After a car or truck wreck, if you’re able to do follow the steps below, immediately and during the first few days afterward, it will make your insurance claim go smoother and increase the odds of it being a success.
- 1. Remain at the Scene – It’s against the law to leave the scene of an accident you were in if the police have been summoned; you must at least exchange insurance and other identifying information with the other driver. If there are any injuries, leaving the scene could result in your arrest and charges of “fleeing the scene [of an accident].”
2. Check on All Drivers and Passengers – Make sure everyone in all cars involved in the accident are alright. If anyone is seriously wounded, unconscious, unresponsive, or complains of any pain, they should not be moved unless vehicles are on fire!
3. Call 911 – Summon police and, if anyone is injured, EMTs. If police are able to respond, they will fill out an accident report. This is very important, as it protects you in several ways:
- It helps preserve the evidence that the responding officer will include in his accident report and subsequent investigation by your lawyer.
- It assures that you will have the other driver’s car insurance information: the driver’s name, insurance company, and policy number.
- It protects the value of your injury claim and reduces the odds that the driver’s insurance company will make substandard settlement offers.
- It usually takes police a few days to compile a formal accident report. The responding officer will tell you how you can get a copy of yours. Once you have it, take it to your lawyer immediately.
- If police are unable to come to the scene, use the information you gather to fill out your own version of events leading up to the accident
4. Talk to witnesses – If there are any witnesses, try to interview them to find out what they saw. If that is not practical, try to get their names and contact information. If they need to leave (witnesses are not legally bound to stay), you can give that information to police when they arrive. Also ask anyone who lives near the accident scene whether they know of other accidents in the same place. Make a note of any businesses that have video cameras which might have recorded the accident.
5. Take pictures of damage to both cars – these photographs are the best evidence of your property damage. Also, if there is anything in your vehicle that was damaged, take pictures of those, too. If you wait to take pictures of your vehicle later, the other driver’s insurance company will undoubtedly contest the value of that damage.
6. Never apologize – or admit that part or all of the accident was your fault. Anything you say that could even hint at an apology will come back to haunt you once the other driver’s insurance company learns you’ve expressed even the vaguest of apologies. Just don’t go there.
7. Get medical treatment – If you need immediate attention, the ambulance will take you to a hospital emergency room. There, the medical staff will make sure your injuries are not serious and will admit you if they are. If you are treated and released, you will likely be prescribed some pain medication and told to see your doctor as soon as possible. Insurance companies view the time between the accident and your first medical treatment as a true test of how seriously you were injured. The longer that period of time, the less they’re likely to believe the worth of your financial claim.Whether you see the medical staff at the ER or your own personal physician, make certain you do not minimize any injury or symptoms. “Toughing it out” does not serve you well when it comes to your claim. Tell the doctor everything that hurts or does not feel right. Also, clearly explain any part of your body that hit any part of the interior of your car. All this information is vital medical evidence for your lawyer to use either during settlement negotiations or, if necessary, at trial.
8. Notify your insurance company – They should know about the accident as quickly as possible and no later than the next day after the accident. Kentucky is a “choice no-fault” insurance state. In order for your damages to be paid, your insurance company is the one you should be working with. Your insurer will notify the negligent driver’s insurance company as in no-fault states; they should pay you and then seek reimbursement by the other driver’s carrier.
In a serious Kentucky car accident, the other driver’s insurer may contact you and ask for an official statement. This can be intimidating. If you haven’t considered talking with a personal injury attorney by then, you should. They can explain the types of questions to expect.
If you feel you might need legal assistance to protect your insurance claim and your rights to full injury compensation after being hit by a negligent driver, please contact Pikeville, KY, car accident lawyer, Billy Johnson, by calling toll-free 606-433-0682 or by filling out our online form.