Knowing how to navigate an experience resulting in a personal injury or property damage can go a long way in helping you recoup medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering damages. To help you prepare, here are five tips to guide you through the post-car-accident process.
Step 1: Dial 911
If you are able to do so, the first thing you want to do when you’re involved in an auto accident is to pull over safely and dial 911. The dispatcher will need information on the location of the accident, known injuries, and who is needed for help, such as paramedics and firemen.
When police arrive on the scene, you are required to cooperate in their investigation of the accident. Law enforcement is not required to hear your version of transpired events and will most likely only obtain basic information. In the event an officer feels you have violated Massachusetts traffic law, you may be issued a traffic citation. Keep in mind this is not an admission of guilt. Signing a traffic citation is not admissible in court as conclusive evidence of fault.
Step 2: Obtain Evidence
If you can safely do so, you’ll want to gather evidence to support future demands for compensation in the minutes following an accident. This involves obtaining vehicle and driver details, witness information, as well as photographing the accident scene.
Step 3: File a Report
Accidents resulting in injuries or property damage exceeding $1,000 require the filing of a crash report. You have five days to file the report, which can be obtained from the police or directly from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation website.
Step 4: Contact Your Insurance
Massachusetts is a no-fault insurance state, which means injured parties must first file claims through their own insurance company for victims to seek compensation for medical costs and related damages.
Step 5: Retain an Attorney
While some personal injury claims can be handled without legal representation, it’s essential to understand the extent of injuries for filing long-term claims. Sometimes serious injuries do not reveal themselves until weeks and even months after a serious accident. Typical automobile accident injuries, such as head trauma, fractures, burns, deep gashes requiring stitches, and other injuries requiring extensive medical care or testing, may require an experienced personal injury attorney. Compensation for such claims can be substantial. Attempting negotiations on your own can result in far less payout for your injuries and or damages.