What to do After a Car Accident

What to do After a Car Accident

A car accident is a jarring experience that no one hopes for. Even minor fender-benders can shake you up, and more major collisions can result in injuries and vehicle damage that require significant time and money to address.

As you move past the initial accident scene, with the guidance of a skilled car accident lawyer, you must take important steps regarding insurance, medical treatment, vehicle repairs, and legal action.

Seek Any Needed Medical Attention

After the car accident, the top priority is ensuring you and any passengers have the necessary medical care for injuries sustained.

The adrenaline and shock of an accident can mask pain symptoms, so even if you feel fine initially, get checked out by a doctor. Some injuries like concussions, internal bleeding, and soft tissue damage take time to manifest.

If you refuse medical transport from the scene but still need medical care, have someone drive you to an urgent care or emergency room to get evaluated. Describe the details of the accident and specific areas that are now painful. Describe all physical complaints thoroughly to ensure the doctor can diagnose any underlying issues.

Follow all medical advice and treatment plans closely after an accident injury, including medications, therapy, or follow-up doctor visits. Carefully comply with any activity restrictions given by the treating physician, as trying to take on normal activities too soon can impair the healing process.

Keep records of all accident-related medical treatment in case you need to provide evidence later for insurance or legal claims.

Report The Accident to Insurance

Contact your insurance company as soon as possible about the accident. Claim filing has certain time limits, and prompt reporting creates the most accurate record.

When speaking with the insurance representative, be prepared to provide:

  • Date/location of the accident
  • Other driver's name and insurance details, if known
  • Description of damage to vehicles/property
  • Overview of injuries to those involved
  • Police report case number, if applicable

Many insurance companies have mobile apps or online claim portals to make reporting easier. But you can also call and speak with a claims representative who will file the report and explain the next steps based on the accident details.

Cooperate fully with your insurer's investigation of the accident. Honesty and transparency about what happened will help move the claim process forward smoothly and fairly.

Deal With Vehicle Damage

As soon as possible after an accident, assess the property damage to your vehicle. Take photos documenting the visible dents, scrapes, bumper damage, etc. Then, consult with auto repair shops to determine if the vehicle is safe to drive and get repair cost estimates.

For minor cosmetic damage, you can transport the vehicle to an auto body shop for repair when convenient. Discuss your flexibility on timelines - open slots on repair schedules can vary.

Driving the car may be unsafe if mechanical systems like electrical, suspension, or steering components are damaged. Tow truck transport to a repair shop should happen promptly. You should also consider getting a rental car so the repairs do not impact your transportation ability.

If your vehicle suffered extensive damage and is considered "totaled," procedures will differ. Your insurer will assess the repair value against cash value thresholds to deem it a total loss. Discuss your policy's loss settlement provisions regarding vehicle replacement with your insurance representatives.

You should also save records related to accident vehicle damage, including photos, tow/repair invoices, and documentation on the insurance's decision regarding paying for repairs vs total loss settlement.

Experienece Lawyer for Car Accident

Even after cooperating with the insurance processes, there may still be additional medical bills, lost income from injury impact, or other uncompensated accident-related effects that you need to address.

Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney can help assess if pursuing formal legal action, such as a personal injury lawsuit, will be recommended for full compensation under the law.

An attorney can guide you through the legal processes, dealing with insurance companies seeking claim payouts or negotiating alternative dispute options like mediation.

Many personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, taking a portion of any final claim settlement as payment for services directly from that settlement. You should owe zero legal fees if your lawyer obtains no compensation for you.

Working with a personal injury lawyer also helps you weigh factors like:

  • Damage amount: Your damages are the costs you've accumulated related to injuries, vehicle repair costs, missed work income, etc., that inform the appropriate path for pursuing compensation.
  • State-specific laws: Since car accident law differs across states, consult with attorneys licensed specifically in your jurisdiction. They can interpret how local statutes and legal precedents might support the strongest claim.

Choosing the Right Lawyer for Your Case

Selecting knowledgeable legal counsel suited to argue car accident claims requires some research into lawyer qualifications and client practice areas. A personal referral from a trusted source is a good starting point.

But don't hesitate to interview multiple attorneys before committing, comparing factors like:

  • Specific case results handling car injury disputes
  • Accessibility for communications - will calls/emails receive prompt priority responses?
  • Estimate of claim settlement timeframe
  • Legal fee terms if no insurance settlement results
  • Case evidence requests - what documents or data will strengthen arguments?
  • Previous client claim outcomes - has the lawyer had success with comparable accidents?

An initial consultation, often free, lets both parties determine the right fit. You can also request case references and confirm licensure standing with your state bar association. Look for an eager attorney with a communication style that you trust. This is the attorney you want to move your claim through the legal system.

How Can An Attorney Help Determine Accident Fault?

In collisions involving multiple contributing factors between drivers, the burden of fiscal liability might get divided between negligent parties.

Your lawyer thoroughly investigates details like:

  • Visual obstructions impeding line of sight
  • Road hazard deficiencies - poor lighting, signs, etc.
  • Mechanical deficiencies like brake failure
  • Adverse weather reducing control
  • Driver distractions from devices/passengers
  • Fatigue impairing response reflexes
  • Traffic control device functioning - stoplights, etc.

