The first minutes and days after the crash are crucial. Even though you are probably more than a little shaken up, try to remember a few necessary steps.
First, see if anyone is seriously injured, including yourself, your passengers' and those in the other car(s). Call an ambulance, if needed. Whiplash is a common injury that may not have obvious symptoms immediately, so be on the lookout for any signs of neck trauma and seek immediate medical treatment. It is important to document and to keep information about the crash and your injuries
Next, it is strongly recommended that you contact the police immediately after a car crash, even if the damages may seem minor. In Montana it is the law that any accident causing $500 or more in property damage, or causing personal injury, must be reported. By contacting the police, a report will be filed and on record. If your injuries worsen, having a police report on file will help you pursue compensation. It's also important to exchange information with other drivers, recording their name, insurance and contact information. It is also important to obtain contact information from witnesses who can offer an outside perspective of the crash. Also, record the location of the crash as well as the time and date.
Finally, and this step may seem obvious in the digital age, but is surprising how many folks forget - take photos of the car damage, scene of the crash, and other vehicles involved.
What to do over the next few days....
Once you have returned home, after seeking proper medical care, you'll begin the process of dealing with an insurance company. The specifics of dealing with an insurance company or adjuster will vary depending on the companies involved and the scope of your injuries and damages. It is very important that you do not give any statements until you have talked to a lawyer. Otherwise, you risk saying something the insurance company may use to deny your claim, or attempt to reduce the amount of compensation you are entitled to at a later date.
In cases of severe injury or serious property damage, you should always talk to a lawyer experienced in handling car crashes. The more serious the crash, the higher the medical expense and repair bills will be, and the more likely you will need legal assistance getting your financial losses covered.
You should maintain complete and accurate records of every doctor visit. Start a file on your car crash and keep every receipt, the name and contact information of every person you have spoken to - anything related to your crash will be useful in proving negligence and your injuries when you hire a lawyer.
In the weeks following your car crash....
While insurance companies are required by law to uphold their policies, they may cover only the minimum dictated by the policy. For fender-bender crashes this will usually suffice, but if your car is totaled or you have serious injury, you will have more difficulty pursuing your claim without a lawyer.
If you have sustained injuries, talk with your doctor honestly. Do not exaggerate or understate your injury. If you require physical therapy or pain medication, or have to miss work, ask the doctor to indicate in your records that the car is necessary because of the car crash. This information can help you deal with insurance adjusters more effectively.
Finally, if you suspect the insurance company is not treating you fairly, contact us today. We have extensive experience in car crash insurance claims and can help you recover fair compensation for your injury and make sure the insurance company is playing by the rules!