What to do Before You Call a Lawyer
A car accident is one of the most deviating events that a person can be involved in. They can damage your car and more importantly yourself. In the aftermath of a car accident it can be a chaotic scene. It is important to take care of some housekeeping immediately following the accident. First of all be sure to call your insurance company and let them know what has happened. Next you need to take some steps to make sure your lawyer, if you decide to go that route, has enough evidence to win your case. First, you need to decide if it will be beneficial for you to invest in an attorney. You have to keep in mind that an attorney is going to take a third of your settlement. Keeping that in mind you have to determine if two thirds of your settlement with a lawyer will get you more or less than you could get from a settlement without a lawyer. Here is an example: if you could get a $5,000 settlement without a lawyer, or get a $7,000 settlement with a lawyer. You would be better off with the $5000 on your own because if you go with the $7000 then you will actually only get $4,666. The attorney will take the rest. So you have to determine which route will be most beneficial to you. If you decide to dive in on your own, insurance companies will try to offer you a lower amount than you could potentially receive.
Another good idea is to get contact information from people who witnessed the incident. It is best to do this as soon as possible after the accident. The police will get witness accounts on their own for the police report, but it will be beneficial to gather as many witness accounts as possible so that your attorney will have plenty of credibility to prove that you were not at fault. Make sure your witness accounts are not putting you at fault for the collision. Try to get the contact information from anybody who witnessed the accident.
The next thing you want to do is order a police report. You can do this by calling the police station in the town that the accident occurred and asking for a copy of the police report. If you call and they do not have a police report for your particular accident, call the county sheriff and find out if a sheriffs deputy wrote up the accident. It is very important that you obtain a police report. When you contact an attorney, they are going to want to review it as soon as possible. You may have to pay a fee to have a copy of the police report printed and sent to you. You can typically find more information regarding police reports and how to get them on the police station website.
Make sure you get pictures of any damage caused by the accident. This includes damage to the vehicle as well as you. When taking photos, make sure you get images of all of the damage. Don’t just send in pictures of a bent bumper. Get pictures of any blood, bruises, or cuts that were caused by the incident. Insurance companies will offer a larger settlement if you can convince them that the accident was not just a minor bump. Sell it as a life changing event. Also be sure to get documentation of any property inside the vehicle that was damaged as a direct result of the accident. Items commonly broken in car accidents include cell phones, laptops, and other valuable electronics that could be easily damaged in a collision.
You should also get a repair estimate. Most of the time an insurance adjuster will try to send you to the cheapest repair shop they can find. Don’t feel pressured. You can take your car to whatever shop that you believe will do the best job. The shops that the insurance company recommends typically do not do the best repair jobs.
Make sure that if you are in any kind of pain that you visit a hospital for your injuries. If you avoid a visit to the hospital your injuries will not come into play in your case because the argument will be that obviously they were not severe enough to need medical attention. Don’t be afraid of hospital costs. After a collision your visit will more than likely be covered by car insurance because it was related to a vehicle incident.
My last tip for you is to be prepared. Make sure you have all of the proper documentation and information on hand before you attempt to get in touch with an attorney. Have the physical address of the accident, a record of all of the medical treatments related to the accident, and any other important information that you believe will help your settlement. Having all of this handy when you call will allow your attorney to provide you with the best legal evaluation they can.