Being involved in a traffic accident can be a horrifying experience. It totally disrupts the normal flow of life, interrupts your plans for the day, causes you to miss work or school, and sometimes results in bodily injuries that may sideline you from your job completely. Even though you will probably feel confused and helpless, you should know that there are things you can do To minimize the damage done by a traffic accident. So here are six steps that you need to take immediately after being involved in one.
Call the police
After being in a car accident, the first thing you need to do is call the police. You don’t have to wait for another party to call them or for someone else to witness your accident before you can get help. The police department will send an officer over right away so that he can fill out the necessary reports. Until the report is filed, no claim or lawsuit can be filed against any of the parties involved, so it must get completed properly and promptly. The police will ask you a series of questions and may take photos of the accident scene. They may ask for the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident happen, regardless if they helped or not.
Contact Your Lawyer
If you were injured in an accident in Tennessee, you need to talk to a personal injury attorney right away. The law in this state requires that every party involved in an accident should notify their insurance provider so that they can help them with the claims and lawsuits. Talk to your Jonesborough car accident lawyer immediately after calling the police. If possible, keep a copy of your investigator’s report so you can give it to him. Your lawyer will determine if you have a case and if there is a liability against the other party(s). He also represents your best interests throughout any legal proceedings that may arise from the incident, such as settlement, negotiations, or court hearings.
Get Medical Attention
Don’t wait for your injuries to get worse before you see a doctor. If you have the time, take yourself to the emergency room of a local hospital right after being in an accident. Any injuries must be properly documented and treated as quickly as possible so that they don’t become life-threatening or long-term problems. You may also be obligated by law to file an accident report with your health insurance company describing all of your injuries, how they happened, their diagnosis, treatment procedures, and costs incurred. This is done because, after every accident, the insurance company tries to minimize its financial responsibility by claiming that your injuries were pre-existing or minor and not worth the costs of treatment.
Gather All Necessary Documentation
If you ever plan on filing a claim or a lawsuit in court, make sure that all of the necessary documentation is properly gathered and organized. This means securing medical release forms from your doctor, copies of bills paid by you or your insurance company for treatment costs, photographs of your injuries and the accident scene, police reports filed, witness statements and contact information, repair estimates for damages to your vehicle and any property damage caused by the accident. Also, be sure to write down everything that you remember about the accident and the people involved, as soon as possible.
Take Care of Your Property
If you were not at fault for the accident, your property damage claim should be covered by the other party’s insurance company. Make sure that all damages to your car and/or property caused by the accident are properly documented and claimed as soon as possible. This includes any costs incurred for fixing or replacing broken windows, headlights, and taillights, dented doors or panels, damaged chrome or rims and tires, bent wheels and rims and any signs of visible paint scratches that may have been caused during the accident. In Tennessee every auto policy generally covers up to $1000 in property damage coverage, so make sure you get everything fixed up right away. Some policies may even offer more extensive coverage if your car is a rental, a special edition model, or a high-performance vehicle.
Avoid Signing Anything Without Your Lawyer
The other party’s insurance company may try to get you to sign an agreement waiving your right to further compensation from them. This document is called a release form and those who sign it legally give up their right to sue the other party or file a legal claim for damages they incurred as a result of the accident. In Tennessee, all parties who have been injured in an accident have three years from the date of the accident within which they must take legal action against another involved party so do not sign any releases or agree to settle claims until you have consulted with a personal injury attorney first.
The aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, especially if you are injured or your car sustained damages. It’s important to make sure you know your rights and fully understand what steps you should take immediately after. With these tips in mind and some help from professionals, you should have an easier time getting your legal and medical affairs in order.