Writting by Social Monsters
You’ve been in a car accident. What should you do next? Make sure you protect yourself as you deal with the insurance companies (and maybe doctors and lawyers). Here’s a guide to what goes on and how to handle it all:
Most cellphones today come equipped with high quality cameras that enable you to take pictures of the accident scene. You can’t be too cautious here; use video to capture the entire area and record any conversation you have with the other drivers (or at the very least, take notes).
Get names, contact information and testimonials from witnesses, even if they weren’t directly involved. Write down or record your version of the accident, while it’s still fresh in your mind. If the police become involved, make sure to get a copy of the police report once it’s filed.
Dealing With the Insurance Companies
Once again, document everything, especially conversations with insurance company representatives. Ask such questions as:
- Will the accident affect your premium?
- What does the insurance pay for?
- What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have sufficient coverage?
If You’re Injured
Seek medical advice, even if you don’t think your injuries are that bad. Often accidents can do damage that we aren’t aware of until later. Be sure to keep good records and take notes of everything. Get copies of the doctor’s notes, especially if it is an exam required by an insurance company (yours or theirs). If the injury causes you to miss work, get records from your employer and doctor to corroborate your story.
It doesn’t hurt to seek legal advice. Nearly all personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and work on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay a fee unless and until you win your case. For help finding a good lawyer, ask family and friends for recommendations or do an online search.
Taking Care of the Rest
If your car is in the shop or totaled, insurance will cover the repair bills or give you the current value of your car. If you need further compensation to cover medical bills and lost wages, your attorney will do his or her best to see that you get it. Judges in personal injury cases often award what’s known as a structured settlement, in which the award is spread out in regular payments over a set period of time. This is so you don’t run out of money to cover your expenses and bills. If you find you need to access a larger amount of your settlement money, you may be able to sell all or some of your future payments for a lump sum of cash now.
Most important, take care of yourself. Take the advice of the professionals you recruited and take the time to recover and stay healthy. Remember that help of all kinds is all around you, and you don’t have to face the situation on your own.