What to Do if You’ve Been Injured in a Car Accident
The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be a traumatic and overwhelming time. You or a loved one may have sustained severe injuries and your vehicle may be damaged beyond repair. When faced with the stressful situation of a car crash, you may not know what to do or the next steps to take. Whether you were the driver or passenger, here’s are some of the best steps to take if you’ve been in a car accident:
1. Call the Police
One of the first things you should do if you’ve been in a car accident is call 911. In fact, notice to the police is required by law in North Dakota if someone is killed, injured, or property damage amounts to more than $4,000. When the police arrive at the scene, they will document the collision and generate a report that contains relevant information and details. A police report can be crucial to obtaining compensation for accident-related losses from an insurance company or other responsible parties. They can also be an important tool for an attorney to use in connection with any personal injury or property damage action that you might commence.
2. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Whether you think you’re injured or not, it’s essential to seek medical help immediately if you have been in a car accident. In many cases, an injured accident victim may not realize that they’ve been hurt due to the rush of adrenaline that occurs following a crash. By going to the emergency room or walk-in clinic right away, a doctor can rule out any serious internal injuries and provide you with the treatment you need. Seeking prompt medical attention is also vital to document your injuries should you later file a personal injury lawsuit — any delay could undermine your claim.
3. Obtain the Names and Contact Information for Any Witnesses
If possible, obtain the names and contact information for anyone who saw the accident as it occurred. Write down their statements regarding what they saw take place. Testimony from unbiased eyewitnesses can be crucial to help you obtain a favorable settlement or jury verdict.
4. Take Photos or Video Footage if Possible
Try to take photos or video footage of the accident scene with your cell phone. You should do this before vehicles are moved or any other changes are made to the accident scene. Be sure to take photographs of the damage to your vehicle, as well as your injuries. Check the area to see if there were any surveillance cameras that may have captured footage of the accident as it occurred.
5. Do Not Admit Fault if You Have Been in a Car Accident
Whether you’re speaking with the other driver, the police, insurance companies, or anyone else, do not speculate as to fault or say anything that could be misconstrued and used against you. When you are questioned by police or the insurance company, only answer factual statements. If you inadvertently admit fault or apologize when another party’s negligence is actually to blame for the crash, you may be denied the compensation to which you are entitled.
6. Call Your Insurer
Most insurance companies have a clause in the policies they issue specifying that the insured must notify the insurer if they have been in a car accident. In addition, North Dakota is a no-fault state. This means that you must file a claim under your own policy in order for your medical treatment to be covered, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
7. Do Not Speak with the At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company
You are not legally required to speak with the other party’s insurance company. They might try to contact you soon after an accident, but it’s important to be aware that they are not on your side. Their job is to try to disprove or reduce the value of your claim. However, once you have the representation of an attorney, the other side’s insurance company is not permitted to speak with you directly.
8. Do Not Accept a Settlement without Consulting with an Attorney
After an accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company might offer you a settlement. This is usually a lowball settlement offer and should not be accepted. Significantly, it is impossible to know the full extent of your damages very early on in a case — including economic losses such as medical expenses and lost wages. Many injuries take time to develop, and you will not be able to measure your economic and non-economic damages until they have accrued. When you accept a settlement offer too soon, you may be doing so before the maximum value of your case is known.
9. Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
The most important thing you can do to protect your rights and maximize your compensation is retain a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. They will be able to help you navigate the legal process of filing a personal injury claim and avoid any pitfalls along the way. A personal injury attorney will also know how to put a solid case together, gather evidence, and negotiate — or litigate — a favorable outcome.
Contact a Skillful North Dakota Personal Injury Attorney if You Have Been in a Car Accident
If you have been injured in a car accident due to another’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, it’s vital to have the representation of a skillful attorney. Located in Fargo, the personal injury attorneys at Fremstad Law Firm are committed to fighting for the rights of car accident victims throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. We welcome you to contact us online or by calling (701) 478-7620 to learn how we can help.