How to act after a car accident

How to act after a car accident

In driving class, they may teach you a great deal about what you should do to avoid getting into car accidents, but where they often fall short is telling you what you should do after getting into a car accident. The first step you should take immediately after a car crash is to make sure everyone in both parties of the crash is given medical treatment if required. Then you need to collect all the information needed to make an insurance claim. After that, it’s always a good idea to consult a car accident specialist lawyer who can help you get the most out of your accident claim as well as inform you of your legal rights. Finally, once you’ve completed all the previous steps you can now file your car accident insurance claim to get your life back on track again. This article will go over all you need to know about how to act after a car accident.

Take Care of Any Medical Needs

Immediately after getting into a car accident the first thing you need to do is to check both parties in the accident to see if they’re ok. Even with minor car accidents the driver or passengers in the car can be jostled around quite a bit, which can sometimes result in head injuries that need to be treated immediately. If there appear to be any serious injuries among those involved you need to call an ambulance immediately as this could be the difference between life and death in some situations. If there doesn’t appear to be any injuries amongst the people who were involved in the crash there is no need to alert the authorities and you can move on to the next steps of the accident process.

Consult an Attorney

Even if you weren’t the person who caused the car crash, it’s always prudent to consult a specialist car accident attorney to provide you with guidance on the insurance claim you intend to file. By consulting a lawyer you can rest assured you’ll get the most out of your insurance claim, click here if you want to find out more about how they can accomplish this. If the other party in the crash is being uncooperative about the crash your lawyer can assist you with how to properly proceed with this issue and resolve the dispute in the best way possible. If it gets to the point where you need to sue the other party to get proper compensation your lawyer will also be able to represent you in court.

Get to Together Relevant Information

After you’ve made sure everyone involved in the accident is ok, you can now begin the process of collecting all the information needed to file a car insurance claim. Exchange your personal and insurance information with the other party to start your claim. If the other party is uncooperative in this matter try to at least take down their license plate number so you can use it as a reference. If you have a camera or a smartphone on you try to take some pictures of the scene of the accident that you can use for your claim if it comes to that. If there was any medical treatment that was required as a result of the accident be sure to hold on to these documents as well.

File your Insurance Claim

Once you’ve completed your consultation with your attorney, you can now go and file your insurance claim. Approach your insurance company with all the documentation you collected and file any paperwork they require you to fill out. If the compensation offered doesn’t seem to be in line with what your plan was supposed to cover try to dispute the claim with help from your lawyer.

Car accidents can happen at practically any moment, so it’s critical you know what to do in the event that you get into one yourself. Immediately after the accident the first thing you need to do is check that everyone involved in the accident is safe and doesn’t require any medical treatment. After that, you can then begin the process of exchanging your insurance information with the other driver and collecting as much information as you can about the accident such as taking pictures. Then you need to go and consult a car accident specialist attorney who will be able to guide you through the accident claim process and help you get the most out of it. Finally, once your lawyer gives you the go-ahead, you can now go and file your insurance claim so that you can get your life back on track again. With this knowledge, you’ll be prepared in the case that you do get into a car crash and will be able to get back on your feet in no time!

The increase in road travel means an increase in car accidents, so we explain the steps you must follow after suffering an accident.

Being prepared to react adequately to a car accident and knowing how to manage stress in these circumstances is very important if we want to minimize the consequences in the event of an accident. For this reason, we will discuss the steps to follow in the event of a traffic accident.

Stay calm

First of all, once the car crash has occurred, the most important thing is to try to stay calm. Then, get the other users involved to do so as well. Next, if there are no serious injuries, we must proceed to take as many photos as possible of the environment, the state of the vehicles after the impact, and the road marking, since it can help us when determining the guilt of the incident. It is very important to take the photos before moving the vehicles from the scene of the accident.

Witnesses of the car accident

The next step to follow is highly recommended, although most people do not do it because of the nerves of the moment. It is about requesting the data and a form of contact to the possible witnesses of the accident. Because they can clarify the events that occurred from an objective point of view. These data must be handed over to the police or the Civil Guard.

