In horse-and-buggy days flighty stallions sometimes bolted and raced out-of-control down crowded streets. But, horses and "horse sense" and rarely drove head on into the next wagon. Without horses to guide us all the foibles of humanity into play. Are car accidents necessary? Probably not. But since they are a fact of life in modern America and since "forewarned is forearmed" here are some tips to help you cut your losses if you are involved in one.
STOP. Even if you just feel a bump on your car or think you might have hit someone or something, you should stop. Failing to stop could get you in a whole lot of trouble.
CALL THE POLICE AND REPORT THE ACCIDENT. If there has been an injury or the possibility of injury you should call the police. If the other drivers asks you not to involve the police, you should definitely call the police. From experience I can tell you that these people often don't have insurance and try to weasel out paying you later on. In twenty years I have only once seen at-fault driver make good on their promise to pay for damage after an accident. If your car is in an accident and the person driving was rendered physically incapable of making an accident report , then you, as the owner of the vehicle, should make sure the accident is reported to the police. If another driver causes an accident an accident but does not stop do your best to get the license number. Then call the police. Keep the witness at the scene till the police arrive. If you are injured in a no-contact accident caused by a driver who flees the scene you can be compensated by your uninsured motorist coverage. However, your carrier will require "Independent Proof" that another driver caused the accident.
EXCHANGE INFORMATION. Drivers must exchange names, addresses phone numbers and insurance information.
GATHER INFORMATION. Make a diagram of the accident, showing the position of the cars before, during, and after impact. Measure skid marks (if possible), or make sure the positions of traffic lights and street signs, estimate the respective driving speeds (for your own records), and record details about the weather and road conditions. If possible, have photographs taken of the accident scene and of any damage or injury to persons or vehicles. On the other hand, minor damage to your car or other cars can help you if you later pursue a claim against you. Once, when I was the testifying doctor at a settlement for my patient the insurance defense attorney obtained a photograph of the minor damage to my patients car and had it blown up to an exhibit measuring four feet by four feet. This was impressive to the jury who felt that minor damage to the car meant minor damage to the patient so they awarded a smaller than normal amount of money on the case.
DON'T ADMIT FAULT. You should cooperate with police officers investigating the case. Answer the police officers questions factually. Don't guess or estimate. Do not volunteer information or comment on the accident to the police witnesses, or other driver. Do not admit any fault for the accident. Do not sign any pieces of paper. In some states you may be asked to sign traffic tickets--but this in itself is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing. You must take an alcohol test if requested, or risk losing your license.
SEE A DOCTOR. As soon after the accident as possible, it would be a good idea to be checked out by a a doctor. Even if there are no initial signs of pain, there might have been damage done to the neck or spine. Sometimes people get injured in car accidents but because those injuries don't show up immediately, they don't seek medical treatment promptly. If a short time after your Brooklyn Park/Brooklyn Center/Minneapolis car crash, you or one of your passengers develop pain in the neck or back or you feel you're suffering from mental or emotional disability caused by injuries to the head, see a physician. if you have a head injury, you may need to see a neurologist. Head injuries can occur even though you don't hit your head. At very least consult a chiropractor with respect to back and neck injuries.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO INSURANCE COMPANIES. After the accident contact your insurance company to inform them of the accident. if the other driver was at fault report the accident to his insurance company. His/Her company should provide you with a rental car, if needed, and pay to fix it. Kelly Blue Book and NADA both have web sites where you can get information about the value of your car.
HOW TO DEAL SUCCESSFULLY WITH CLAIMS ADJUSTERS. You will likely be contacted by a claim adjuster from your own or another parties insurance company. Be careful about what you say. If you feel you have no injuries at the time and tell that to the adjuster, and later on it develops that you had injuries that you were unaware of, (this is very common in whiplash cases,) the adjuster is sure to bring up, in an effort to keep the settlement as low as possible. If the adjuster is not promptly providing you what, by law, you are entitled to, ask to speak with their supervisor. If that does not work out-----
CALL A LAWYER. You may want to talk to an attorney to clarify your rights and discuss questions of liability for the accident. And you might need help getting a rental car, getting all the damage repaired on your car, or getting fair value for your car if it is totaled.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SUED. If you are served with a complaint and summons and you have insurance just take the complaint and summons to your insurance agent. This would be the agent for the insurance you had at the time of the accident. Auto insurance covers you based on coverage on the date of the accident. If you changed insurance since the accident your prior insurance still has duty to defend you. If you were not covered by insurance you should consult a lawyer who specializes in insurance defense. It will be worth paying their hourly fee to have them protect your interests. You might be able to get the case dismissed by proving you were uninsured at the time of the accident. The injured person can then make a claim under their uninsured motorist coverage. Their uninsured motorist insurance may go after you for "subrogation". If that happens, your insurance defense lawyer can be a big help negotiating the best possible settlement of the claim. This may be a time to consider filing bankruptcy so a consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to discuss Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 should be scheduled.
Remember, if you have any further questions please feel free to contact us: 763-251-PAIN