Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland Car Accident Attorneys
What Should I Do To Protect My Rights After an Accident?
If you believe the other party is at fault, call the police immediately to document how the accident occurred, and make sure you get the names of any witnesses at the scene. Get the names and addresses of the other driver and occupants in the vehicle, and note the license plates of all the other vehicles involved. Get the name and policy number of the other driver’s insurance company. Also get the name and badge number of the police office and ask him/her how you can get a copy of the police report. Either at the scene of the accident or shortly afterwards make notes of what your recall about the accident. What lane were you in? How fast were you going? What were the weather conditions?
If you think you may be injured, seek immediate medical treatment. Either have an ambulance take you to the hospital directly from the scene, or go to your primary care doctor that day, or the next. Sometimes it may not be immediately apparent that you have suffered an injury, and soft tissue injuries may take up to 24 hours to manifest their symptoms.
In a personal injury claim, the value of your case will be affected by the nature of the medical reports describing your injuries. When you seek medical treatment make sure you give a complete description of all the areas of the body that are hurting you, even if the pain is not severe. Discuss your limitations and how the injury may be affecting your ability to do your job. Try and avoid giving any lengthy description of the accident, as the doctor may get it wrong when he dictates his notes hours or days after your meeting. Never fabricate injuries.
If you have health insurance, insist that your health care provider bill through your health insurance company. Many times doctors do not want to bill your health insurance company because, as a condition of his participation in that program, he gets paid less for services. As such, he can bill his full rate if he goes outside your insurance plan. Do not allow it.
If your vehicle or the other vehicle sustained significant damage, take pictures at the scene. If you don’t have a camera at the scene, tell you insurance company that you need access to your car, and take pictures at a later time.
Keep track of all time you miss from work and any other out of pocket expenses you have to pay because of the accident, i.e. cab or transportation expenses. Track mileage to and from your doctor visits.
Act quickly to protect your rights by contacting a lawyer if you have been injured. If you have not been injured, you should be able to handle the claim involving the property damage to your vehicle. Ask your insurance company for a copy of your policy to see what you are entitled to under that policy. Do you get replacement cost or just blue book value? If you car was totaled, verify how the insurance company determined the value of your vehicle. Everything is negotiable, so do some Internet research to find out what comparable vehicles are selling for in your market and point out (to your claim’s adjuster) all the factors that would support a larger recovery for your vehicle. These may include low mileage, good condition, great stereo, and any extra options you selected upon purchase. Don’t take the first offer that the insurance company makes on your vehicle.