Car accidents are traumatic, especially when someone else’s negligence caused the crash. In most cases, people involved in a car accident feel frightened and in pain after a high-impact crash and are unaware of what to do next. Although you are entitled to compensation to recover your losses, you need to take steps after a car accident that is not your fault.
When you get into your car, you never anticipate an accident, but these crashes happen to everyone. Even cautious drivers cannot avoid a car accident entirely. If you get into a car accident due to someone else’s fault, follow the necessary steps to achieve the best possible outcome and avert a stressful battle with car insurers.
The First Steps to Take After A Car Accident Not Your Fault
After a car accident caused by someone else’s fault, you should follow specific steps to protect your interests. Here is what to do immediately after a car accident that is not your fault.
#1. Stay Calm and Remain at the Accident Scene
Immediately after an accident, you might be in shock from the other party striking your car. Remember to stay on the scene and get to a safe place. Leaving the scene may damage critical pieces of evidence that could assist the negotiation of a fair settlement.
Ensuring that everyone involved in a crash is okay before moving the vehicle away from traffic or assessing damage is essential. If someone is injured or complains about back, head, or neck pain, request medical care as soon as possible. If the people involved in the crash have not suffered any severe injuries, turn on your hazard lights and drive your vehicles to the furthest shoulder of the road.
#2. Report the Accident to The Police
After a car accident that was not your fault, the next step is to report the matter to the police. Call 9-1-1 from your phone or let another motorist do it on your behalf. Explain everything to the dispatcher accurately, including the location of the accident and if anyone requires immediate medical attention. Such information enables the dispatcher to send an ambulance if anyone involved in the crash needs medical care.
Calling the police is a critical step since it ensures the collection of vital evidence to determine liability and provide information necessary for settlement negotiation. Your car accident lawyer can use a police report to substantiate your claim. This substantiation helps bolster maximum compensation.
Typically, a responding police officer will ask you multiple questions like your name, insurance, and contact information. However, this does not mean that you are responsible for the crash. It is a standard procedure used during police investigations.
#3. Document as Much as You Can
Once you call the police, document as much information as possible while at the scene. For instance, use your smartphone to take photos of the scene, focusing on damage to your vehicle, personal property, and other losses resulting from the accident. Photographic evidence often provides detailed information that lets insurance adjusters determine your compensation value and assists you in your court case when necessary.
If you have not suffered catastrophic injuries, you may write down how the accident occurred before forgetting critical details. For example, you can indicate that you stopped at a red light, and another driver struck you from behind. Describe where each vehicle was and how the entire event transpired. Such information can help prove your claim even when the other party is 100 percent responsible for the accident.
#4. Gather Information from Witnesses
Although you and the other driver can describe events leading to the accident, witnesses play a critical role if the matter goes to court. Typically, judges and juries depend on onlookers’ testimony rather than first-hand proclamations in personal injury cases. Gathering witness testimony helps substantiate your claim, especially when the other party denies liability.
Write down witnesses’ names, contact information, and details leading to the accident. If several witnesses saw what happened, collect their information and provide it to your car insurer and the police. Gathering information from witnesses enables your car accident lawyer to build a strong case against the defendant.
#5. Assert No-Fault After the Accident
After a car accident, you may feel apologetic. However, admitting fault and accepting the blame can become evidence of liability. Admitting fault provides the other party’s insurance company leverage to deny your claim and argue that you noticed your wrongdoing and admitted your fault.
In some cases, the other driver may blame you for the accident. Never agree to such an assessment. Admitting any fault will likely compromise your claim and limit you from receiving financial recovery. Asserting no-fault protects you from blame by the at-fault driver.
#6. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Car accidents may result in different injuries that require medical care to ascertain the extent of the damage. Medical evaluation is crucial since most car accident injuries may not show immediately but only appear after days, weeks, or even months. Furthermore, seeking medical attention documents injuries sustained from the accident, helping victims receive compensation for all losses incurred.
Many people may refuse medical evaluation because they think their symptoms are minor or are not visible. Car accident injuries often cause severe, long-term effects that may not show until several days.