Your legal team will analyze the proportion of fault borne across the parties responsible for causing your accident. Your claim settlement value will increase due to an at-fault party's egregious actions.

Pursing Ongoing Medical Support

Car accident cases reinforced by substantial injury evidence often recover higher values in settlement negotiations.

A savvy lawyer can help coordinate documented medical evaluations like:

  • Ongoing specialist treatment over time for your symptom needs
  • Physical therapy with sports medicine professionals
  • Massage and chiropractic methods for muscular-skeletal pain management
  • Counseling/support groups to address mental health collision impact

However, gaps between the accident date and any treatments you've received might prompt insurance pushback. Don't leave injury complaints unaddressed for extended durations after an accident.

Consider Alternative Transportation

If your vehicle suffered notable damage, pursuing repairs can take days, weeks, or longer, depending on parts/labor availability.

In the meantime, make alternative transportation arrangements to replace your vehicle's role in addressing your travel needs:

  • Commuting to a workplace: Discuss options like remote work flexibility, ridesharing, or public transit with your employer.
  • General errands/tasks: Car rental agencies and ride-share services help fill gaps; just check the fine print on insurance requirements. Family, friends, or community resources might assist as well.

Be Prepared If Contacted for Case Follow-Ups

In the weeks and months following your accident, you or your attorney may be contacted by relevant parties requesting additional statements, access to records, or confirmation of claim details as they process your case.

Certify facts around:

  • Ongoing medical care related to accident injuries: Keep a record of visits, document symptoms reported to doctors, etc.
  • Monetary effects tied to accident impact: This includes total vehicle repair invoices, doctor/hospital balances owed, lost pay amounts, etc. Keep track of the grounds for your financial damages.
  • Injury effects on daily roles/activities: How are your lingering accident injuries impairing life function? Limitations influencing work duties, parenting, recreation, etc., can become evidence for your settlement.

Staying organized and communicative will prevent delays amid any claim adjustment processes and court actions pursued down the line.

Dealing With Injuries That Persist

In some accident cases, injury effects continue to hinder your daily life even after the initial treatment phase. Ongoing pain impairing mobility, headaches interrupting concentration, or wound sensitivity are a few examples.

If your everyday activities remain limited for weeks or months after an accident due to lingering physical issues, additional medical input might be necessary.

Consult back with the original treatment provider for an extended symptoms evaluation. Secondary referrals may become necessary to address specific pain and suffering damages, physical therapy needs, or surgical correction that wasn't anticipated early on.

Establishing Firm Timelines

In the chaotic times following an automobile accident, it's natural to operate in crisis mode, addressing immediate demands.

But as the days go on and the emergency settles, you can introduce structure into your life going forward by setting some firm timelines:

  • Disability filing: If you cannot work for an extended time due to your accident injuries, this path opens access to entitlement income replacement. A lawyer can assist with this timeline.
  • Insurance claim adjustment follow-ups: Set calendar reminders on the insurer's communicated schedule to request additional damage/cost records or review a proposed settlement offer.
  • Vehicle repair check-ins: Follow up with the service garage at least weekly for updates on parts arrival/repair progress.

Having at least a few deadlines can create much-needed accountability so your post-accident obligations don't lose momentum or fizzle out halfway through the process.

Set alerts on your phone, record deadlines on your household calendar, or ask a trusted friend/relative to quiz you on target dates. This external commitment to defined scheduling makes it harder to let items slip through the cracks.

Find and Maintain Supportive Connections

In the aftermath of experiencing a traumatic event like a vehicle accident, it's natural to replay chaotic memories, ruminate over confusing insurance paperwork, or generally withdraw from regular social connections.

However, continuing to nurture your relationships and community stability acts like an antidote. The consistent comfort of familiar bonds with those who care about your daily life, progress, and well-being creates balance. It counterbalances accident-related stress.

So, make an effort to actively communicate with family members, close friends, or colleagues who inspired you before the crash. Share updates on your healing journey, ask for the company on a rehabilitative walk, or replay a funny movie you once enjoyed together.

These intentionally shared moments of normalcy amid disruption and uncertainty re-ground stability. They remind you of the baseline connections that once defined your daily life- relationships deserving of resumed investment of time and focus.

You will enjoy your recovery more when you can anchor it to those who care about you the most.

Richard Reinartz, Personal Injury Attorney in New Jersey
Richard Reinartz Personal Injury Attorney in New Jersey

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Staying proactive with these personal, financial, and legal obligations will place your best interests first as the ripples from your unfortunate accident continue to unfold. Having the proper support and advice about critical decisions after an auto collision is key - don't weather the storm alone.

Consult a lawyer to pursue maximum recovery and reclaim stability after a car accident crisis.

A legal professional will know how to move your case forward under personal injury law. They can explain the specific legal obligations that pertain to your case, ensuring that you don't overlook any details that can impact the outcome of your claim.

One of the key advantages of consulting with a personal injury lawyer in New Jersey is that they can provide you with tailored advice based on the unique circumstances of your accident. They will thoroughly evaluate your case, gathering evidence and assessing liability to build a strong claim on your behalf.

Also, having legal representation sends a strong message to insurance companies and other parties involved that you are serious about pursuing your rights. It demonstrates your commitment to securing a fair settlement that covers medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and more.

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