After that, it is essential to take the data of the other driver involved — personal data, make and model of the vehicle, color of the vehicle, license plate and the data of your insurance policy. Later you can fill in a friendly accident report. This document is very relevant. Because it allows the claim procedures to be carried out within a period of between 5 and 15 days. In addition, it serves as proof that the opposing driver acknowledges their involvement in the car accident. So it is essential that both parties sign it once it is completed and keep a copy each.


There might be casualty during the accident. The first thing to do is call the emergency helpline number and transmit as precisely as possible the exact location of the accident, and the state in which the injured are, so that medical assistance can arrive as soon as possible. The police or the Civil Guard will also go to the scene of the car accident to draw up a report of the incident.

During the waiting time until the arrival of the ambulance and the authorities, it is essential to place the emergency triangles on the road to mark the scene of the accident. Also, you should protect the injured and avoid further problems. It is very important to know that we must not move the injured or try to take them to the hospital on our own, since we could be aggravating their condition. What you always have to do is wait for the health services to arrive to treat the victims.

The moments right after a car collision are filled with shock, confusion, and sometimes pain. Understanding how to act when your car was involved in an accident helps you prepare to do everything right if one happens. You need to protect yourself, your property, and your rights.

This is where this article comes in – we included some of the most important steps to take in the aftermath of a car accident.

Knowing these steps beforehand will save you from additional stress and a moment of panic when you are unsure of what to do next in an already very hectic environment.

Assess the Accident Scene and Other People Involved

How to act after a car accidentAlways check if it’s safe first.

The most important thing to do after getting in an accident is making sure everyone involved gets emergency medical attention if necessary. This goes for you, any passengers in your car, other drivers and passengers in other vehicles, pedestrians, or anyone else affected at the scene. Do not put yourself in more risk by stepping out into traffic or letting your anger get the better of you. It is also important to check if the incident site is safe (i.e. no gasoline leak).

Contact the Police and Emergency Services

How to act after a car accidentCall emergency services.

Call 911 or other emergency service numbers to report the accident and get an ambulance on scene as quickly as possible. If the crash was just a minor fender bender, you should still notify the authorities. This is especially true if your vehicles or any parts are blocking traffic or making the roadway dangerous or difficult to navigate in any way.

Take Pictures and Other Details

It helps to take photos and record other details about the scene of the collision. For example, get a picture of a cracked bumper, dent, scrape, any damage to signs, bushes, or other surrounding objects, and the damage on the other vehicles involved.

At the same time, get the name and contact information of the other party involved, their insurance policy carriers, and ask witnesses for their details, too. In the case of an insurance claim or legal case, these bystanders may help considerably. If the police are there or on their way, they can also gather this information.

Share Dashcam Footage

Tell police officers that you have dashcam footage and share it with them if necessary. This is one of the best ways to protect your rights and make sure that the truth comes out about who caused the accident and how everything occurred. This is important not only for potential legal charges like reckless driving or running a red light but also for any insurance claims or civil legal action.

How to act after a car accidentBlackVue DR900S-2CH dashcam will provide you with crystal clear evidence.

Dashcam footage provides the strongest evidence of what really happened during a car accident. With a quality setup like the BlackVue DR900S series dashcam, you get true 4K UHD visuals of everything in front of and behind your car. You can download the footage instantly via the direct Wi-Fi connection or over the Cloud.

Prepare yourself to act in the best way possible after a car crash in order to minimize stress, expenses, and legal problems. Keep your cool, get necessary medical care, contact the authorities promptly, take pictures and record video with the best dashcam technology around.

If you do all of these things, you can get over the horrible experience more quickly and efficiently.

You’re driving home from work and stop for yet another red light when suddenly the car behind you slams right into your vehicle. You just want to get home, so you agree to exchange phone numbers and be on your way. You can deal with this later, right? NO. You must protect yourself after a car accident, starting immediately. The following steps explain what to do – and what not to do – after a car crash.