Some of these injuries include:
- Post-traumatic stress syndrome
- Personality changes
- Loss of physical function
- Abdominal swelling and pain
Since most car accident injuries do not show right away, you may suffer long-term complications. After the accident, consult a medical professional to determine if you sustained any injuries, such as soft tissue injuries. A personal injury lawyer will also use the doctor’s written record to establish your claim’s credibility. Other medical professionals to consider after a car accident include a physical therapist, caregivers, and chiropractors.
#7. Share Your Insurance Information
Even if the other party is liable for the accident, you must submit your car insurance information and collect the other driver’s insurance information. This information includes the driver’s name, insurance carrier, tag number, and policy number or ID. It is important to exchange insurance information after a car accident.
Typically, collecting the other party’s insurance information helps you access critical details to begin your claim process immediately. Waiting too long before pursuing financial recovery for damage caused by another driver creates challenges, especially after the statute of limitations. The at-fault driver’s car insurer has the right to defend against claims directed towards their client and if you miss the filing deadline, they do not pay compensation.
#8. Hire a Car Accident Attorney
A severe car accident can leave you with significant losses like vehicle damage, lost wages, permanent physical and emotional difficulties, medical bills, and even wrongful death. If someone else causes a car accident injuring you or a loved one, you have a right to recover a settlement for your damages. These damages include compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
An attorney can help you navigate the legal process of seeking compensation, especially when dealing with an insurance company offering an unreasonable amount or denying your claim. A car accident attorney enables you to understand your legal options and guides you on a course of action.
Other ways a car accident lawyer can help you include:
- Determining if your claim can recover compensation
- Representing you fully and protecting your rights in and out of court
- Investigating your claim and gathering critical pieces of evidence to support your claim
- Bringing in experts from different fields to ascertain that the other party was at fault
- Ensuring you receive fair and maximum compensation
- Taking your case to trial if necessary
Working with an experienced car accident attorney is essential, helping you navigate the complex legal process when seeking compensation. Legal representation ensures you receive comprehensive legal representation throughout the claims process.
What to Do if an Accident That Is Not Your Fault Totals Your Vehicle
If you are involved in a car accident, and you lose your vehicle in an accident caused by another driver, the other driver must compensate you for the cost of your car. The actual price of your car is the value of your vehicle at its current state. Therefore, your projected compensation is an amount equal to the cost of your vehicle presently rather than a new vehicle.
Generally, insurance companies calculate the cost of a totaled car based on the replacement cost minus the depreciation cost. The replacement cost is the actual price of a new car, the same model as the totaled vehicle. Depreciation cost refers to the car’s depreciation value over the years. The at-fault driver also pays the sales tax on the replacement car.
Who Is Responsible for Paying the Deductible in a Car Accident Not Your Fault?
The at-fault driver’s car insurer is liable for settling your deductible in a car accident that is not your fault. It takes on average six months to process your claim, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Although you can pay deductibles yourself and get back on the road, working with a car accident lawyer can help speed up the process.
When Is the Right Time to Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident Not Your Fault?
People involved in a car accident caused by someone else’s fault may try to handle claims independently. However, the legal process is complicated; hiring a reputable car accident lawyer to help you is essential. Contact a car accident lawyer immediately after a car accident.
Even when the other party is entirely responsible for the accident, your case can be legally complicated. Contact a lawyer immediately after the accident to protect your rights. A skilled lawyer can help if the fault is in dispute, the insurance company refuses your claim, or the pursuit of compensation seems complicated.
Contacting a lawyer immediately after an accident helps gather the necessary evidence to determine a liable party and receive fair compensation. If you prefer pursuing compensation without legal support, you will experience challenges, potentially receiving a minimum settlement. Contact a lawyer after a car accident that is not your fault.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Right Away
A personal injury attorney consultation is crucial after a car accident that was not your fault. An experienced lawyer can help you in various ways when pursuing compensation for damages resulting from an accident. A skilled lawyer can negotiate and communicate with car insurance companies involved with your claim, helping you receive reasonable compensation.
You need to follow the above steps to help prove liability and obtain maximum compensation. A car accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation after a car accident that is not your fault. Contact a car accident lawyer near you to learn more and get your free case evaluation.