Many people find themselves involved in a car accident at some point in their life. If the situation arises, it is essential to know what steps to take and how to protect your interests if you have been injured in an auto accident.
Evidence at the Scene of the Auto Accident
Get names and contact information for anyone involved in the accident or who witnessed the incident. If possible, take video and pictures of the accident site. Write down any statements they make at the scene. Take note of road and weather conditions as well as the location and direction each vehicle was traveling. Writing things down while the incident is fresh in your mind will help you accurately remember the accident.
Do not make statements that could be interpreted as taking responsibility for the accident. Avoid phrases such as “I’m sorry; I didn’t see you” or other similar expressions that could indicate the accident was your fault.
Obtain Medical Evaluation; Document Injuries
If you are injured in an auto accident, you may need to go to the emergency room or an urgent care facility for severe injuries. If your injuries are not life-threatening, see a doctor as soon as possible. You might be unsure, or your injuries may show up after some time has passed. Soft-tissue damage may not be apparent until days after an accident. It is not unusual for adrenaline to mask the pain of injuries at the time of an accident. Keep copies of all reports documenting your injuries; if possible, take photos of any wounds.
Report the Accident
If there were no police officers at the scene, you must file a written report of the accident with the local police within four days if there were injuries or damage over $500.
Organize Your Records
Document all of your medical expenses. Keep every invoice, bill, and receipt for any charge related to your injuries. This includes medications, parking, transportation fees, and any other out-of-pocket costs related to your treatment.
You will also need a copy of the police report. Assemble all of this documentation in preparation for contacting the insurance companies.
Contact Insurance Companies if you Have Been Injured in an Auto Accident
Notify your insurance company if you have been injured in an auto accident. Your insurance company is responsible for defending you if the other party retains a lawyer and sues you.
Contact the other driver’s insurance company. If you hire a private attorney to assist you, the insurance company will need to go through your lawyer and not contact you directly. The claims adjuster will interview you. Be careful when answering a claim’s adjuster’s questions; they often look for information they can use against you. It is wise to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss the best way to handle discussions with the adjuster. Keep detailed notes about your interactions with the insurance companies.
During negotiations with the insurance company, keep in mind that they are a business and will try to settle for as little as possible. While it doesn’t seem fair, insurance companies are notorious for offering unrepresented parties less than someone represented by an experienced car accident attorney. While it might be possible to handle this situation yourself, it may not be to your financial advantage to proceed without consulting a lawyer. A car accident lawyer knows what your claim is worth and how to get what you deserve. Another factor to consider is Washington’s Contributory Fault statutes which reduce your settlement by the percentage of fault you are alleged to have in causing the accident. This issue can be particularly tricky to handle without an experienced lawyer to protect your interests.
Call us today at (206) 309- 5854 or [email protected] for a free evaluation of your case.