Winning a car accident lawsuit is more than just hiring a good car accident lawyer – it’s about knowing how to collect and preserve vital evidence to prove your case and leverage a superior settlement offer. This article will provide you with tips and best practices that will significantly increase your chances of winning your car accident lawsuit and maximizing an award of money damages.
1. After a car accident, keep calm and remain alert.
Many people become angry immediately after a car accident. It’s a natural and understandable reaction but it isn’t going to help you focus on collecting vital information at the scene and maintaining your composure while communicating with other people.
2. Stay at the scene of the accident and make sure that you and your passengers are safe.
Don’t leave the scene of a car accident unless there is good reason to do so, e.g. you are in a dangerous, deserted or unsafe area. Make sure that you and your passengers haven’t suffered serious bodily harm and that you are safe from oncoming traffic.
3. Call the Police or 911.
If your car accident involves substantial property damage, personal injury or death, you should call the police immediately. If possible, obtain a time estimation of when a police officer is expected to arrive and use it wisely. Observe the scene taking note of what you many find. Look at damage to the vehicles, skid marks on the road, damage and debris at the scene as well as the demeanor and characteristics of the other driver and passengers in the other vehicle.
4. When you talk to the other driver or witnesses, do not apologize or say more than necessary.
Don’t ever say to the other driver or anyone else that you’re sorry the car accident occurred. Anyone who hears you might misunderstand your intention and believe it to be an apology or confession of fault. Say only what is necessary and remain collected, amicable and cooperative.
5. Exchange information with the other driver.
Get the name, phone number, address, drivers license number and basic insurance information from each driver. Write down the license plate numbers and states for each car involved in the accident. If there are passengers in any of the other vehicles, try to obtain names and contact information if possible. If the driver says anything important or incriminating, take notes and write it down.
6. Take pictures or video of the accident scene.
Take pictures of the accident scene, even if you only have a cell phone with a low resolution camera. Some pictures are better than none. It is good practice to keep a cheap disposable camera in your car – they can be purchased for as low as $5 – 10. It is also good practice to take some pictures of your car after purchase. If you end up having a car accident, those pictures can be used to compare what the care looked like before it was damaged and maximize the monetary compensation you could receive.
7. Speak to potential witnesses and bystanders.
If there were people who may have witnessed the car accident, speak to them and ask them what they saw and heard. If possible, get names and contact information. Jot down what each person told you they witnessed concerning the car accident. Ask them if they have seen other car accidents in the area before – perhaps there were existing hazardous conditions present before the car accident.
8. When you speak to the police officer, stay calm, collected and be firm and confident about yourself and your story.
Make sure to get your story straight in your head before the police arrive. When the police officer asks you what happened, don’t panic. The more collected and confident you are, the more credible you will appear. Say only what is necessary as providing too little information usually won’t hurt you but too much can easily do so. Don’t be intimidated if the other driver is being pushy and aggressive. Stand up for yourself, be confident in your story and always remain polite. When you are given a chance to review the police report, carefully read it over to make sure it is accurate. If you have any objections or feel that something is omitted, politely discuss it with the police officer.
9. Do not refuse medical treatment.
Don’t be a hero – even if you feel as though you aren’t hurt too severely, don’t refuse medical assistance. Whiplash injuries are the most common suffered in a car accident and its severity only manifests itself hours later. If you feel the slightest pain or discomfort, don’t decline a visit to the hospital. If you do, make sure that you visit your physician as soon as possible after the accident.
10. Write down your story and contact your Insurance Company immediately.
As soon as possible after the accident, write everything down that you remember which you haven’t already recorded while it is still fresh in your mind. Promptly contact your insurance company and share with them the fact that you have been in a car accident and share with them the relevant details. Don’t lie, omit or exaggerate the facts. The insurance company can deny you coverage and also charge you with insurance fraud if you do. Obtain a copy of the police report and remain interested and involved in your case.
11. Take it easy – don’t try to do too much after the accident.
Maximize your rest and don’t try to perform physical labor, work or exercise. Not only could you worsen the state of your injuries but you could also ruin your case. Pretend that there are cameras following you wherever you go – which might not even be too far from the truth. You don’t know if the other party or insurance company has hired a private investigator to make sure that you aren’t exaggerating the extent of your injuries.
12. Do not share, talk or tweet any information about the accident to anyone.
Be careful of what you say. Anything you say or do can be used against you and your case in a court of law. The less you say the better and Facebook posts, status updates, Twitter tweets and text messages are your worst enemy. Your attorney, doctor, the police and your insurance company are the only people and parties with whom you need to discuss the accident. Never talk to anyone from another insurance company without representation. At worst, you can obtain the contact information of the representative from the other insurance company and arrange for a follow up call.
13. Keep a journal of your condition and medical treatment.
Keep a diary of your general condition, dates and office visits for the doctors who are treating you, the medication they have prescribed and the costs and expenses for your treatment. Take pictures of your injuries.
14. Never settle without adequate legal advice and representation
In general, early settlement offers for your car accident case are usually not the best offers you’ll receive. In addition, many injuries and their effects do not appear for many years. You might require a great deal of money to cover the costs of therapy and offset lost wages. You should never settle a personal injury or car accident claim without having an experienced car accident lawyer assess whether all the compensation you should receive has been properly taken into account.