The aftermath of a car accident is a stressful time for anyone. Whether you're at fault in a collision, here are five tips to help you gather information, establish the facts and get the best possible compensation from insurance companies if you or your loved one is in an accident.
Take pictures and get contact information.
According to legal information site AllLaw.com, it's important for you to document the accident yourself: the position of the vehicle, any damage to the body of the car, skid marks on the asphalt, even the weather. Take photos of any visible injuries you may have sustained. You should also get contact information of the drivers involved and any witnesses.
See a doctor.
Even if you're not in pain right away, make an appointment with your doctor. It's common for some injuries — neck pain, back pain, headaches — not to manifest for a few days after the accident. Be sure to keep all your appointments because gaps in medical treatment can affect personal injury claims. (AllLaw.com explains it like this: Say you miss a physical therapy appointment. An insurance adjuster may take this as proof that your injuries were not as severe as you reported.)
Keep all receipts for medical payments, notes from doctor's visits and any documentation of days of work you may have missed because of your injuries. These types of records are essential to make an insurance claim.
Hire a lawyer.
You have a much better chance of getting more money in a settlement if you hire an attorney. Most lawyers don't charge fees upfront and will work as a buffer between you and insurance adjusters.
Even if you caused the accident, remember that Michigan is a no-fault state. According to personal injury firm Goodman Acker, this means both drivers in a collision may be able to get compensation from insurance companies, no matter which driver caused the accident. Your attorney will gather any evidence you have, your medical records and bills, the accident report and any witness statements to create this letter to send to insurance companies.
Don't talk to insurance companies.
Anything you say to an insurance adjuster could be used against you to hurt your claim. Goodman Acker cautions that insurance companies will use whatever information they can to keep their money from you. So don't admit fault. Don't apologize. If an insurance representative contacts you, don't allow them to record a statement. Refer them directly to your attorney and hang up.
Don't sign anything.
Insurance companies may ask you to sign authorizations to allow them to view your employment and medical information. Don't sign anything. Law information site HG.org makes this clear: You don't have to sign anything. You can tell the insurance company that you will provide it with the relevant information and, as always, refer it to your lawyer.
Remember that it's best to have an experienced attorney to help get the biggest settlement you can. Goodman Acker has decades of experience representing victims of car accidents. Its attorneys work with you to gather the necessary documentation to make a strong insurance claim. Let them do the legwork so you can focus on recovering from your accident.