A Detailed Guide To Help You Easily Deal With Everything After A Car Crash
While car crashes are an unfortunately common occurrence, the effects they can have on your life can be long and strenuous. Considering the hundreds of millions of vehicles on the roads that travel trillions of miles every year, if you are a car owner or a professional driver and you haven’t ever been in an accident, you are a statistical anomaly. Maybe you just have really good luck, and let’s hope it stays that way, but it doesn’t hurt to know what you should do in the unfortunate case that you or a loved one of yours falls victim to a car accident.
Broadly speaking, managing a car crash situation can be divided into two main sections. The first is how you should handle the situation at the site of the crash itself, right after the incident takes place. If you are one of the victims these are the steps you need to follow and if you need to help a friend who has been in a car crash, this is what you should be advising them to do.
The second step is managing the financial and legal repercussions of the incident. Depending on where you are, who or what caused the accident, and the type and the extent of the damage the accident has caused, there are various approaches that could be taken up. This section will also cover the different options that you have at your disposal. While approaching your insurance to handle the matter might seem like the rational thing to do, this is not necessarily the most effective or appropriate solution.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to trial and settle the matter in court, several cases can and are settled via alternative legal processes. You can resolve things through mediation, arbitration, or involve insurance claims and reach a settlement. In this section, we will evaluate the legal significance of each type and why you would consider one over the other. As a victim of a car accident and as a person who went through the experience themselves, it might be easy for you to say whose fault it was to reach a definitive conclusion. However, trying to reach the same conclusion through a legal framework in light of relevant and applicable laws, is an entirely different matter. The car accident is one headache in itself, and even in straightforward cases, getting the legal representation and lawful compensation that you deserve, can be another.
What To Do Right After The Car Crash- Step 1
What’s done is done, and panicking right after the accident is not going to do you any good. You need to stay calm and collected and start by checking on the driver and passengers. Do not attempt to flee the scene in any circumstance, this could entail serious legal implications for you if the passengers of the other vehicle are injured or have died. Even if it is a minor accident, make sure all your passengers are breathing, conscious, and are responsive to communication. Accidents can lead to injuries that don’t surface right away, so don’t make any sudden moves, let everyone sit still for a few moments, and get themselves together.
- Contact Police
Before getting out of the vehicle and evaluating it for damages, the first thing you need to do is call the police, and if anyone is injured or unconscious, call an ambulance. Regardless of how big or small of an accident it is, the purpose of contacting the police is to file a police report as soon as you can. This is the first legal step you need to take and the police report is a very valuable legal document that will help you in the entire process. If the police arrive on the scene, ask the officers for their names and badge numbers and note this down for yourself, later you can get a copy of the police report from the local police station. If it’s a small incident, you can drive over to the local police station and file a report.
- Identify With The Other Party
Go over to the other party and note down vital information such as the drivers’ name, his/her license number, and address. You will also need to take note of the vehicle’s registration details, number plate data, and insurance details. If there is more than one driver involved, get this information for all the involved drivers. If there are passengers in the other car, it may be useful to note down their names, addresses, and contact numbers as well. Similarly, provide your own details to them.
While you are exchanging information be very careful not to say anything in which you claim responsibility or blame them for anything. You only need to get the information and be cooperative, nothing else. Your job is not to identify who was at fault or discuss this problem at this time. Laws on car accidents and regulations vary for every state and who is at fault doesn’t determine who has to pay, whatever you say during this time could expose you to legal liability.
- Contact Support
If you are insured, get in touch with your insurance company and the person who manages your policy, moreover, if you have legal cover get in touch with your attorney and update these people about the situation. Even though it’s preferable to have legal representation through a car accident lawyer for these situations, even if you can get a general attorney it’s better than nothing. This doesn’t mean it will be a legal case right away, but at least you will get advice and direction on how to handle things so that if you need to pursue legal channels later, you are prepared.
Right from the get-go you want to be documenting everything that happens in the accident situation. The very first thing you should have documented by this stage are the details of the vehicle and driver that you had the collision with. However, don’t limit yourself to just written documents, take pictures of both vehicles, the site of the crash, or make a video of the entire situation. If there are eyewitnesses, you can record their statements in audio format and even the statements of the person you collided with. These will all be useful pieces of evidence that you can present to insurance companies and legal authorities.
