What to do when you are involved in a collision:
- Report the collision to the police.
Many things can be forgotten or overlooked due to the stress involved in a collision. Law enforcement officers are trained in documenting collisions and know the important information to collect.
Even if the collision seems to be minor or if people are in a hurry, it is especially important to call law enforcement to document the facts of the collision. Insurance carriers can delay the process because there is no police report or can devalue a claim because there isn't proper documentation of the collision. Insist on a police report.
Even if someone “admits” fault for the collision, the driver can change their story later or the driver's insurance carrier can deny being at fault for a variety of reasons. Law enforcement officers will interview all drivers, passengers, and witnesses and determine fault.
- Get the name, address, and phone number for all drivers involved and any bystanders.
You should document the name, address, and telephone phone number for all drivers and bystanders. Taking a photo of a person's driver's license is helpful, but make sure to confirm their physical address as opposed to a post office box.
- Write down the insurance and registration information for all drivers.
Determining the “right” insurance policy for coverage can be complicated as a driver's insurance can be different from the vehicle's insurance. There are many reasons for this: the driver might be borrowing a car from a friend or family member; the driver might be driving a work vehicle; or the car might be uninsured, but the driver is insured. Make sure to write down (or take a photo of) the insurance card and registration certificate for all drivers and vehicles involved.
- Take photos of all vehicles and any apparent injuries.
While at the scene of the collision, make sure to take photos of the location and positioning of all cars; all property damage; and of the road conditions. Cell phone cameras make it easy to take pictures right at the scene. Remember – having too many photos is better than not having enough.
If you have observable injuries – however mild – please take photos periodically while you heal. Have a friend or family member take pictures or ask a witness to as its valuable to demonstrate how you were impacted by a collision.
- Seek medical attorney immediately.
Injuries from a collision can occur immediately, but the shock you experience following a collision may distract you from noticing how a collision has impacted you physically. It is always best to follow up with a healthcare provider within 24 hours of the collision. When it comes to your health, it is always better to be safe and consult with a medical provider than be sorry. Don't assume that you're "ok". Get it checked out asap.
Insurance carriers will devalue your claim if you delayed seeking medical care (any more than 1-4 weeks following a collision). Insurance carriers like to point out that you "didn't see a doctor right away, so how much injury could you have really suffered." Don't give the insurance carriers an excuse. See a healthcare provider as soon as possible, regularly, and follow all treatment recommendations.
Do not gamble with your health, err on the side of continuing treatment. Once a claim is settled, you won't be able to go back and request additional treatment in the event things flare up. Our firm will help get all of your medical treatment paid, so don't let the costs of treatment stop you.
- Consult with an attorney.
It's helpful to consult with an attorney early on to understand the process and next steps to resolving your claims efficiently.
Property Damage (PD) claims involve any personal property involved in the collision, typically your car but it can also include any other property (cell phone, laptop, etc) damaged as a result of a collision. PD claims are typically resolved within 10 days of the collision and usually include rental car coverage. If your car is drivable, schedule a consultation with your preferred repair company for a repair estimate immediately. If your car was significantly damaged and towed, make sure to visit your car immediately and retrieve all valuable items. In preparation for your car being totaled, make sure you have a copy of your title.
Personal Injury or Bodily Injury (BI) claims are the primary types of claims people think of when they are involved in a collision, and these include everything else that is impacted following a collision: medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. BI claims may take months or years to resolve because they occur at the end of your case and after your complete treatment. It is very important to follow treatment plans and avoid any delays or gaps in treatment.
Insurance carriers are in the business of making money by denying or de-valuing claims. They routinely fight these cases and try to minimize your damages and pay you less than you are entitled to. They will undervalue your car and claim that "you weren't really hurt". Do not let them push you around, we don't. Our staff of skilled automobile collision attorneys and supporting team members know how to get the most value out of your case so that you can recover the highest recovery the law allows. As with all personal injury cases, it is important that you act quickly before time limits run out and your claims are forever barred. Contact Perez & Perez Law PLLC today for a free consultation.