  1. At the scene of the crash.

Call the police! Yes, you should. Getting a police report helps you begin documenting what happened most accurately. It will also make sure you have all the necessary information about the driver who hit you, their vehicle, and the vehicle’s insurance. Most police agencies now require their officers to wear body cameras, which may capture valuable information about the scene as well.

Check for injuries! If you or your passengers need to go to the hospital, the officer can call for an ambulance if you haven’t already. Document your pain by telling officers and paramedics what you are feeling.

Take pictures! You can take an unlimited number of pictures on your phone, so take multiple pictures of your vehicle, the vehicle that hit you, and anything else on scene that may be helpful. Take pictures from far away to show the entire scene and closeups to show details of any damage. The police can help get your vehicle towed if necessary.

Stay calm! This is not the time to argue about what happened or apologize for anything you feel you could have done differently. Anything you say can later be used against you, so don’t put yourself in that position.

How to act after a car accident

Locate witnesses! If anyone saw the crash happen, be sure to get their information. If a dispute arises, it will help you to have an independent witness explain what they saw.

  1. Hiring an attorney.

Don’t delay hiring an attorney! An experienced personal injury attorney will help you through the claims process, present the strongest demand to the insurance company, and fight for you to achieve the highest possible compensation. Even minor crashes are best handled with competent legal representation.

  1. Reporting the crash.

Report the crash to your insurance company either over the phone or online. They will give you a claim number and help start the process. If you have already hired your attorney, they will help you with this too.

The other driver’s insurance company may call you and ask for a statement. Do not agree to this until you have discussed it with your lawyer. Again, anything you say can later be used against you, so remember that less is more. This statement may not be necessary at all, but if it is your attorney will have the opportunity to advise you.

  1. Seeking medical treatment.

If you are injured, it is important to seek medical attention quickly. In Florida, your personal injury protection (PIP) will cover up to $10,000.00 of your medical bills as long as two conditions are met: (1) treatment begins within 14 days of the crash, and (2) you have a documented emergency medical condition (EMC). Tell your doctor everything you have been feeling since the crash to document your injuries. Your doctor will help you with a treatment plan to get you feeling better quickly!

Keep in mind that immediately after the crash you may not feel all of your injuries yet. Once the adrenaline wears off you may find that you are more hurt than you think. It is always a good idea to get checked out.

Being involved in a crash can be an uncomfortable experience. It can cause you physical pain and emotional stress. Having competent legal representation can help to ease the anxiety. Each case is unique and deserves a thorough investigation and plan of action. At Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, our attorneys have handled a wide range of car accident cases. We will make sure that you are prepared and informed throughout each step of your case. Let our attorneys help you achieve the best possible financial outcome while you focus on your health and getting better!

After being in a car accident, it is normal to feel shaken. Whether it was a fender bender with no severe injuries or whether multiple vehicles were totaled, the very act of colliding with another car, pedestrian, or even an inanimate object is frightening. You may wish to seek solace with friends and family or even with a therapist to help you get over your trauma. One thing that you don’t want to do, however, is delay in filing all of the necessary paperwork, and, if necessary, seeking out a personal injury law firm. That is especially true if you sustained any bodily or psychological harm.

By Acting Swiftly, You Have A Better Chance of Holding Those Responsible Accountable

If you have visible injuries after the accident, it behooves you to seek reparation before they heal. That way it is obvious what happened. You should take pictures of the injuries before they fade as well. You should also see a doctor immediately so that there is medical documentation from a professional as to what happened. This will come in handy if the responsible party tries to dispute your version of events.

How to act after a car accident

Filing A Claim Quickly Will Speed Up the Repair Process

You are presumably going to want to get back on the road as soon as possible, as you likely have a job to go to, the kids to take to and from school, groceries to pick up, and similar errands. By delaying in filing the insurance claim, it only means more time until you get your car fixed or get a suitable replacement if it is totaled.

