Follow These Steps When You’re in a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault
Car accidents and their aftermaths are always stressful, no matter who’s fault they are. But when you’re in an accident where the other driver was completely at fault, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of and denied the justice you deserve.
No matter how friendly they may seem, insurance companies and the people who work for them don’t have your best interests at heart. And the other people in the accident will be focused on protecting themselves, so who is looking out for you?
If you’ve been in a car accident in the Dunwoody area and you know it wasn’t your fault, there are certain steps you can take to help protect your rights. These actions will help to strengthen your insurance claim and make sure you’re prepared in case it’s necessary to litigate your case in court.
Prioritize Your Health and Safety
Before you follow any of the steps on this list, remember that your health is the most important thing. If you need immediate medical attention and can’t gather information at the scene of the accident, that’s OK.
And if you’re so focused on healing from your injuries that you need to hire a Dunwoody car accident attorney to help take care of all the details in the meantime, that’s OK too.
The aftermath of a car accident is inevitably going to be stressful, but no amount of money is worth sacrificing your health. With that in mind, here are some things that can help you protect your rights after a car accident, if you’re safely able to do them.
Gather this Information at the Scene of an Accident
Once you’ve made sure that all parties in the accident are physically safe, you should do your best to gather as much information as possible before you leave the location of the accident. And don’t forget to call the police! Georgia law requires drivers to report any accident resulting in an injury or $500 or more of damage. Plus, filing a police report can help strengthen your insurance claim.
You should also try to gather your own information and evidence to support your insurance claim. If your phone is working, take photos of the vehicles and the site of the accident. Your memory may not be working perfectly after a traumatic incident like a car accident, so writing things down can make a big difference. Helpful information might include:
- Any weather or road conditions that might have played a role in the accident
- The exact location of the accident
- The names of any nearby businesses that may have picked up the accident on security cameras
- The accounts of any witnesses and other involved parties
- Your own best recollection of what happened
Finally, you should gather the contact information and insurance details of every driver involved in the accident.
Don’t Assume the At-Fault Driver Will Pay
If someone’s clearly at fault in a car accident, they should have to pay, right? Unfortunately, it’s not always so cut and dry.
Insurance companies make money by paying the smallest amount possible when their drivers get into accidents, and because they deal with cases like yours every day, they’re experts at finding ways to avoid blame.
To help level the playing field, consider bringing in an expert of your own — like an experienced Dunwoody accident attorney. Nick Martin has successfully negotiated for many clients, and he’s ready to do what it takes to help you get the compensation you deserve. He’s also experienced with a wide variety of unique accident situations, like:
- Drunk drivers
- Rideshare accidents
- Tractor trailer collisions
- Uninsured or underinsured motorists
Talk to a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Many people will wait to talk to a lawyer until after their insurance claim gets denied or they don’t get the compensation they were hoping for. But don’t be afraid to be proactive!
The sooner you talk with a lawyer about your case, the better they’ll be able to advise you about the steps you should take next. And if you do end up needing to take your case to court, they’ll already be familiar with your case, which gives you a major leg up.
Just make sure to look for a lawyer who’s local to Dunwoody, experienced with car accidents, and has the time to work on your case personally and answer all your questions (i.e., not a big box lawyer like the ones you see advertised on TV).
How to File Your Insurance Claim
After a car accident, you’ll need to file a claim with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Most companies allow you to do this online or over the phone. You should also tell your own insurance company about the accident, even if it wasn’t your fault. That way, they’re prepared if another driver tries to blame you for the accident.
When submitting your claim, keep in mind that you should not report everything you know about the accident. Insurance companies will look for any possible reason to deny your claim, so you should only report the basic, verifiable facts.
Keep all the information you gathered at the scene for your own records and ask your lawyer for help if you’re not sure what to report and what to keep to yourself.
What Compensation Can You Ask for After a Car Accident?
Sometimes people don’t get the compensation they deserve after an accident simply because they don’t know what to ask for.
The type and amount of compensation you receive after an accident will vary depending on the details of your case.
If your vehicle was damaged, you may receive compensation for the repair costs and for the cost of a rental while you’re waiting on those repairs. If you’re unable to get to work because of the damaged vehicle, you can also be compensated for those lost wages.
If you’re injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying your medical bills. You may be able to get compensated for your current medical expenses, and for any future surgeries or treatments down the road that are related to your accident injuries.
And because car accidents are often traumatic, you may also receive compensation for pain and suffering.
It can be difficult to know what you can reasonably ask for, which is why it’s so helpful to have a great attorney in your corner. Make sure you’re working with someone who has your best interests at heart, but who is also realistic about what you can expect. The last thing you want is to get your hopes up because you’re working with an attorney who over promises and then underdelivers.
