What to do Immediately Following a Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident is a very stressful experience, particularly if you are injured in the accident, or if someone in your car was injured. It can be very difficult to think clearly in those early moments when your body is in shock and your brain is flooded with adrenaline. Simple car accidents can often be handled between you and the insurance company for the at-fault driver, but more complicated accidents involving severe injuries, property damage, permanent injury or questions of fault can require the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. In this article, we’ll attempt to provide you with a guide for what to do after a wreck.
Protecting Your Rights After an Asheville Car Accident
The first several minutes after an accident are crucial for protecting your rights, should you need to exercise them later with legal action. Here are the steps to take:
Move vehicles and persons to a safe area
Minor accidents can become major accidents when those involved don’t clear the roadway. Drivers approaching on the highway may not be able to see the danger ahead and can cause additional accidents if there are cars or people in the road. If you can safely move your vehicle from the road, do so. If you cannot, use your car’s hazard lights, to warn other drivers that they are approaching an incident.
Check on other people
It is essential to check and see if anyone in any vehicle involved needs medical attention. If there is any question that someone had injuries in the wreck, call 911 promptly in order to be better safe than sorry. Symptoms of dizziness, chest pain, and visual disturbances can be indicative of larger underlying medical issues.
Call the Police
In addition to properly documenting a traffic accident, an official accident report submitted by a police officer or state trooper can be essential for dealing with an insurance company. Insurance adjusters weigh the accident more heavily when there is an accident report associated with it. Often times an accident report can even be more important eyewitnesses. This report will eventually become the basis for deciding who was actually at fault in the accident, regardless of what the involved parties say.
Gather Relevant Info
It is imperative that you get as much information about the accident and other drivers as possible before leaving the accident scene. This includes:
- The name and address of the other driver
- The other driver’s insurance company and policy details
- Statements and contact info for anyone who witnessed the accident
- Take pictures of license plates and any vehicle damage
- Make and model of all involved vehicles
- Name and badge number of any involved law enforcement personnel
This information will serve to help confirm that the accident happened as you remember it.
File an insurance claim
Filing an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company is the first step in making sure you are protected and compensated for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages and property damage.
Keep a record of events
Keeping a log or record is a good way to document not only the accident, but your symptoms, the medical treatments you receive, and all of your expenses associated with the accident and your injuries. This is extremely helpful in the event that you have to file a lawsuit or negotiate a settlement with another party. It is good to include things like: all of your daily symptoms, repair estimates from repair shops, medical expenses, lost wages, and travel expenses to doctors visited associated with your injuries from the accident. If you end up needing to hire an attorney, this information will be vitally important.
When should you hire a lawyer?
It is not necessary to hire a lawyer for every small fender bender. If an accident is simple, with no injuries, and with both sides agreeing to who is at fault, often times individuals can negotiate a settlement on their own. However, if an accident is severe enough to warrant emergency medical treatment, physical therapy or pain management, a totaled vehicle, reckless behavior on behalf of the at-fault driver (DWI, reckless driving, driving with license revoked etc.…), this is when a lawyer can help. A skilled personal injury lawyer can help you navigate these issues, make sure your claim is secure and assist you in getting the maximum amount of compensation.
The Statute of Limitations
In North Carolina, you have 3 years to file a lawsuit before the statute expires, at which time, your window will have closed. This doesn’t mean your active lawsuit will expire 3 years from the accident date, it just means you have 3 years to get the ball officially rolling, if you are unable to reach an agreement with the insurance company. This statute exists for 2 main reasons:
- to make sure that a lawsuit commences in a timely fashion so that everyone involved can have a clearer recollection of events.
- To prevent that the defendant doesn’t have this lawsuit hanging over their heads indefinitely.
Takeaway: if you have a case in which you need to file a lawsuit, make sure you get the ball rolling in time, or the court will literally refuse to hear it.
Contact an Asheville Car Accident Attorney
If you or your loved one have been the victim of a car accident and have been injured through no fault of your own, our staff at Lakota R. Denton P.A. are standing by to assist you. We will help investigate your crash, talk to witnesses, and speak to your medical providers about outstanding balances. Attorney Denton has the knowledge and resources to handle your car accident claim properly, to help ensure that you are properly compensated for an accident that was not your fault. Call today for a free, no-pressure consultation.