What to do in case of an accident
1. Always call for assistance.
Even if you can drive after the collision, it is critical that you get proof of the date, time, and other information regarding the collision. Insurance companies will look for any excuse to reduce, delay, and deny your claim. A police report is essential to prove the facts of the crash; even if an officer does not come to the scene, an insurer will use the fact that you didn't call as an excuse to unreasonably delay, deny, and reduce your claim for damages.
2. Exchange and Document.
Always exchange insurance information with the other driver. Get the driver’s name, address, and phone number, as well as their car insurance policy number. Document by taking pictures at the scene. Take pictures of all involved vehicles, including both damaged and undamaged areas. Also take pictures of the scene of the collision; traffic conditions, road conditions, weather, and other factors are important to document.
3. Don't Give Statements to the Other Driver's Insurance Company.
You may quickly begin receiving calls and messages from the other driver's insurance company, purportedly to "gather information" to "properly evaluate the claim." Statements are not meant to gather information to “properly evaluate the claim;” adjusters gather statements to find excuses to reduce, delay, and deny your valid claim. You have no duty to speak with them – don’t get bullied! Better yet, hire counsel and avoid the stress and problem altogether: An insurer may not speak directly with a represented claimant.
4. DO Cooperate with your OWN insurance company.
You have a contractual duty in your policy of insurance to cooperate with your own insurer, which generally includes a duty to provide information about the collision. Do not downplay your injuries. State the basic facts of the collision. Do not offer information that is not asked for. Answer only the question that is asked. Your own insurer is supposed to act with your best interests in mind; but, all too frequently, we see first person insurers unreasonably reducing, delaying, and denying claims for personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured motorists claims (UIM). The safest bet is to report the accident, and immediately hire counsel to help you navigate the entire claims process – including communicating with your own insurer.
5. Get Medical Care (Even if you don't think you are hurt)
Nearly every collision causes some injury. Strained and pulled muscles and ligaments (“Soft tissue injuries”) are the most common; our bodies are not meant to be banged around and whiplashed as happens in nearly every crash.
Soft tissue injuries are frequently downplayed by insurers, but they often take months of care to recover. Many people do not realize how hurt they are until days after a collision when they begin to feel their injuries more acutely. Later on, an insurer will use your delay in getting medical treatment as a reason to reduce, delay, and/or deny your claim.
6. Call a personal injury attorney who has experience with insurers.
Call a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with insurance companies, and is familiar with your state’s insurance law. For example, in Washington, that would include the Insurance Fair Conduct Act and the Consumer Protection Act.
Breckan Law has the experience and knowledge to obtain favorable settlements, or, if necessary, take your case to litigation if the insurer will not settle for a reasonable amount.
Initial consultations for potential personal injury clients are complimentary.
As soon as you become our client, we assume the stress and pressure of communicating with the insurers so you can focus on your recovery and getting on with your life.
Nothing contained herein should be construed or replied upon as legal advice. Information provided herein may not be applicable to your unique situation. Nothing contained herein creates and attorney client relationship. Consult an attorney to discuss your situation.
Breckan Law PLLC