Your morning drive to work or a family road trip can end in severe injuries from a car accident through no fault of your own. The negligent actions of another driver can permanently alter your life.
However, proving that you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages may be more challenging than you initially think. Even egregious instances of wrongdoing on the part of the other driver – such as texting and driving, driving under the influence, etc. – can be difficult to establish without qualified legal guidance and support.
The car accident attorneys at Colombo Law can help you pursue fair compensation in the aftermath of a crash. Our lawyers can also advise you of the do’s and don’ts in your case.
Steps to Take Right After the Car Accident
As the dust settles, take stock of your personal injuries and property damage. If you have passengers in the vehicle, check their health and safety before seeing if the person in the other car is alright. If medical attention is necessary, call 9-1-1 to receive emergency help. Do not move an injured person and stay with them until help arrives instead.
Contact the police or dial 9-1-1 to have an officer come to the scene of the accident. You may not think a police report is necessary if the injuries are minor or you don’t notice any discomfort at all, but the shock from the car crash may prevent you from feeling these aches and pains until much later. A police report will back up your claim that you are not at fault and provide detailed notes about what happened from an impartial party.
While you wait for the police to arrive, move the vehicles to the side of the road if possible. You should also do the following:
- Take photos of vehicle damage and the entire scene of the accident.
- Write down your recollection of the collision while it’s fresh in your mind and continue to do so as you get medical treatment for your injuries.
- Collect the name, address, phone number, and insurance name and policy number from the at-fault driver.
- Identify and speak with witnesses to the crash, collect their contact information, and ask them to stick around to share their version of events with the police officer for the police report.
You will likely need a police report, no matter how seemingly minor the car accident. The officer’s notes will provide leverage for your car accident claim, especially if the other driver was issued a traffic ticket.
When you get home, you might be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Do not speak with the adjuster or another representative without an auto accident attorney, as the insurer will likely try to devalue your claim and offer a low settlement that won’t cover the full value of your claim. If you agree to the settlement offer, you forfeit your right to bring a claim for compensation – even if your injuries get worse or you incur additional costs.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
The at-fault driver’s insurance will likely cover damages if the police report establishes that the other driver was negligent. Sometimes the lack of a police report and missing details such as photos and witness testimony can complicate your claim, causing the other driver’s insurance provider to deny coverage.
Your insurance provider may challenge the other company or cover your damages, but your injuries and expenses may exceed the settlement offer. Hiring a lawyer is the best way to ensure that the insurance company pays the total amount you’re owed for your past and ongoing medical costs and other damages.
Enlisting help from a lawyer improves your likelihood of obtaining a fair settlement. A knowledgeable attorney can determine what your case is worth and fight on your behalf when insurance refuses to pay what you deserve.
Complex liability is another reason to speak to a lawyer promptly after an accident that is not your fault. Sometimes, more than the driver who caused the accident may be liable. For example, the vehicle’s manufacturer might be liable if a car defect caused the crash.
What Factors Influence My Compensation After a Car Accident?
Sometimes the evidence shows that the victim may be partially responsible for the car accident. If this is the case, your recovery is deducted by the percentage you are considered at fault.
Many car accident victims don’t know all of the factors that influence their potential compensation. A car accident lawyer can advise you of these and other important considerations in your claim:
- Police report: Was a ticket issued or an arrest made? What was the officer’s opinion on fault?
- Medical care: How quickly did you seek medical care? Did you go to the emergency room and/or your primary care physician? Were there follow-up visits?
- Pre-existing injuries: Did the crash worsen pre-existing injuries? Did you get new X-rays and other imaging and examinations to show further damage?
- Driving record: Were you or the at-fault driver previously issued a DUI or DWI? Is there a history of reckless driving?
- Social media: Do not post statements about the accident on any social media platforms. Insurance companies often scrutinize claimants’ social media profiles for posts that can help them dispute liability for accidents.
- Work attendance: How many days of work did you miss after the accident? Is your work capacity diminished due to your injuries?
- Insurance policy limits: Insurance policies have limits on compensation for personal injury. Suppose your medical expenses and the total impact of your injuries exceed that amount. In that case, your insurance policy may cover the difference, or a car accident lawyer can pursue other legal options to cover the costs.
Car accident claims provide two forms of damages. Economic damages cover the monetary losses from the crash, such as medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle damage, rental cars, and towing fees. Non-economic damages cover the pain and suffering you endure as a result of the collision, including PTSD, depression, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fear of driving, and loss of enjoyment of life. A car accident lawyer will calculate both forms of damages in building your claim.
Should I Contact the Insurance Company If I Am Not at Fault?
Yes, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company promptly to maintain your eligibility for coverage. However, it is crucial to provide only the basic facts and refrain from discussing details or sharing your opinion.
The insurance adjuster at one or both companies may ask you to provide a recorded statement or authorize the release of your medical records. You should not submit to either of these requests, as the insurer(s) could use the information to dispute your claim or offer less than you deserve.
Will My Premium Go Up If I Am Not at Fault?
When you consider that your insurance company doesn’t have to pay a settlement when the accident is not your fault, you hope your insurance premium won’t go up. If you are not at fault, your monthly price should not change. However, you may see an increase when you renew your insurance policy.
According to the 2021 State of Auto Insurance Report released by The Zebra, an at-fault collision raises insurance rates an average of $629. If you are wrongly accused of causing the accident, it is of the utmost importance to present evidence to the contrary. Failure to do so may result not only in less compensation than you deserve for your accident-related losses, but higher insurance premiums that you should not have to pay.
You should not have to bear the costs if someone else is at fault for a car accident that caused you serious injury or led to the death of a loved one. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against you until you seek legal guidance.
At Colombo Law, our attorneys are committed to leveling the playing field on our clients’ behalf. We have achieved millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements in car accident claims, and we will put our experience and results to work for you.
Please call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today for a free case review. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Columbus and throughout Ohio.