7 Things To Do Following a Motor Vehicle Collision

Posted Tuesday, November 30, 2010 by Ed Harper

7 things to do following a motor vehicle collision:

1.Document the collision by maintaining the information you can at the scene.
a.Write down all you can as soon as possible after the crash. For example, if someone has admitted fault for the collision, this information becomes crucial when an insurance company and its lawyer want to blame you for some unrealistic reason.
b.Take pictures of the vehicles, the scene of the crash, and even the people. With cell phone cameras so prevalent, this is easier now than ever before.
c.Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all witnesses. Don’t rely on the police department officer to do this for you! They are in a hurry and often do not want to be bothered. To them, it is simply more paperwork to fill out, so witnesses are typically left off of reports.

2.Call the police to the scene in order to get a traffic collision report.
a.Having an officer come to the scene is a good idea as it will help with the exchange of information.
b.Also, the officer can be an independent witness at a later date and can explain the location of the collision, the attitudes of the people involved, and statements of fault to him/her may ultimately become admissible in court.
c.A specially trained officer with accident reconstruction background and training may also be allowed to offer an opinion of how the collision occurred and who was at fault for causing the collision.

3.If you have been injured after a crash, get in to see a health care provider.
a.Injuries need to be documented. An insurance company representative will not take your word regarding an injury which does not have objective evidence to back it up.
b.If health care treatment is received, the legal standard/requirement is comprised of the following:
i.reasonable in cost;
ii.necessary to help with assisting one in getting better and/or helping the doctor determine the proper diagnosis; and it must be
iii.related to the collision. (In legal terms, this is referred to as “proximate cause” by the collision. This is where many disagreements are lodged by the opposing insurance company for pre-existing conditions or subsequent events causing injury.)

4.Contacting an insurance company should be a step taken only after seeking legal counsel. Not all insurance companies will treat you fairly. This is true even of your own insurance company to which you have paid premiums for many years. They are loyal only to the almighty dollar. If at all possible, seek legal counsel first before speaking to any insurance company representative.
a.An example is when you have been injured due to the fault of an uninsured motorist (UIM). Your insurance company will have to take responsibility for all aspects of the claim, and the law assumes the relationship has therefore become adversarial. Thus, in the UIM setting, your insurance company must step into the shoes of the at-fault party and may seek to minimize your injury/claims as a result.
b.Recorded statements should not be given to either insurance company. If you are told by an insurance representative that a statement is required and must be recorded, that is not the truth. Questions can easily be answered in writing instead. Ask that a specific list of questions be either e-mailed to you or mailed to you, so you can answer these questions at your leisure and after you have had a chance to speak to an attorney. What you say can and will be used against you by an insurance company.

5.Obtaining insurance benefits should not require additional legwork on your part.
a.Most automobile policies have medical coverage which is not based on you being fault-free. This is often called personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (med-pay). By checking your Declaration page, you should be able to quickly discover if you have this type of coverage.
b.If you do not have PIP or med-pay, or if you have exhausted your benefits, your health insurance company should pay the bills just as if your medical care was unrelated to a tortious (wrongful) event.

6.Settle your claim only after getting legal counsel. A variety of scenarios exist and some are traps for the unwary at the time of concluding your case.
a.You may have to pay back your own insurance company for monies they have paid on your behalf at the time of settlement. This is called subrogation, and you may be on the hook for reimbursing them at a later date if you do not deal with them at the time of settlement.
b.If a governmental entity, such as Labor and Industries, has paid for any of your medical bills or lost wages, you must reimburse them according to state law.
c.If you owe back child support, you have to ensure these debts are paid from any settlement on your behalf.
d.If you settle for policy limits with the at-fault company, you have to take certain steps to maintain a UIM claim with your own company. This is crucial as you must give them the opportunity to maintain their cause of action against the at-fault party. Otherwise, you may lose the ability to pursue a UIM claim, possibly forfeiting thousands of dollars.

7.Attorney fees are a small price to pay for peace of mind. If you hire the right attorney (Harper Law), you will be able to trust their judgment and focus on recovering from your injuries without having to worry about your rights and the legalities of being involved in a collision. You will also have no reason to concern yourself with the shenanigans often pulled by insurance companies. Insurance companies will try and encourage you to settle without an attorney as the settlement numbers go up dramatically once you retain a competent personal injury advocate. Even you own insurance company may “advise” you regarding the legal ramifications and benefits of settling your own case. However, be aware that only a licensed attorney can give legal advice.

Therefore, contact Harper Law in order to receive qualified and compassionate legal counsel.

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Although our office does not handle all types of cases, we hope you will contact us regarding any legal issues you may encounter. We will answer your questions, or refer you to another quality and trustworthy attorney if we are unable to assist you.

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