Protect yourself by taking the right medical, financial and legal action after any car crash.
There you are, sitting in traffic and suddenly you hear the unmistakable sound of screeching tires. Before you have time to react, BOOM! You have just been involved in a car accident. Now what?
First and foremost, check to see if everyone involved is medically stable. If you are certified to do so, provide first aid where necessary. If you have heard horror stories of good Samaritans being sued after providing first aid, don’t worry. In most cases Washington has what is referred to as Special Immunity (RCW 4.24.300) that may protect you from being held liable in these situations.
Call the authorities
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Contact authorities right away and ask that a police report be made. Too many times the story will change a couple days after the accident. With no real evidence to fall back on it becomes a “he said, she said” scenario. From there, the insurance claim can quickly find its way into the courtroom or worse, be denied altogether. Police are trained to recover necessary facts which can be essential in determining the outcome of a claim.
How did the accident happen? Who was involved? Who are the insurance companies for all parties? This information is essential when pursuing a claim for property damage or bodily injury. Do everything you can to recover as much of this information as possible while you are at the scene of the accident.
Seek medical treatment
By this point you may have taken an ambulance ride to a hospital. If not, and you are cleared medically to leave the scene, you should make an appointment to be checked out by a doctor. Injuries are often masked by the adrenaline that comes about when an accident occurs. Less severe injuries, also known as soft tissue injuries, are compensable injuries but failure to be evaluated and treated may result in a smaller injury claim.
Notify your insurance company
Even if you are not at fault for the accident you need to put your car insurance company on notice. This is done for two reasons: one, you are probably required to do so by the terms or your policy; two, there may be additional coverage you didn’t realize you had. Just be careful not to disclose information about your medical condition(s) especially if you have not yet seen a doctor.
Track and record losses
The non-at fault party may be able to recover such damages as: medical expenses, lost wages and benefits, pain and suffering, travel reimbursement; property damage (i.e. damaged vehicle, broken cellphone, car seats) and the list goes on. It is imperative to track all of your losses the best you can in order to be reimbursed by the insurance company.
Seek legal advice
Most insurance companies offer great customer service, but it is important to remember they have a duty to protect their own interests and not yours. It is your duty to mitigate your damages and advocate for your insurance claim. If you are not confident in your own knowledge of insurance law and personal injury law, call a qualified law firm for help. Do not sign anything or make a recorded statement with any insurance company before speaking to a lawyer or law firm. A good personal injury firm should offer you a free consultation so you can better understand your rights and what options you may have.
Only discuss your case with authorities, your attorneys, medical personnel, and trusted private parties like your spouse or significant other. Also be mindful of what you are posting on social media. Insurance companies have been known to troll social media sources of the person making a claim for injuries in attempts to discredit them. Example: you are claiming your injuries are keeping you from working and earning wages yet you are seen on social media shredding the slopes of Crystal Mountain.
Learn more about Phillips Law Firm and their commitment to justice for those injured by the negligence and carelessness of others. For more information about injury claims you can download their free informational eBook titled “Washington Injury Guide.”