You Want Your Version of the Accident on Record

You want the legal support for your car accident cases, which is why you should file an insurance claim even if the accident is minor. The other party might suggest not filing a claim since it might raise your rates, but never follow that advice. The other driver might then decide to file a claim later and change the details of what happened, or even try to claim injuries that didn’t occur. You need your insurance company to hear your version of events as soon as possible, like if the other vehicle was speeding, for instance.

How to act after a car accident

A Lawyer Can Act Immediately to Maximize Your Settlement

If you plan to file a lawsuit against the other driver or drivers for injuries sustained, you want to get started with no delays. The details will be fresh in your mind, and you’ll have legal representation so that you can get the best advice as any new developments come to pass.

How to act after a car accident

Regardless of whether you are at fault in the eyes of the law or the other driver is, you should act responsibly and expediently. That will ensure that you get back on the road as soon as you can. You can settle with all parties that were involved, and you can resume your normal activities with as little additional disruption to your routine as possible. Remember that as awful as a car accident can seem when it happens, it’s essential to pick up the pieces, persevere, and try to regain your equilibrium and place in the world.

Car accidents are one of life’s most challenging events. The best-case scenario for a car accident is an accident with no injuries and minimal damage to your vehicle. But what about those accidents that are more severe? Car accidents that involve total vehicle loss, injuries, or fatalities can have lasting effects that require speedy resolution.

Finding yourself in the midst of a complex car accident does not have to leave you feeling alone. Hiring a car accident lawyer can help you navigate through one of the most challenging moments of your life.

How to act after a car accident

When to Sue in a Car Accident

While it is possible to resolve your car accident personally through each party’s insurance company, hiring an auto accident attorney to review your case will bring you many benefits. If you plan to sue someone for a car accident, gathering some essential information will help expedite the process.

What Documentation Can You Gather from the Accident?

Make a record or a copy of everything from the accident: police reports, each party’s personal information and insurance information, and witness statements. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, and the damage sustained to each party’s vehicle.

What Can You Sue for After a Car Accident?

How to act after a car accident

Damages suffered from a car accident are not limited to just physical injuries. Damages can include medical bills, including chiropractic or physical therapy visits, missed time and wages from work, emotional distress, and the replacement of child car seats.

Who Do I Sue?

Find an auto accident attorney who specializes in cases like your own. Schedule a consultation or appointment and bring all documentation, estimations, and supporting information with you for your attorney to review. An attorney who is familiar with auto accidents like your own will give you a realistic expectation of what to expect from your case.

You have the option to sue the at-fault driver personally or their insurance company. Your lawyer can advise you which route to take based on the progress your case had made.

How to Sue a Company

When you are in a car accident with an insured, at-fault motorist, your insurance company will contact the at-fault motorist’s insurance company to begin negotiating to resolve the case. If the insurance company has refused denial of a request, such as medical bills or lost wages, you can personally sue the at-fault motorist. Most states do not allow the at-fault motorist’s insurance company to be sued. Instead, the at-fault driver is who should be sued.

How to Sue Someone

If the at-fault motorist does not have auto insurance, you can sue them personally. Unfortunately, suing a motorist who does not have insurance may also mean the person does not have assets to cover a lawsuit. While suing an uninsured motorist may rule in your favor, the lack of assets will leave you uncompensated.

How to act after a car accident

If the uninsured motorist does not have the means to reimburse you for damages, your best option is to discuss the matter with your insurance company. Your insurance company should be able to offer you payment under the uninsured motorist policy.

Car Accident Injuries

Even a mild car accident can cause a range of injuries to the parties involved.

Some of the most common injuries sustained in a car accident are:

  • Neck and Back Injuries – as car accidents typically involve a moving car coming to a stop, the neck and back are the most commonly injured part of the body. Injuries may include whiplash, herniated discs, and spinal misalignment.
  • Muscle Injuries – if you have been in a car accident, you know how sore you can feel the next day. This is because muscles, as well as tendons and ligaments, can be strained and bruised during an accident.
  • Head, Brain, and Spinal Cord Injuries – the most severe and often fatal car accident injuries are head, brain, and spinal cord injuries. Severe spinal cord injuries can result in paralysis. Head and brain injuries may include swelling of the brain, skull fracture, or a concussion. Any injury to the head, brain, or spinal cord should be taken seriously.

