Whenever involved in an auto accident, most people are reluctant to file an insurance claim right away. They consider taking this step as being overly protective of their rights and feel like they’d appear selfish and litigious.
But this is not always the case. After an auto accident, several factors threaten your legal rights. It’s critical that you protect those rights, particularly when the car accident was caused by the other party. Failing to act fast can cost you the compensation that you’re legally entitled to.
To ensure that your legal rights are protected after a car accident, here are important things that you should do:
1. Document The Accident Scene
Many things can happen in a short span of time following a car accident. If your injuries are serious, you’ll need to call an ambulance immediately for medical attention. If you’re well enough, remain on the accident scene and document as many details as possible.
Using your phone camera or any other camera in your possession, take photos of the scene including the location of the vehicles and landmarks nearby. Also, take photos of the damages on your vehicle, your injuries, and those of your passengers, if any. Ensure that your photos have a time and date stamp for easy referencing and verification.
Aside from taking photos, document the accident scene by talking to witnesses who saw the accident happen. Identify a few witnesses and talk to them. Request for their contacts as well. This can help your auto accident lawyer reach them later for statements as he works on your compensation claim case. Ideally, the more witnesses you’ll have, the stronger your claim will be.
2. Report The Accident To The Proper Authorities
The other critical step you’ll need to take to protect your legal rights after an auto accident is to report the accident. In most jurisdictions, motorists are legally required to report auto accidents that result in death, injury, or damages that exceed $500. For more details, check cochranlaw.com.
Calling the police after a car accident enables them to create and record an accident report with details of what happened. A report from the police serves as the initial evidence of the car accident that your attorney will need to file a personal injury claim on your behalf.
With an official record of the accident from law enforcement officers, the report enables auto accident lawyers to counter situations where the other party attempts to dispute your account of events or deny that the accident happened.
Prior to calling law enforcement, ensure that everyone at the accident scene is safe. Failing to do this may be construed as negligence on your part, giving the other party an opportunity to question your actions in the situation.
3. Get Medical Attention As Soon As Possible
Getting medical attention after an auto accident is critical to protect your legal rights. Refusing to accept medical help or delaying medical care can work against you when it comes to pursuing a compensation case.
This is because such an action will be used to prove that your injuries are not severe enough to warrant compensation or are not a direct result of the accident. Also, the other party may allege that you contributed to making the injuries severe by failing to get timely medical attention.
To prevent this, accept any emergency treatment that is offered to you following the accident, including agreeing to medical transportation if your injuries make it impossible for you to drive yourself to the hospital.
Upon receiving timely care, ensure that you follow all the orders that the doctor gives you closely. Don’t take any actions that may be considered harmful to your health. Your insurance company may ask for an independent medical examination.
However, you’re at liberty to get the opinion of another doctor. If you opt for a secondary examination, do it with a reputable doctor. This will ensure that the results from that secondary examination have enough weight to counter those of the independent medical examiner enlisted by the insurance company.
This is particularly important when there’s a need to prove that your injuries are more severe or that you’re in need of a higher standard of care than what the insurance company may be proposing.
4. Don’t Admit Liability
Whenever you’re involved in a car accident, you can protect your legal right by not admitting responsibility, particularly when it’s not clear who’s at fault. Even if you feel guilty about the accident or you believe that you’re to blame for the accident, don’t admit liability after an auto accident.
Determination of who’s at fault can only be done by a court of law or when someone voluntarily assumes responsibility. As such, don’t feel the pressure to admit responsibility either because you committed a minor violation like not obeying a traffic signal, or you were distracted while driving on the road.
Even as you avoid admitting liability, respond to questions by law enforcement directly and truthfully. Avoid giving misleading statements. As you give your statement, don’t speculate what your actions may have done or led to.
Always remember that you can decline to respond to a question where you feel the issue needs further investigation. Protect your legal rights after an auto accident by saying as little as possible. Better yet, you can choose to remain silent until your lawyer arrives.
If you find yourself in a car accident, don’t fear taking steps towards protecting your legal rights. After checking the extent of your injuries and those of the passengers you might be having in your car, focus on protecting your legal rights by reporting the accident to law enforcement, documenting the accident scene, and seeking medical attention.
As you do this, ensure that you don’t implicate yourself by admitting liability. Instead, reach out to a car accident lawyer to help you build a case for your claim. When hiring a lawyer, opt for one who can compute your damages, liaise with insurers, document the evidence well, and assert your rights in every step of the case.