Managing Legal And Financial Compensation – Step 2
Keep in mind that the aim of the insurance companies is always to either get off the hook by making it seem like your fault or try to get you to settle for the smallest amount possible. The attorney who is defending the other person will also try to blame you for the problem and prove their client innocent while making you pay for the damage or making you walk away without any compensation from the person they are advocating.
Nature Of The Incident
There is also a chance that you might have had what is legally known as a one-car accident. You might have hit a tree, your car might have been vandalized or you might have had an accident with a natural phenomenon such as falling rocks, landslides, or flowing water.
If it was a two or more car accident, it’s very important to consider who you have had a collision with. One possibility is that you have hit another civilian who is the owner of a private vehicle that is used for personal use, and he or she was driving it themselves. You could also have had an accident with a commercial driver, this could include things such as company vehicles, public taxis, trucks, or any other kind of vehicle that was being used for commercial purposes. Furthermore, you could also have had an accident with a government-owned vehicle, or a vehicle being driven by a government employee.
These all make a tremendous impact on the case and how things will be taken up. If you or the other party does not have insurance, that is also a tangent to keep in mind. Also, it’s important to consider the location of the accident, the time, and the situation of the event. Even though these things may seem irrelevant when looking at whose fault it was, they have a lot of significance in the court of law as they are all considerations that an arbitrator or a judge would keep in mind.
Which Route To Follow
The very first step will be for your lawyer to contact the other party’s insurance provider and communicate to them that an accident claim is underway. In the case that the insurance provider for the other party gets in touch with you, refer them to your lawyer and let them talk, do not attempt to talk, negotiate or discuss the problem with the insurance companies. Their aim is going to be to twist your words and use them against you.
When your lawyer gets in touch with the insurance or the other party completely depends on the situation. If you are fit to pursue the matter right away, they can start right then, if you are injured or aren’t ready to tackle the situation at the moment, then you could do it later.
However, there is usually a time limit within which you need to make a move known as the statute of limitations. Usually, insurers will have a 30 day period within which you need to report the incident for it to be eligible for claims, while statute for limitations for courts will vary by state. The statute of limitations can also vary depending on the nature of the accident, for example, claims that involve a government agency generally have a smaller statute of limitations. However, in the case that you are dealing with an accident claim that is against a government agency’s vehicle, it gets a bit more technical.
If everything goes smoothly you should be able to settle things with an insurance claim. If for some reason that doesn’t suffice, then before court trials you can still resort to mediation to resolve the matter. For mediation, you can have neutral, such as a third-party attorney, who can listen to the viewpoint of both sides, consider the specifics of the matter and help both parties reach a middle ground and negotiate the matter.
If that doesn’t work, you can go for arbitration. The main difference between a mediation using an attorney and arbitration is that in the latter the person, or panel of people, arbitrating the matter will usually be retired judges. There are various forms of arbitrations such as binding and non-binding arbitrations, the type that will be used will depend on the severity and the magnitude of the case.
If the case is going to trial, the trial judge may also consider trying to reach a solution for the parties involved by conducting pretrial conferences and seeing if the parties can reach a settlement.
Finally, if none of the above are of use in trying to sort out the conflict, there is the option of going to trial through a court that has jurisdiction in the matter. While this may seem like a solution that will provide justice, it can be a very lengthy process, it’s not uncommon for cases to take several years to reach the courtroom because of the immense backlog of pending cases. Moreover, the experts that are required to take up the matter in court are expensive to hire, and when combined with the fact that this is a time-consuming process, it could represent a significant sum of money. Moreover, the juries that participate in these hearings are also a factor to consider. Jury members are highly influenced by factors that have little to do with the facts, pieces of evidence, and realities of the case, adding more complexity to the case and making it more difficult for defendants to win a verdict that addresses their problems.
The route that you should take for your particular case boils down to the nature of the case itself. The purpose is to win a decision that sufficiently compensates you for the loss that you have incurred whether it is physical or financial. In this entire situation, if you can use the assistance of a qualified legal expert it will make it that much easier for you to reach a favorable decision fast. Even if it costs you a bit more, getting expert assistance is something that will work out in your favor in the long run.