A car accident is an extremely stressful and scary situation to find yourself in. The effects often last far beyond those few terrifying moments of the crash. If you’ve ever been involved in an accident, you may have found your head spinning with questions about what to do next. There are a variety of matters to consider during this difficult time.
There are a few rules of thumb you should keep in mind in the immediate aftermath of an accident:
- Park off-road – If your vehicle is still driveable, bring your car off-road and into a safe place while you wait for authorities to arrive.
- Call the police – Alert the authorities so that they can come investigate the scene.
- Check for injuries – Check yourself and any passengers for injuries, and seek medical attention if necessary.
- Take photos – Take pictures of both vehicles and the accident scene. These could be useful for determining the at-fault driver.
- Speak with the other driver – Although not necessary, most drivers will speak with the other party after an accident. Keep this brief and do not discuss any details of the accident. Simply exchange insurance information and wait for authorities to arrive.
It may be difficult to focus immediately after an accident, but try to keep these points in mind in order to protect yourself.
Should I Speak With The Police?
Yes. It’s important to treat the police as an ally in this situation. They will speak with each driver to get both sides of the story, and combine these statements with evidence to determine the at-fault driver. Make sure to request a copy of the police report.
Why Should I Get A Police Report?
Victims may be biased or have difficulty remembering details from the crash. A police report provides an account of the facts. Insurance companies and car accident lawyers will evaluate the police report when handling financial compensation or lawsuits.
How Do I Know Who’s At-Fault?
In many cases, the police report will be sufficient for proving fault after an accident. However, many car accidents are complex and may have been caused by a variety of factors. Because of these complexities, it’s usually wise to consult a car accident attorney in order to fully uncover the details of the crash.
How Should I Deal With My Insurance Company?
Call your insurance company and provide them with the police report and the other driver’s insurance information. There’s no need to go beyond this basic information, and you should avoid making a recorded statement for the adjuster until you’ve spoken with an attorney.
Should I Contact The Other Driver’s Insurance Company?
No. There is no reason to speak with the other insurance company. Doing so has no real benefit and can only hurt your case. Anything you say will be recorded and may be used against you. Instead, let your insurance company and lawyer deal with the other insurance company.
What Should I Do If Their Insurance Company Contacts Me?
If an insurance adjuster from the other driver’s company contacts you, tell them that you are not going to make a statement until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. You are only obligated to communicate with your own insurance company.
No. Signing a medical release form gives the insurance company access to all of your medical records – including records from before the accident. This could later be used against you in a civil court case and prevent you from receiving compensation.
Should I Always Meet With A Doctor?
Yes. Whether you feel you need medical attention or not, it’s always wise to visit with a doctor immediately after a car accident. Don’t dismiss muscle pain as normal after an accident – this pain may be a warning sign of a more serious injury.
How Will I Pay My Medical Bills?
Your insurance company will initially pay for medical bills. However, most plans have a cap which limits the amount the company is required to pay. Once this cap is reached, the company will use subrogation against the at-fault driver’s policy in order to cover their losses. For those victims who have damages which exceed their insurance cap limits, a lawsuit can help to recover additional compensation.
How Does PA’s Choice No-Fault Policy Work?
No-fault insurance policies dictate that each driver’s insurance company will handle their client’s expenses following an accident, regardless of which driver was at fault for the accident. Pennsylvania is one of three states which offer a “choice” no-fault policy. In PA, this means that you have the choice between full tort and limited tort plans. Limited tort customers rescind their right to sue for pain and suffering, except in cases of “serious bodily injury”. Full tort customers reserve the right to sue for pain and suffering without this restriction.
What If The Other Driver Is Uninsured?
While all drivers are required by law to be insured, about 12% of drivers choose to drive without insurance. Auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage, which will help pay for some of your expenses. However, this coverage is often insufficient for handling all of expenses after an accident. In these situations, a lawsuit may help to bridge the gap.
A lawsuit can help recover a variety of expenses you may face after an accident. You may receive compensation for unmanageable medical expenses which exceed your insurance cap, lost wages, quality of life, pain and suffering, and wrongful death for the families of fatal accident victims.
How Long Do I Have To File A Claim?
In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years for a car accident lawsuit. After two years, you may lose the opportunity to seek financial compensation from the at-fault driver.
What Should I Provide For My Lawyer?
We recommend gathering a few important documents for an attorney consultation. Bring medical records, the police report, insurance documents, photos of the accident scene, and pay stubs to account for lost wages. The more information you can provide the better, but a good attorney will help you to fill in any gaps.
How Much Will A Lawsuit Cost Me?
Our lawyers offer free consultations, so that we can determine the strength of your case before beginning work. We also work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing unless you are awarded financial compensation in court. Then, our fees come directly out of your compensation. We discuss these fees with you upfront so there are no surprises.