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  • Writer's pictureJay Ingrum

Post-Collision Guide: How to Effectively Handle an Automobile Acciden

Legal Lens: Viewing Law Through Ingrum Expertise

If you drive a car, then at some point in your lifetime you are likely to be involved in some type of automobile accident or have a family member who has an accident.  If you remember these simple tips on what to do if you are in an automobile accident, then you will have a much better experience when it comes time to make a claim against your carrier or against the at-fault person’s carrier.  I suggest you print this list out and keep copies of it in the glove compartment of all of your family’s vehicles.  If you don’t do this, then you will forget most of this advice when you are in the midst of a real life accident.

car accident; police car

What To Do If You Are In An Automobile Accident: 16 Helpful Tips!

1) Call the police immediately and make sure you get a copy of the accident report.  Also, make sure the accident report is accurate.

2) Obtain the name, address, phone number, insurance company name, policy number, and insurance company phone number of the other at-fault driver.  Also, obtain the name, address, and phone of any and all eyewitnesses to the accident itself.

3) Take photos or video of the accident scene and the damage to all of the vehicles involved in the accident.  Focus on the points of impact and any debris or liquids in the roadway.  If you are injured and unable to photograph or video the scene and vehicles, then ask someone else to do so for you, for example any uninjured passenger or any eyewitness.  Remember, your cell phone is a camera and video camera.

4) Write down or record any statements made to you by the other driver, particularly if they admit fault for the accident.

5) If you are injured, then go to the hospital via ambulance to be checked out thoroughly.  Get X-rays and an MRI if the ER doctors feel it is medically necessary.  Photograph any and all injuries you may have right after the accident, and continue to photograph your injuries in the coming days as you begin to heal and recover.  Bruising, scarring, stitches, and swelling will change over time.

6) Keep track of all miscellaneous expenses as the case progresses including tow bills, storage fees, prescription costs, home healthcare costs, and medical aid devices (crutches, cane, neck brace), etc.

7) Maintain a detailed list of each and every medical provider including the ambulance service, the ER doctor, the radiologist, your primary care physician, and any surgeons or specialists that you are referred to during your treatment.  Keep a list of the full names, addresses, and phone numbers for all of your medical providers.  Keep a list of the dates and times of treatment in chronological order.

8) Keep a running total of the cost of treatment. Keep copies of every medical bill, prescription bill, and keep copies of all explanation of benefits or EOBs if your insurance pays for any of your treatment. If you receive any letters from your insurance company regarding subrogation, then keep those together and in order.  Your insurance will expect to be reimbursed by the at-fault person’s insurance company.

9) Obtain a copy of your auto insurance policy and your health insurance policy.

10) Obtain at least three (3) estimates for the property damage to your vehicle, and keep written copies of each estimate.

11) Document all of your lost wages. Be sure to obtain a doctor’s off work statement, and a statement from your employer that you actually missed work.  Obtain a copy of your most recent W-2 or 1099 and obtain copies of your most recent paystubs for at least three (3) months prior to the accident.

12) Maintain copies of any disability payments that you receive after the accident if you have a short-term or long-term disability policy that pays you if you are unable to work.

13) Notify the at-fault carrier of the accident, and make a formal claim.  Make sure to get the insurance adjuster’s name, address, and phone number, the at-fault party’s policy number, and your assigned claim number for the accident.

14) Keep a daily journal after the accident to help document all of your dates of treatment and to track your progress and recovery.

15) Obtain your treating physician’s expert medical opinion as to your long-term prognosis, including the necessity of future surgeries, treatments or prescription medications, and as to any permanent disability rating that you may have.

16) Hire the best attorney that you can find, preferably someone with a lot of experience in handling personal injury claims. Attorneys that have been on both sides of the claim’s process can be very helpful. For example, if an attorney has worked in the areas of insurance defense and has done plaintiff’s work, then they will know the ins and outs of the entire process from both sides.  Remember, you must either settle your claim or file a lawsuit before the one (1) year statute of limitations runs in your case.  If you do not file suit within one (1) year from the date of the accident, then you will be forever time barred from recovery.

Hopefully, you won’t get into an automobile accident, but if you do keep this list handy.  If you follow these simple steps, then you should end up with a positive resolution to your case.

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