Steps to Take After an Auto Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault
As auto accident attorneys in Cleveland, Ohio, we know that securing a fair settlement on a personal injury insurance claim becomes a lot easier when a crash victim takes the following steps after another driver hits him or her.
The victim may be too injured to do this, but state law requires each driver involved in a crash on a public street or highway to report the accident to police and emergency medical personnel. Whoever is capable of dialing 9-1-1 must do so immediately.
You should want to call police and EMTs to the scene even without pressure to comply with the legal mandate. Ensuring a rapid public safety response can save lives and minimize injuries. Getting police involved also ensures that an official investigation will be conducted to identify the cause and assign fault. The at-fault driver is responsible for compensating victims for medical bills, lost wages, disability, pain and suffering, and, in the worst cases, causing a wrongful death.
Go to the Emergency Room
Collecting on a personal injury claim following an auto accident requires submitting extensive records of treatment and therapy. The medical evidence grows even more important if claims get denied and filing a civil lawsuit becomes necessary. You will only have such evidence if you seek care.
You do not actually need to go the emergency room immediately, but doing so is a good idea. The symptoms of a concussion or internal injuries do not always show up right away but getting quick treatment is essential. What is most important is obtaining a diagnosis of a crash-related injury and documenting treatment for that injury.
And this should go without saying, but many of our clients have needed reminders: Hold on to every piece of paper and bill you receive from a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, and therapist. Having that paperwork will be essential for substantiating your insurance claims.
You will read and hear elsewhere that you should try to take pictures of the crash scene and that you must ask the other driver for his or her contact and insurance information. We acknowledge that doing these can be beneficial, but please consider all of that less important than calling 9-1-1 and seeking medical treatment. Trying to take pictures can put you in further danger, and the police will gather the other driver’s info.
Call Your Insurance Company
Do this as soon as you are physically and mentally able. Your policy almost surely requires it, and you should be able to depend on your own insurer to cover car repairs or replacement long before the other driver’s insurer pays any claims. Your company will deal with the other insurer on such matters.
You may also be able to get some medical coverage through your own policy. This will be especially important if you have limited or no health insurance.
Follow-Up With the Police to Get the Accident Report
Collecting on an auto accident insurance claim for a personal injury or a wrongful death requires showing that the other driver caused the crash by acting negligently or recklessly. Negligence could be speeding, failing to yield right of way, or ignoring a stop sign. Reckless driving could be operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, going the wrong way on the interstate, or traveling at more than 25 mph above the posted speed limit.
Police and state troopers who investigate auto accidents must, by law, write official reports that include their conclusions regarding which driver was at fault and why the collision occurred. Such reports include information that is essential for supporting arguments regarding negligence or recklessness.
Do Not Give a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Rep
A representative from the other driver’s insurance company will contact you and ask to write or record an official statement regarding the crash, your injuries, and the aftereffects of the injuries. Do not agree to give such a statement. You should also decline any requests to share your medical records with the other driver’s insurance rep.
Any information you give to the insurer will be treated as testimony and evidence that can be used against you. If you find it necessary to speak or meet with the other driver’s insurance rep, only do so in the presence of your own Cleveland, Ohio, auto accident attorney.
If you need help dealing with insurance matter following a car or truck crash in northeastern Ohio, consider reaching out to Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman to request a free legal consultation. You can schedule an appointment online or call (800) 678-3318 to speak with a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer.