It’s every driver’s worst nightmare — you’ve been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault. Now, you have to deal with the insurance companies and find time to get your car repaired. Not to mention, you’re worried about getting adequate compensation for the damages to your car, your time and any injuries you may be suffering from.
In some cases, it can be extremely helpful to get a lawyer to work through the legal aspects of your case and work with the other driver’s insurance company on your behalf. This is especially true if you have sustained injuries as a result of the accident.
Insurance companies often do not offer fair settlements to compensate for your injuries and damages. You may not be aware of the damages you are legally entitled to recover. With an experienced lawyer on your side, you can ensure you’re being fairly compensated.
Read on to learn what to do after a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT
- Providing you aren’t severely injured, you need to exchange information with the other driver. Even if you feel overwhelmed and are struggling to process what happened, don’t apologize to the other driver — stick to the facts and do your best to stay calm.
- Saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see you” can imply your fault in the accident. Be cautious about your language, especially if you’re unsure about what happened.
- Call the police to the scene.
- While you are waiting, take photos of both vehicles before they are moved. If it’s safe to do so, get photos from multiple angles. And if you are injured and unable to take photos, find someone who will do so for you.
Get full insurance information from the other driver, including the company name and policy information. Additionally, make sure you know:
- The other driver’s full name and address
- Contact information and statements from any witnesses (the police should handle the statements)
Let your insurance company know that you’ve been in an accident. It’s good to let them know, but you may not need to start a claim immediately — this depends on many circumstances. The other driver’s insurance company will ultimately be issuing any compensation. Sometimes, you will have to rely on your own company to things like property damage, medical expensive and the cost of a rental car. When you let your company know about the accident, you are establishing good-faith reporting as well.
AFTER THE ACCIDENT
Let the other driver’s insurance agency know that you’ve been in an accident with one of their policy holders. Often, at-fault drivers are reluctant to report an accident to their insurance company. When you call, make sure you stay calm and stick to the facts. Don’t blame the other driver, even if you’re confident that they’re at fault.
There are some situations in which the other driver will almost always be considered at fault; however, you will have to have proof, like an eyewitness. These situations include if the other driver:
- Was intoxicated or under the influence at the time of the accident
- Ran a red light or a stop sign
- Failed to give way when you were obeying traffic laws
- Rear-ended your car
If one of these situations is the case for your accident, it’s unlikely you’ll be at fault. You should still treat the accident the same way though — their fault isn’t a complete guarantee.
It’s important that you get any communication with the other driver’s insurance company in writing — that way you have proof should you move forward with a repair only for them to try to say they didn’t authorize it.
Remember too, that you get to choose where you get your car repaired. Insurance companies are allowed to make recommendations, and those recommendations may be presented to you as if you have no choice — but in most circumstances, you do. As a lawyer or your insurance agent for guidance.
IF YOUR CLAIM IS DENIED
If the other driver’s insurance company deny your claim, you may feel completely stuck. You can file with your insurance company, but you’ll still have to pay the deductible toward the body work. This isn’t always the best option, even though it won’t necessarily increase your policy rate.
This is the right time to consider hiring a lawyer. A lawyer can represent you and protect your against the other driver’s insurance company. We don’t advise taking on the insurance company alone — while you may feel like the case is clear cut, keep in mind that major insurance companies have large, experienced legal teams. Unfortunately, you won’t get anywhere fighting them alone.
Finally, make sure you understand that even if the police report cites the other driver as “at fault”, the insurance company will make their own assessment — and it’s entirely possible that they may not fault their policy holder. This police report will be important in the settlement though, so make sure that the police come to the scene of the accident and write one. It's for this reason that you should avoid giving a statement to the insurance company with out the advice of counsel.
Protect yourself and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
SO WHAT CAN A LAWYER DO?
A qualified personal injury attorney will always advise against talking to the insurance company without legal representation. An experienced lawyer can help you:
- Establish liability by preserving evidence and interviewing witnesses
- Ensure you have insurance matters in order so that you receive proper medical care
- Help you understand the law, including statutes of limitations
- Collect necessary medical records and help you properly document injuries, helping you receive full compensation
- Ensure you receive the compensation to which you are rightfully entitled
- Negotiate a settlement that takes into account all future medical and financial needs
Even if you’re unsure about your case, you should reach out to a well-reputed lawyer. Many don’t charge for initial consultations, helping to gain some clarity before making a commitment. Reseach your choice of a lawyer carefully — you should rely on the experience of the lawyer and the advice of those you trust.
STEALEY LAW & MEDIATION | WV AUTO ACCIDENT LAWYER
Stealey Law and Mediation provides superior client representation in a compassionate, dedicated and professional manner. At Stealey Law, we believe the law is an honorable profession designed to help and protect people. Our goal is to do what is right, treat others with respect and work to achieve the results our clients deserve. We’re mindful of the fact that the cases we handle are emotional and difficult experiences for our clients. We make it a point to check-in on a regular basis to answer questions and offer support.
If you think you may have an auto accident case, you can schedule a free consultation with our experienced firm. Click below.