If you have sustained any of these injuries due to an at-fault motorist, you should be compensated for damages. These damages may be on-going, such as missed time from work, physical therapy, or frequent chiropractor visits. These damages should be included in the total amount listed in the impending lawsuit.


If you have been in a car accident, you need to begin gathering all information and documentation pertaining to the incident. Provide pictures from the accident scene, as well as the police report, personal information, insurance information, and witness information. Gathering this essential information will help your lawyer prepare your case to file against the at-fault motorist.

Make a record of the damages that you have incurred. These damages can be medical bills and doctors’ visits, lost wages from missed work, emotional distress, and damaged property, such as child car seats.

Give your lawyer all documentation and records pertaining to your accident. Your lawyer will review the information and prepare legal documents to file.

When the lawsuit has been filed, your lawyer will begin taking depositions and gathering evidence to prepare for court. During this time, your lawyer and the at-fault party’s lawyer will exchange information about the evidence that will be presented at the hearing.

During this time, a settlement may be proposed by the defense in order to refrain from going to court. Your lawyer will advise you if you should accept the offer and settle out-of-court, or if you should proceed with litigation. Most civil cases are settled out-of-court; however, you can choose for a judge to hear your case in court.

If you go to court, your lawyer will present evidence and witness testimony during the hearing. Once all evidence from both sides has been presented, a judge will make the filing ruling. This ruling may or may not be in your favor, depending on the evidence presented. Additionally, the judgment awarded may be less than the requested amount.

To maximize your reimbursement, hire a reputable lawyer who is familiar with cases like your own. Through your lawyer’s advisement of the documentation you present, you will know how likely you are to win your case.

A car accident in Georgia can come with many questions and a great deal of confusion regarding your rights to recovery. Georgia is a fault-based insurance state, meaning you will seek damage benefits from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. A settlement may pay for repairs to your vehicle, but what about when it’s time to sell your car? Who will reimburse you for the diminished value of your vehicle post-crash? Explore this widely misunderstood Georgia law to protect your right to compensation as a claimant.

What Does Diminished Value Mean?

If you’ve ever checked the value of your vehicle, you’ll know the survey asks if your car has ever been in an accident. Answering “yes” to this question – even if you’ve since repaired the vehicle and it looks/drives like new – will consequently drop the value of the vehicle. This is because collisions diminish the value of a vehicle, sometimes by thousands of dollars, regardless of the quality of repairs. Shoppers are less inclined to purchase a vehicle that has been in an accident.

Diminished value is a future loss all car accident survivors should consider when calculating their damages. Although it is not an out-of-pocket expense, it is money the claimant would have eventually received were it not for the accident. Thus, the at-fault driver (or his/her insurance company) should be liable to repay this loss. Unfortunately, most claimants don’t understand or have never heard of Georgia’s diminished value law. Thus, they unwittingly allow insurance companies to keep this money.

Insurance companies almost never offer to pay for the diminished value of a claimant’s vehicle unless the claimant asks. Insurers will intentionally keep this information to themselves if the claimant doesn’t bring it up. Insurance companies have kept millions of dollars from claimants over the years by failing to disclose the diminished value law. Almost no driver bothers to mention it during a claim, often because they don’t know about it or don’t know how to ask. Yet it’s up to you as a claimant to know about this law and act on it.

How to Use the Law to Your Advantage

Never keep silent about the diminished value of your vehicle during the insurance claims process. Ask your insurance company about diminished value damages at the beginning of the claims process. Georgia law gives you the right to claim the amount of money you will lose due to the depreciation of the value of your vehicle if and when you decide to sell. Calculate this amount by examining the value of your vehicle before and after the crash (with help from a mechanic if necessary), then finding the difference between the two.

