Getting into a car accident can be an emotional event for everyone involved, especially if you sustain injuries. Knowing what to do after your traffic accident can affect your ability to win compensation for bodily injury and property damage.
If you or a loved one are an auto accident victim, the personal injury attorneys at Nessler & Associates can help you understand your legal rights. An experienced lawyer can offer legal advice and assist you in filing an insurance claim after a car accident. If necessary, your lawyer can also take your case to court to seek maximum compensation for your injuries.
Get Emergency Help
Immediately after a car accident, check yourself and your passengers for accident injuries. If an injured person requires immediate medical attention, contact emergency services first by calling 911, then notify the police to report the accident.
Pay attention to nearby traffic if you must get out of your car to check on an injured person or property damage. Other speeding cars on nearby busy roads and highways may hit your stalled vehicle by accident. If possible, remain seated in the car and keep your seatbelt on while waiting for the police to arrive.
Document the Accident
As you wait for the police, take photos and videos of the accident scene to document the circumstances. Photograph all involved vehicles from multiple angles, including the license plate, leaks, and vehicle damage. Capture damage to your car’s interior, such as shattered glass and deployed airbags.
If the accident happened at an intersection, take pictures and videos of the traffic lights and road signs. Photograph any road conditions and visible skid marks on the pavement. The photos of the surrounding area can reveal if there was speeding or disregard for traffic signs at the time of the accident. Having this visual evidence can prove the extent of the accident to the insurance company or to the court, if needed.
Ask any nearby accident witnesses for their contact information so your lawyer can get in touch with them to get their testimony. They can describe all the circumstances of the accident, including what each driver did and how traffic lights were working at the time.
Only Discuss Facts with Law Enforcement
The law enforcement officer must conduct a crash investigation, speak with both drivers, and file an accident report. It is in your best judgment to do as they ask, while only discussing the accident details from your point of view.
The police officer will request the insurance cards and driver’s licenses from both drivers. They will also ask for the following to create a complete account of the accident:
- Time of the accident
- What you were doing before and after the accident
- Description of the weather and road conditions
- If anyone suffered injuries
- Damage to the vehicles
When speaking to the police officer, stick to the facts of the accident. Do not admit fault or make assumptions about what the other driver may have done, as these statements may be used against you.
The police will also take photos of the accident scene and draw a diagram of the accident for the police report. After they complete their summary, ask for the report number and when you can obtain a copy of the police report. The police report should contain the officer’s conclusion about the accident and the other driver’s contact information and insurance information.
For instance, if the Illinois State Police responded to your accident, you can go to their official website to obtain the crash report. The police officer can also let you know to pick up your report from their police station.
Don’t Ignore Your injuries After a Car Accident
You should still see your doctor for medical care if you haven’t suffered visible physical injuries. You might not realize you have suffered serious injuries such as whiplash, traumatic brain injuries, and spinal cord injuries because these sometimes take days or weeks to show symptoms.
If you experience headaches and nausea, these could be signs of a traumatic brain injury when the brain hits the skull suddenly. Symptoms of internal bleeding may include abdominal pain, lightheadedness, and discolored bruises. Any sign that there may be internal bleeding should prompt you to see a medical professional right away.
Inform your doctor of your accident when you arrive at the hospital or medical practice. They can then give you a physical examination and recommend a course of medical treatment. Your physician will note your injuries, symptoms, and treatment plan on official medical documents that you can use to build your case with your car accident attorney.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Although the other driver may be at fault for the accident, your insurance contract may require you to file a first-party claim for damages. The insurance adjuster can let you know the steps to financial compensation according to your insurance policy limits.
Your insurance provider may require the police report, vehicle repair receipts, and medical expenses for injuries resulting from the accident. If needed, your insurer may require you to undergo an independent medical exam to assess if the accident caused your injuries.
Before proceeding with the insurance claim process, contact an experienced lawyer specializing in personal injury claims to help you move forward and protect your rights to fair compensation.
Your legal representation can ensure that the insurance company doesn’t mislead you. They can also protect your rights if you must undergo an independent exam by making sure the physician doesn’t receive incentives from the insurance company for their determination about your injuries.
Don’t Negotiate with the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
If you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy, their insurance carrier may contact you to ask for a statement about the accident and ask for your permission to record it. However, the insurance company may use your statement against you to delay or deny compensation. You should refer them to your lawyer if they wish to obtain more details about the accident.
The other driver’s insurance adjuster may offer an auto accident settlement that does not cover your medical bills and damage to your property. An experienced attorney can negotiate on your behalf to ensure a fair settlement covering all your monetary damages.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
If your financial losses exceed the other driver’s insurance coverage limits, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer experienced in car accidents can put together a lawsuit to file within the two-year time limit for personal injury claims.
Your lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and safeguard your rights during the litigation process. They know what to expect from insurance companies and how to negotiate when they get pushed back.
Illinois follows modified comparative negligence law where you may only claim damages if you were 50% or less at fault for the accident. Your attorney can investigate your accident claim and gather evidence to reduce the percentage of fault. For instance, your lawyer from Nessler & Associates may prove the other party is fully responsible for your injuries, earning you maximum damages.
Don’t Discuss Your Case Online
You may be tempted to discuss your case with family members and friends. However, it is best to discuss details of your case only with your lawyer, not with family and friends online.
Anything you post on Facebook or Twitter could be used against you as evidence in court. If your relatives or friends continue to ask about the case, politely tell them that you won’t discuss the details until the conclusion of your case and a decision has been made.
Get Your Free Consultation Today
Your vigilance and attention to detail in the aftermath of an accident can go a long way to protecting your rights. When you talk with a personal injury attorney from Nessler & Associates, your attorney can be your best advocate for your legal interests.
We can negotiate on your behalf with aggressive insurance companies and prove your injuries and damages in court to gain you a fair settlement so you can get your life back.
We work on a contingency basis, so our fees are contingent on settling or winning your case. Call us today to schedule a free evaluation of your case and learn how we can help you.