While newer cars come equipped with the latest safety features, injuries in a car accident are still possible. That’s why a car accident attorney will recommend that you take these basic steps to ensure you file your car accident injury claim with success.
What to Do If You Are in a Car Accident
Car accidents can be frightening and have the potential to change your life forever in seconds. What you do following the accident can help you recover the damages you deserve.
Make Sure You Stop
In the state of Pennsylvania, you are required by law to stop at the scene. You may move your vehicle out of the way to safety but must act with reasonable assistance to anyone that is injured. Calling 911 is advised for getting medical attention as well as filing a police report of the incident.
Get Medical Treatment
Not every injury involves blood or broken bones. Many injuries, such as brain trauma or internal bleeding, may not be apparent immediately following the crash. You should never refuse medical treatment. Additionally, if you have a serious injury, you will need medical records to serve as documentation in order to seek compensation.
Refusing or delaying medical treatment can negatively impact your claim. In this case, the insurance company may try to argue your injuries were not caused by your car accident.
File a Police Report
In the state of Pennsylvania, you are required to report car accidents that have resulted in injuries, death, or vehicle damage that prevents it from being driven. Additionally, you can use this police report to substantiate your accident injury claim.
After a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you must demonstrate proof they were responsible. The information you gather is essential in forming a solid case. Without evidence, you could lose out on the costs of your medical treatment, lost wages, car repairs, rental car fees, and pain and suffering.
Take photos and videos to capture the accident scene. Photograph all vehicles involved in the crash, including license plate numbers. You want to be as comprehensive as possible to show the positions of the vehicles, weather conditions, and any other hazards.
Additionally, you want to collect witness contact information from anyone that saw the accident. Videos are incredibly helpful because they can document admission of fault, intoxication, and other notable issues to help your claim.
Contact Your Car Insurance Carrier
Regardless of who is at fault, you must contact your insurance company. In Pennsylvania, all drivers must carry personal liability and property damage insurance. While you do not need to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in this state, you must have an active policy that satisfies the minimum coverage amounts.
Do Not Admit Fault
Even simply apologizing to the other driver could be considered an admission of fault. Never say anything about the fault of the accident while on the accident scene. There are many variables that contribute to an accident, such as the weather, malfunctioning traffic lights, negligence of the other driver, and potholes.
If you admit fault, it could be used against you during your claim. You may think you are being polite by apologizing that the event took place. However, saying you are sorry can ruin your chances of filing a successful car accident injury claim.
How Fault Works in Car Accidents
Because Pennsylvania follows a choice for no-fault car insurance, you get the opportunity to select no-fault coverage when you buy your car insurance policy. As such, if you have this kind of coverage, you must file a claim under your own personal injury protection coverage to make claims. If your injuries are serious enough, you can bring a claim directly against the negligent driver.
There is a statute of limitations on the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit against another driver. For Pennsylvania, the time limit is two years from the date of the accident.
Pennsylvania is also a modified comparative negligence state. This means that if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will not receive compensation. However, if you are found 49% at fault or less, you will be able to recover damages from the at-fault party.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Not every car accident requires the support of a car accident lawyer to recover your claims. This is usually true for small accidents when the injuries and damages are not severe.
However, if your car accident has resulted in significant injuries and damages to property, it is wise to obtain representation from a personal injury lawyer. If you are unsure, consider your injuries. Most strains and sprains, bruises, cuts, and minor injuries do not result in high medical bills. Therefore, they are not that complex for you to negotiate as a victim.
When it comes to severe injuries such as fractures, wounds requiring stitches, head trauma, third-degree burns, and other serious injuries, you do not want to underestimate the compensation you deserve.
You may fail to consider the future medical costs of your injuries or how they may affect your ability to make a living. Dealing with injury claims can bring substantial compensation. However, they are much more complicated to handle on your own.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you navigate this process. What you should do in any car accident, though, is take the basic steps listed above. If you are not seriously injured, you will be able to use those steps to make your claims with ease. But if you are suffering from more severe injuries, those simple steps can make it easier for you to make a successful claim and get back what you deserve in compensation.