Accidents happen. Even the most experienced drivers can find themselves in the middle of an accident. If you know what steps to take after you have been involved in an auto accident, you may be just a little less stressed. If you can follow those steps, you will have a better chance at protecting yourself and your legal rights. Before you speak to a car accident attorney, there are a few things you need to do.
Steps to take at the Scene
The first thing to remember is, never leave the scene of an auto accident in which you were involved. This is true regardless of whether the accident is minor and no one seems to be badly injured. The law in most states requires you to stop your car when you are involved in an accident, even if it was not your fault. If there are injuries, call for an ambulance. Do not try to provide first aid, unless you are qualified to do so. If not, you run the risk of making the situation worse.
Call the police and notify your insurance provider
Even in cases where there are no injuries and the damage is negligible, you need to call the police. First, you need to make sure there is a police report created regarding your accident. That report will likely be helpful later on, in the event you become involved in litigation regarding the accident. You will also need the police report when making an insurance claim for your injuries and any damage to your vehicle. You should also notify your insurance carrier about the accident as soon as you can and fully cooperate with their investigation of the accident.
Exchange Information with the other parties involved
It is imperative that you exchange contact and insurance information with the driver(s) of the other car(s) involved. It is also a good idea to obtain contact information for any witnesses that may have stopped. Witnesses can be invaluable in supporting your insurance claims as well as providing evidence if any lawsuits are filed.
However, remember that exchanging information does not mean discussing the possible cause of the accident or admitting fault to anyone at the scene. You should keep silent even if you believe you were at fault. Why? Because it may be that the other driver was equally, if not more to blame, than you are. Another reason to keep quiet immediately after an accident is that you will most likely be distraught and not thinking clearly.
Seek medical treatment immediately
Regardless of how slight your injuries might seem to you, you need to seek medical attention as soon after an auto accident as you possibly can. Also, be sure to explain to your health care providers that you were involved in an auto accident. That includes describing exactly what happened and how your injuries were sustained. Many times, the victims of an auto accident do not experience pain right away, nor do they discover the full extent of their injuries until much later.
What to do if you are injured or miss time at work
If you have sustained injuries as a result of an auto accident and you miss time at work because of those injuries, you could be entitled to damages from the at-fault party to the accident. There is also a possibility that you can receive compensation for your damages under your own auto insurance policy. You need to submit copies of your medical expenses and any other related expenses to your auto insurance provider, as well as the insurance company that provides liability coverage to the at-fault driver. If the person who actually caused the accident does not have insurance, you may be entitled to recover damages under the “uninsured motorist” coverage of your own auto insurance. Discuss these issues with your car accident attorney.
Contact your car accident attorney as soon as possible
If you are not certain of your rights or responsibilities, you should consult your car accident attorney as soon as possible because there are deadlines for filing a lawsuit. This time limit is known as the “statute of limitations.” If that deadline passes you will no longer be able to bring a lawsuit in court for your injuries and property damage.
This limitation period depends on many factors including the type of lawsuit you are bringing and what event triggered the time limit. Each state has its own laws regarding the statute of limitations. Auto accidents are considered personal injury claims. In Arkansas, the statute of limitations for an auto accident is three years and in Missouri, it is five years.
If you have questions regarding auto accidents or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
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