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What To Do When You Get In a Car Accident

Learn what you need to do after you or a loved one has been in a vehicular accident. It is better to learn this crucial information now and never need it, than to need the information someday and not have it! Let’s take a look at some of the most common topics of confusion for accident victims immediately after an accident, ranging from the concept of “fault”, what steps to take directly after an accident, when to invoke the use of a personal injury attorney, and how your insurance works to help you after your accident.

Injured In a Car Accident and It’s Not Your Fault?

Depending on which state you live in, “fault” may or may not come into play with regard to your accident. Currently there are 12 states which feature no-fault auto insurance laws (though there are slight variations between some of the states): Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah.

For all other states, known as fault states or tort states, fault IS used in determining insurance payouts. In fault states, the at-fault driver's insurance provider will traditionally help pay for repairs, medical bills, and other potential losses, through that driver's liability coverage.

Drivers in no-fault states are often required to carry personal injury protection insurance (regularly referred to as PIP Insurance). After an accident has occurred, each driver's insurance provider pays for the insured individual’s medical expenses up to a certain monetary threshold.

Regardless of which type of state you live in, it is still important to gather as much information as you can while at the accident scene. Take photographs, talk with eyewitnesses, etc., as this information will be helpful for your insurance company, and even potentially for an attorney.

What To Do If You Have Been Injured In a Car Accident?

The moments directly after an accident can be some of the scariest and most stressful that a person can experience. Not knowing the extent of your injuries or the injuries of everyone else involved can be very traumatic. It is still important to try to remember several key steps to help ensure the safety of you and those around you.

  • Take a deep breath and remain calm
  • Check for injuries; call 911 if you’re unsure
  • If the accident isn’t severe, move cars out of harm’s way
  • Turn on your vehicle's hazard lights for safety
  • Call the police
  • Make detailed notes about the crash, including specific damages to all involved vehicles, witness info, etc.
  • Be polite, but never admit fault
  • State only facts when questioned, and limit your accident discussions to the police and your insurance company
  • Try not to leave the accident scene before the police and other drivers do

If you follow these steps, you can rest assured that you are taking the necessary post-accident actions to help ensure a proper resolution.

Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

Whether or not a personal injury attorney will be necessary for your claim is dependent on several variables. If no one involved in the accident has been hurt, the answer is probably no. Though, if you or a loved one has been injured, especially if there is any form of debilitating, permanent injury, you should see a lawyer about representing you in a claim against any potentially guilty parties. Provided below are several instances where contacting a personal injury attorney after an auto accident are particularly important:

  • A death has occurred as a result of the accident
  • Serious injuries to yourself or a passenger
  • The other party is at fault
  • An incorrect police report has made you appear more at fault than you really are
  • You have no insurance (or are underinsured)
  • The accident took place within a construction zone
  • Looking for advice on a settlement claim’s value
  • If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith

Lawyer Calculator’s Personal Injury database contains contact information for thousands of experienced accident attorneys, if you believe you require the assistance of an attorney after an accident.

How Does Your Car Insurance Work?

In the unfortunate event that you get into an automobile accident, it is critically important that you alert your insurance provider within 7 days of the accident, even if you are not at fault. If you do not contact your insurance company or broker in a timely manner, they may be under no obligation to honor your claim.

When reaching out to your insurer, they are going to have many questions for you regarding your accident, so it is important that you are prepared with as much as information as possible when dealing with them. Information like policy number, the make, model, and year of your vehicle, the location and date of the accident, the extent of your injuries and the injuries of any passengers, the damage to your vehicle, a thorough description of the accident, and the badge number of the investigating police officer will all be helpful.

After this initial conversation, you will put into contact with your insurance claims adjuster, who will be examining your claim, and eventually will make a determination regarding “fault” and your settlement. Your claims adjuster will decide the extent to which the claim is covered by your policy, and help guide you through the entirety of the claims process.

If, after your adjuster has made a determination regarding your claim settlement, you do not agree with their judgement, it may be necessary to involve an attorney.