Prepare for a Call with an Insurance Adjuster
Once you’ve filed a claim, a representative from the insurance company, called an insurance adjuster, will reach out to you. Their job is to ask questions and try to poke holes in your story, looking for reasons to deny your claim or pay you the smallest amount possible.
These people are experts at finding loopholes, so don’t go into the conversation without preparing what you plan to say!
As a general rule, you should:
- Never admit fault, even if you think you’re responsible
- Tell the adjuster you need to consult with your lawyer if you don’t know how to answer a question
- Keep your answers short
- Don’t speculate, and only share verifiable facts
- Never accept their first offer without consulting an attorney
If you’re working with a Dunwoody attorney, they can help you prepare to talk to the adjuster by letting you know the kinds of questions they may ask and helping you rehearse your answers.
Once you’ve received an offer from the insurance company, your attorney can also help you make sure the amount they’re giving you is fair. They can even negotiate with the company on your behalf if they think you can get a larger amount of money.
When in Doubt, Make the Doctor’s Appointment
Even if you don’t think you were injured in the car accident, you should make an appointment with your primary care doctor or stop by an urgent care center. Some car accident injuries don’t show symptoms right away. And in other cases, small symptoms like sore muscles or headaches can be signs of a much bigger problem than you realize.
If you end up needing medical care down the road, it’ll be much easier to get it covered by insurance if you have medical records from immediately after the accident.
Keep Records of Everything (Yes, Everything)
From medical records to vehicle repair estimates to communication with the insurance companies, you’re probably going to want to invest in a filing cabinet to keep everything organized.
You never know what information could play a key role in increasing the amount of compensation you receive, so don’t throw anything away! Important information to keep organized might include:
- A copy of the police report
- Every piece of communication with the insurance company
- Medical bills
- Medical records
- Photos of your injuries
- Photos of your vehicle damage
- Vehicle repair bills
- Your notes and photos from the scene of the accident
Find A Dunwoody Attorney Who Will Advocate for You
Working with an attorney after a car accident should decrease your stress, not add to it. Unfortunately, not all attorneys are willing or able to give your case the time and attention it deserves.
To many lawyers at bigger box firms — like the ones you see on commercials and billboards — you’re just one of many clients. These lawyers will not have the time to get to know you or your case. And often, you’ll only get to communicate with paralegals, instead of the attorney who’s managing your case.
When you work with Nick Martin, on the other hand, you can trust that Nick is directly managing every aspect of your case. He also makes it a priority to respond quickly anytime clients have questions, need an update on the case, or just want to talk through the next steps of the process.
Nick understands how difficult it is to navigate the aftermath of any car accident. He’s here to make your life easier, whether that means filing claims or tracking down medical records for you, answering all your questions, or working tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
Not Satisfied with Your Georgia Car Accident Attorney? You Have Options
If your current lawyer is not meeting your needs, don’t feel like you have to stick it out until your case is over.
In most car accident cases, you can easily fire your attorney and hire a new one — unless the other driver’s insurance company has already made you an offer. Most car accident attorneys will have you sign a contract that means you don’t have to pay a bill and you’ll be entitled to your complete file.
And if you hire a new lawyer, they will usually pay off any attorney’s lien that your original lawyer has taken out.
Consider these questions when trying to decide if it’s time to fire your attorney:
- Did your lawyer fail to answer all of your questions satisfactorily?
- Did your lawyer fail to explain the value of your case?
- Did the lawyer fail to explain their strategy for your case?
- Did your lawyer fail to explain what information they need to resolve issues in your case?
- Does the lawyer fail to return your call within 48 hours?
- Do you deal with a “case manager” or paralegal and don’t get a call back from your attorney?
- Did your lawyer fail to explain health insurance and medical bill lien issues that will be handled after your case settles?
If you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, you’re probably not getting the level of service you deserve! Start by contacting your lawyer and asking for an in-person meeting where you can get all your questions answered. And if that’s not enough, it’s probably time to fire them.
Taking Your Dunwoody Car Accident Case to Court
If at all possible, your car accident attorney is going to try to get you the compensation you deserve without taking legal action. But sometimes, insurance companies can’t be reasoned with, and you’ll need to fight for your compensation in court.
When this happens, the major insurance companies are already at an advantage, because they deal with car accidents every day. This is why it’s so important to work with a lawyer who’s just as experienced with car accidents and personal injury.
A Dunwoody Attorney Who Will Fight for Your Rights
If you’re in the process of seeking compensation after a Dunwoody car accident, Nick Martin is ready and willing to help you get what you deserve. Whether the accident just happened or you’re in the middle of the claims process, today’s a great day to reach out and find out how Nick can help. Give him a call at (770) 450-6155, or fill out this form to receive a free consultation.
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