Low-quality repairs to your vehicle may further diminish its value. You could qualify for even greater compensation if someone poorly or incorrectly repairs your vehicle following a collision. Once you’ve calculated the diminished value of your vehicle and your related future losses, take this sum to the at-fault party’s insurance company. List it as part of the damages you seek in your claim. Then, wait for the insurance company to review your request and decide to deny or accept the amount you ask.

Not all vehicles qualify for diminished value recovery in Georgia. Only vehicles with substantial market value (over $7,000), greater than $500 in property damage, low-to-normal mileage, a clean title, and those that are less than 10 years old may qualify for this type of compensation. You will only qualify if you file your claim within the statutes of limitations. If you do qualify, the insurance company must pay the diminished value of your vehicle by law. Failure to do so may be grounds for an insurance bad faith claim. If you have questions about your claim, contact an Atlanta car accident lawyer for a free consultation.

Single-incident trauma, such as a car crash, can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health psychologist Terri deRoon-Cassini, PhD, reviews PTSD symptoms and discusses the importance of treatment.

Stories about people suffering from PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, have become increasingly visible in today’s media. Often, the stories we hear about PTSD are about soldiers returning from war. But the effects of PTSD are more far-reaching, and more common, than these stories portray.

Single-incident trauma, when a person experiences trauma or injury once, such as a car accident, and then the trauma episode is over, can cause PTSD. Although there are still many aspects about the brain we do not understand, researchers and experts across the country have found several effective methods to treat PTSD. My team, which works with patients at Froedtert & MCW adult Level I Trauma Center, has developed appropriate systems for recognizing and treating individuals with PTSD. Using research, we have developed a screening tool to help identify trauma survivors who are likely to develop PTSD or depression. Single-incident trauma survivors, such as car accident or gunshot wound survivors, may be diagnosed with PTSD if they experience a set of very specific symptoms:

  • Intrusive or re-experiencing: These symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, visual or auditory memories (such as a gunshot victim hearing gunshot sounds even if a gun isn’t firing) or repetitive thinking about the traumatic event. These symptoms may disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Avoidance or emotional numbing: This occurs when a person doesn’t want to be around the people, place or situation that reminds the person of the event. While some anxiety is normal for anyone involved in a traumatic event, if avoidance or numbing keeps someone from doing daily activities, it may be a sign of PTSD.
  • Hyper-arousal: This is a nervous anxiety response to things that didn’t previously lead to such a response. Increased heart rate, increased respiration, stomach butterflies or sweating might occur around certain events that didn’t bother the individual before the trauma.
  • Negative changes in mood and thinking: Some people may become down or depressed after a traumatic event that might change how they see the world around them. An example is beginning to believe that driving is unsafe after someone survives a car crash.

Treating PTSD

It’s important to understand that PTSD is a very treatable condition. With expert care and management, people can learn to manage their PTSD and get back to their normal daily routines. If an individual does screen positive for PTSD, but is not distressed, they are given education about what to look for in their behavior. We also keep an open line of communication with them, providing support when needed. If an individual screens positive for PTSD and is distressed, we offer several treatments.

When acute intervention is necessary, we first normalize the individual’s symptoms and help him or her to understand it’s natural to feel nervous. We help the person understand why he or she is feeling anxious or upset. In some cases, we might employ behavioral therapy, helping to find ways to manage triggers and anxiety. For example, if a woman has been in a car crash, there is no way around feeling nervous the first time she gets back in her car. We would coach her to feel grounded and “in the moment” so she can shift her mind from worry thoughts to the present. We know from our brain research that the worst thing she can do is not get back in the car. The longer she avoids getting in the car, the bigger her anxiety and nervousness can become. If a trauma survivor flees from a situation that triggers fear and memories, she’s teaching herself behaviorally, and we believe neurologically, to avoid. With expert care, we can coach her through the triggers and fear so she can begin driving again.

Get Help for PTSD

The most important thing for a person to remember after a trauma, if they start to notice symptoms, is to contact a mental health professional. If within a few weeks or a month of the trauma, an individual is having trouble sleeping, is avoiding events that remind them of the trauma or avoids talking about the trauma because they are scared of the emotions it elicits, they should consider seeking medical attention. Everyone perceives situations differently, and PTSD is a real condition, not a sign of weakness.

