sure you get all their details, including their full name, address, phone number and email, and the name of their insurance company. And never admit any fault to the driver who caused the accident, or accept some payment on the spot, as it will almost certainly be small compared to what you could get in an insurance or court award.
4. Seek Witnesses
Another invaluable way of supporting a personal injury claim after a car crash is to talk to those around at the time of the accident and may have seen what happened and will provide a witness statement. So again, take full names and contact details so you or your car accident injury lawyer can follow up later and get their statement.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Just because you didn’t cause the accident doesn’t mean you don’t have to notify your insurance carrier. They need to know that the vehicle you were in that’s covered by their insurance policy has been damaged, and any injuries you sustained. Many people neglect this step, mistakenly thinking it’s only the at-fault driver’s insurance provider that needs to be notified, only to later discover they may have issues with their own policy. Plus, you may also need to claim damages from your insurance company, along with that of the guilty party.
6. Gather Documentation
To get the maximum compensation for your accident, you need to collect documents that both show what happened and how it caused you a great deal of expense. That means getting the police report and any medical reports about injuries you may have received and treatment for them. If you’re unable to do this, you can ask your car accidents lawyer to get them for you. And if you’re unable to work due to your injuries, ask your employer for a letter to confirm this, along with details of lost earnings so far, and projected future lost earnings. All this, and other possible expenses, such as modifying your home so you can get around in an incapacitated or disabled state, will be included in the settlement figure you and your car accident injury lawyer seek.
What Happens if the Settlement Figure Is Too Low, or the At-Fault Driver Refuses to Pay?
One of the main reasons you should have an expert car accidents lawyer handling your case is to make sure you don’t get a low settlement offer, typically what insurance companies try to get away with. They’re in the business of making money and so want to pay out as little as possible in compensation claims. An experienced car accident injury lawyer will know how to deal with insurance firms, so they make an offer that’s acceptable to you, and they’ll negotiate hard to get it.
Most claims are settled this way, but a small amount make it to court, either because the at-fault party won’t pay or the settlement figure is refused. Trials are arduous and expensive undertakings, and again, it’s vital that you have a good car accidents lawyer and one who has courtroom experience. They will prepare your case and arrange any necessary expert witnesses to testify, such as medical professionals who can give the jury detailed knowledge about your injuries and the treatment that’s required.
Your car accident injury lawyer will only take this route if they’re sure you have a solid chance of winning and the jury awarding you substantial compensation for your injuries and damage.
The car accident injury lawyers at Patino Law Firm have many years’ experience winning large compensation sums for our clients. Schedule a free consultation now to find out how we can help you.