NEXT STEPS AFTER AN ACCIDENT
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, in 2019, there were 145,288 car crashes, which equals almost 400 crashes a day. Whether the driver was young or old, alert or distracted, a car crash can have serious consequences.
At The Paul Benson Law Firm, I work hard to represent Rock County residents who have suffered in a car accident. I’ve been advocating for personal injury victims for years, ensuring that they are treated fairly during a stressful time. I am proud to serve clients in Janesville and Beloit, Wisconsin, in their personal injury needs.
Steps To Take After an Accident
A single moment of distraction can cause a car accident. It’s a horrible reality that happens every day. If you’ve been in a car accident, then you may be overwhelmed by what’s just happened and what your next steps should be. Here’s what to do after an accident.
Safety and Medical Care
Your physical safety comes first. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. You may need to call an ambulance. If possible, move your vehicle to the shoulder or a side road.
Even if you don’t believe you were injured, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and some injuries may not appear for days or even weeks after the accident. At that point, it may be too late to reverse the damages.
It’s also important to seek medical care so you have documentation of your injuries. You will need these medical records when you file the insurance claim. In fact, if you don’t seek medical care promptly after the accident, some insurance companies will use that delay against you and argue that your injuries weren’t serious enough to warrant medical attention.
Call the Police
Even if the accident was minor and the other driver is being cooperative, you should call the police. In Wisconsin, if the accident was any more serious than a minor fender bender, you are required by law to notify the police. The police report may also help you in making your insurance claim.
Although you’ve just suffered the stress of a car accident, it’s important to try to remain calm and gather all the information you need. Write down (on paper or type in your phone) the other driver’s name, phone number, license plate number, and driver’s license number.
If there were witnesses, you should write down their names and phone numbers as well. Again, it’s important that you call the police so the officer can put together an official police report. You should seek medical attention so that you have medical records as well.
Lastly, you need to write down your own account of what happened. Draw a diagram of the accident and record in your own words how the accident occurred.
Make sure to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Some insurance companies require that they be notified within as little as two days after the accident. After the accident, call your insurance company as soon as you can.
Hire an Attorney
Consider these two points to find out if you need to hire an attorney. Here’s the first one: Does the other driver’s insurance company not want you to hire a lawyer? If the answer is yes, then you definitely should. The insurance company doesn’t have your best interests in mind, and they know an attorney will fight for you.
The second point is that a good personal injury lawyer will pay for himself. That means that the damages, or financial compensation you’ll receive, will be more than what you’d receive from insurance alone. As an experienced personal injury attorney, I negotiate with your medical providers to make sure your settlement money isn’t completely eaten up by hospital bills. I know how to find hidden insurance coverage for your damages.
After a car accident, look out for these possible extra burdens.
If the other driver in the accident doesn’t have insurance, that could spell serious problems for you. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, then your policy will payout for your damages. However, if you do not have this coverage, then you could be on the hook for what the other driver’s insurance should have covered.
Consider All Costs
Car accidents have more hidden costs than you might imagine. The most significant is lost wages for time off work. You will most likely have to take time off work – to go to the doctor, to pick up your car from the shop, to consult with your insurance company – and you may lose income because of it. These hidden costs can quickly add up.
Are the Medical Costs Final?
How do you know if you’ve had your last medical appointment related to the accident? It can be difficult to be certain that you’ve received your last bill for what happened. You may receive bills in the mail months, or even years, after the accident.
Low First Settlement Offer
When you first hear from an insurance company after an accident, the settlement offer you receive may be shockingly low. It might not even begin to cover your car repairs and medical expenses. Don’t accept the first settlement offer if you don’t think it will cover your expenses. Speak with a personal injury attorney first.
Statute of Limitations
Don’t let the days go by without taking action. In Wisconsin, you must file a personal injury lawsuit within three years after the date of the accident. Once three years have passed, you can no longer sue for damages.
Getting Help from An Experienced Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney
A car accident creates both physical and emotional burdens, not to mention financial stress. You don’t have to face these problems on your own. I have years of experience fighting for personal injury victims in Janesville and Beloit, Wisconsin, and throughout Rock County. Contact The Paul Benson Law Firm today to schedule your consultation.