After a Car Accident
What to do next...
Immediately after the accident
Take care of yourself and those in your vehicle.
Contact emergency services as needed.
Have the police write a report.
Get as much information about the other parties involved in the accident.
If you can, record what the other party says.
Obtain any witness information.
Take as many photos of the scene as possible and of all the damages that result from the accident.
Contact your insurance company.
DO NOT ADMIT FAULT!
Understand how the at-fault carrier will work to handle your claim.
An insurance company is not your friend, and their goal is to serve their bottom line, not you, even if you are their policyholder.
Often you or your loved ones are just a task to be completed by the insurance adjuster. If the claims adjuster works for a large insurance company, there is a chance that he or she is under so much pressure that he or she will not conduct a quality investigation and will hastily reach certain conclusions.
That being said, I would encourage any one of my clients to handle their own vehicle damages with their own insurance company, if they have the coverage. The adverse insurance carrier has a number of things to complete before they start handling your claim. The other insurance company has to do or has to have the following:
The claim must be reported to the adverse insurance company, sometimes this must be done by their own policyholder. (This may not be the driver of the at-fault vehicle.)
They must determine if there is coverage under the insurance policy. (This can take from minutes to a few months from my experience.)
They must determine who is at fault for the accident. (A liability investigation can take a few days or if there is a dispute about who is at fault, the investigation can take months.)
They must determine that there is enough insurance to cover the damages if they are to handle the claim. (This may be a concern that depends upon how many people and vehicles are involved, or the severity of the accident.)
Understand that you or your loved one has a reasonable duty to mitigate or prevent further damages. Just because the adverse insurance carrier is taking its time to decide to handle your claim does not mean that you will be able to recover expenses that you incurred while waiting for their decision.
Exercise caution when talking about your injuries. (Some insurance companies try to settle a claim with the injured person as soon as possible because they know that the pain and the severity of the injury may not be apparent until several days after the accident. Also, they want to keep the injured person from seeking legal counsel.)
If the at-fault person does not have insurance, you may have an uninsured motorist bodily injury claim. Your own insurance company will have to investigate to see if such coverage is applicable.
Handling the injury claim
Please get help and document everything!
If you or a loved one is hurt in an accident, document everything pertaining to the injuries. Take pictures of injuries, if there are any external injuries. Keep a journal about how the injuries have affected your quality of life. Know that if you are filing an uninsured motorist bodily injury claim, your policy may have certain requirements that must be met. In Tennessee, the statute of limitations in most situations is a year for personal injury cases. This means a person only has one year from the date of the incident to recover for their damages, unless a law suit is filed.
If you are hurt in an car accident, you do not have to go through the process of recovery alone. Act quickly and let Easterbrook Law help you.