Car Accidents: What to do in Worst Case Scenarios
You may not be able to avoid them altogether but what you do right after a car accident can lessen the troubles of dealing with its aftermath. Knowing what to do when you get into an accident can help both parties ensure the quick settlement of your car insurance claims and, of course, keep you out of trouble with law enforcement.
This guide should equip you with the proper knowledge of what steps to take depending on the type of auto accident or situation you may find yourself in.
What to do after an auto accident with serious injuries
If you or a passenger of yours sustains a serious injury after a car accident, the first step is to seek medical attention as soon as possible immediately or within the days following the incident. Doing so will not only save you from long-term physical damage but will also allow you to make a strong claim for personal injury.
Otherwise, waiting days or even weeks before getting looked at by a doctor may make it difficult for you to prove to your or the other driver’s insurance provider that your injuries were indeed the result of an auto accident.
Be sure to also thoroughly document your injuries and the treatment you got so it will be easier for you to collect medical reimbursement from the insurance company.
Do not forget to list the names and addresses of the medical professionals you see for treatment or checkups. Do not hesitate to take pictures of injuries and the scene of the accident if possible. Lastly, make sure to keep every receipt for every medication or treatment you get.
What to do if you're involved in a car accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver?
While most states have a law that requires every driver to have insurance before driving, there are still some people who refuse to do so. If you get into the unfortunate situation of being involved in an accident with an uninsured (or maybe underinsured) driver, there are two courses of action you can take.
First, immediately contact your own insurance provider to see if your current coverage plan applies to your situation. Check if you have UIM (uninsured motorist) coverage. This would give you additional coverage when it is proven that the uninsured motorist was at fault in the accident. So, if you do not have UIM yet, it is highly recommended that you do so to serve as an extra layer of protection.
If you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver and have no UIM coverage yourself, you can instead try to pursue legal action by consulting a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases.
What to do if you fall victim to a car accident scam?
Drivers are also at the risk of falling victim to various types of car accident scams with a goal to extort money from the victim.
If you suspect that the recent car accident you got into was staged and fraudulent, make sure to document everything to defend yourself later on.
Take detailed photos of the accident scene from the damages to the license plates and even the passengers from both parties involved.
Take note of the following information as well before leaving the scene:
- Name, address and contact info of those involved
- Vehicle registration information and license number
- The other party’s insurance information
- Physical features of the other driver and their passengers
Of course, you can also call the police if they have not arrived at the scene yet. Most importantly, never agree with settling damages with cash, and immediately get in touch with your insurance provider to let them know that you have been in an accident and that you may be scammed.
What to do if you get sued after a car accident?
Getting sued after a car accident is a very stressful and frightening situation to be in even when you are certain that you are not at fault. It is important that you remain calm during such cases.
After getting in touch with a lawyer, the first thing you should do is determine which party is actually at fault.
Doing so and proving it might not be that difficult if you documented the accident scene and damages right away. However, if the fault is difficult to prove, you can see if you have no-fault insurance. This type of insurance makes your insurance provider responsible for you and your car no matter which party is at fault in an accident.
In cases when you are sure you were at fault, immediately contact your insurance company. Next, find out about your state’s laws on the statute of limitations to see if the other party’s claims are still valid. If they are, then your insurance provider would pay off the penalties and injuries of the other party.
What to do if you are unable to work after a car accident?
If you’re seriously injured in a car accident and unable to work, you can make a claim for lost wages from your insurance provider.
Most insurance plans have a clause providing a person with three months’ worth of salary in the form of lost wages (the money you can’t earn because of injuries).
You can claim your lost wages by using one of the following types of coverage:
- Liability bodily injury coverage. Applicable when you are injured because of another driver’s proven negligence.
- UIM coverage. As said above, this would cover all your expenses when the other party in the accident happens to be uninsured or underinsured.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The PIP pays for your injury expenses and lost wages no matter which party is at fault. This is only applicable in no-fault states.
What to do if you loan out your car and it gets involved in an accident?
It is a common misconception that a person’s car insurance will not work when the owner’s vehicle gets into an accident while a different driver was operating it. The truth is, car insurance follows the vehicle as well.
This means that you are still entitled to the same benefits and coverage when your car gets in an accident whether or not it was you who was driving it. The driver’s insurance (if they have any) would then serve as excess insurance.
To learn more, visit the following websites:
GirlsHealth.gov offers advice on what to do if you are in a car accident.
The FBI has a cautionary tale of a staged auto accident so you can know what type of motor vehicle accident fraud to look out for.
The Department of Insurance and Financial Services also discusses auto insurance fraud.