Fear bypasses the rational part of brain and is an automatic response. As a community, we must make sure we don’t stigmatize someone who might be fearful because that could have long-term neurological consequences for trauma survivors.

About the Author

Terri deRoon-Cassini, PhD, is a health psychologist and a national leader in research and treatment of survivors of trauma. She was named to the Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 list in 2016 for her work with patients at the Froedtert & MCW adult Level I Trauma Center, one of only a few U.S. hospitals that routinely screens trauma patients for PTSD symptoms.

Members of the editorial and news staff of USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

The vast majority of car accident cases are resolved through settlement negotiations between the injured party and an insurance company. Only a tiny percentage of car accident cases reach the court for trial. This is because car accident claims can often be favorably resolved without filing a lawsuit.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, read on to learn about the car accident settlement process and timeline.

Reporting Car Accidents

Most states require drivers to report car accidents to the local police department, country sheriff, or state highway patrol. Additionally, some states require a written report of the accident if anyone was seriously injured or killed or if there was severe property damage.

Check your state’s law to find out the specific reporting requirements.

Car Insurance Laws

Almost all states (except Virginia and New Hampshire) require drivers to carry car insurance. Generally, there are two types of systems regarding car accident liability:

  1. At-fault system
  2. No-fault system

Your car accident settlement process will depend on which system your state follows.

At-Fault System (Traditional Insurance Coverage)

Most states follow the traditional fault system, which makes the person who is at fault for a car accident responsible for the resulting damages. Once it becomes clear that the other driver was at fault, you have the following options:

  1. File a claim with your own insurance company;
  2. File a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company; or
  3. File a lawsuit against that driver.

Although you can file a lawsuit, keep in mind that choosing to file a suit opens the door for the other party to counter-sue you.

No-Fault System

If your state follows the no-fault system, you can collect economic damages (e.g., medical expenses and lost wages) regardless of who caused the accident. Your insurance company is required to pay you for personal injuries up to your policy limit. Under this system, you cannot sue the other driver, which shields you from being sued as well.

Car Accident Settlement Process

Settling your claim means resolving your dispute without going to trial, which is the way most car accident claims are resolved. Parties tend to settle before going to court because a favorable outcome isn’t guaranteed in a jury trial. By filing an insurance claim, you can recover damages for any medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering damages that resulted from your car accident.

First, you will need to gather the necessary information and evidence that will support your claim. You must support your claim with evidence, such as medical records, medication, and medical treatment receipts, witness testimony, and photos. After you’ve gathered the necessary information and documents, you’ll need to draft a demand letter, stating your claim, explaining your injuries, and laying out the damages you’d like to recover.

Once you send the demand letter, the insurance company will investigate your case and determine whether to accept or deny it. If the insurance provider accepts your claim, it will make a settlement offer. At this point, both parties will negotiate to come to an agreement. If the company denies your claim, it will likely allow you to make an appeal to the claims adjuster. If you are suing the other driver, you will need to make an initial filing by drafting a complaint and submitting it to a county or district court.

Statutes of Limitations: Time Limit to File a Car Accident Claim

Every state has its own statutes of limitations, which are laws placing time limits on when you can file an injury claim. Depending on the state, you may have from 1 to 6 years to file a lawsuit against the other driver for car accident damages. The clock starts ticking from the moment of the accident. After the time limit expires, you won’t be able to sue the other driver and recover the damages for what you have suffered.

These serious injury cases can take time for the accident analysis, insurance companies to review the claim, insurance adjusters to offer damages and injury attorneys to discuss back and forth on the injury settlement.

Learn More About the Car Accident Settlement Process: Call a Lawyer

Auto accidents are subject to many state-specific laws like car insurance policies, statutes of limitations, and damage caps for things like medical bills. As a result, it’s easy to underestimate your damages or even overlook important factors in your case.

If you’re considering filing a car accident claim or have received a settlement offer, an injury attorney at a personal injury law firm can help you make the right choices.