With everything that’s happened in 2020 and the continuation of events in 2021, getting hurt in a car wreck is probably not the 1st thing on your mind this year. But with the number of traffic accidents on the rise, the number of those injured are also increasing. It is now as important as ever to remain vigilant, safe, and smart to protect yourself from Covid 19 but we also do not want to forget to protect ourselves insofar as possible from having a wreck. According to this article by Doug Turnbull for the AJC, the amount of traffic deaths as a result of car wrecks increased for the year 2020 despite a dramatic reduction in the number of commuters on the road in Georgia. In consideration of this trend, it is increasingly important that we be mindful of our safety on the road in 2021.
So what do you do if you have a wreck and get hurt?
If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of getting hurt in a wreck, there are steps that you must take immediately following the accident to ensure that your injury is handled properly. These 10 steps will ensure that you are on the right path to properly documenting and submitting your insurance claim to ensure that you are properly cared for and compensated for your damages.
- Try to remain calm and slow your rate of breathing to avoid hyperventilation so that you can effectively evaluate the scene and person(s), vehicle(s), and/or property(s) involved.
- Never leave the scene before speaking with emergency personnel and provide all of the necessary FACTS of the accident without speculation or your opinion as to which party may be at fault. This means that you should in no way say that you are at fault or that anyone else is at fault. Leave this determination for an experienced car accident attorney.
- If possible, turn on your hazard lights and remove your vehicle from the travel lanes to the roadside to avoid additional traffic hazards or potential for additional accidents.
- Collect the names and contact information of all the person(s) involved as well as anyone who might have witnessed the accident.
- Take photos of the entire wreck site including damage to vehicle(s), person(s) involved, any and all injuries you may have, any property damage such as damaged fences or homes, and any tire tracks, sings, objects in the road, or any other pictures that may help in the determination of how the wreck happened.
- As soon as you are able to do so, write down any and all information you where able to gather and obtain a police report as soon as it is available. Auto insurance companies will use this information to determine liability.
- Get medical treatment! One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to get looked at by a medical professional. Even if you don’t believe you have injuries or if you believe that they’re not that bad, have a medical professional look at you immediately any way. During moments of high stress such as after an accident, our bodies may release high amounts of adrenaline that could be masking a serious injury that may not be felt for many hours or even days in some cases. Even what could be considered a minor wreck has the potential to damage your body’s ligaments joints and tendons which could result in a lifetime of pain or even death in the most serious of cases! You cannot wait. You must get looked at by a qualified medical professional as soon as possible!
- Notify your insurance company as soon as you possibly can to submit a claim keeping very careful to give only the facts about the accident. As with when speaking to emergency personnel or police officers, only provide your insurance company with facts and not your opinion or speculation on who is at fault. Also, you do not have to speak with the other party(s) insurance company at any time and should politely decline to do so if they ask you. An insurance company may record what you say could use it against you in an attempt to deny a claim.
- If necessary, get a rental car. Even if you are not at fault for the wreck, you may have to submit a claim for damages including a rental car with your own insurance. In doing so, you are not necessarily admitting fault and your insurance company will settle with the insurance company representing the at-fault driver.
- Contact a reputable auto accident attorney for further information to help guide you throughout the tedious claim process. The right lawyer can make the difference in getting you the appropriate compensation or potentially getting nothing.
This is a great outline of what can be a stressful and confusing process, particularly after sustaining an injury. With the right representation from an experienced legal team, you will be well on your way to recovering by taking the necessary steps to ensure that you are appropriately reimbursed for any damages sustained from a car wreck.
Can an insurance company deny my claim?
There are instances in which you may have an auto insurance claim denial. These are often situations in which a party involved in an accident may have sustained damages well beyond the policy coverage limits. This is why it is absolutely imperative that motorists fully understand their insurance policy including the coverages and/or limitations of their policy. A wise consideration for motorists is to ensure their policy contains additional protections such as Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay) which will pay for additional medical expenses for you and the other occupants of the car (regardless of fault) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that will allow reimbursement for lost wages and trips to doctor’s appointments related to your car wreck.
One other reason an insurance company may deny a claim is if an involved party is driving illegally and/or without the proper licensing. If you where driving without a license, driving while under the influence, without automobile insurance, or if it is determined by the insurance company that the accident was avoidable, you could be subject to a claim denial. Again, driving safely, legally, and planning accordingly while also ensuring your insurance is valid are among the best ways to avoid having your claim denied. It is also very important that your insurance company have the correct and current information about you that was used when you where first quoted your policy. If it is found through the claims process that you gave inaccurate or incomplete information during your quote, they could use that as a reason to deny your insurance claim.
In many cases, these insurance claims denials are avoidable by taking the appropriate steps as outlined above. But the greatest protection against these denials may start with you being appropriately covered and legal in every possible way while driving.
Car wrecks and injuries happen. But even if you are hurt, don’t add insult to injury by not being appropriately represented by the experienced legal team you can trust.