Car Accident FAQ
We’re here to help you take the steps you need following an accident.
Car accidents may happen quickly, but the aftermath of a collision can drag on for months or years. If you’ve been involved in an accident, here’s what you need to know.
This information is intended as a general overview of the steps to take after a car accident. To get more information on your specific case, contact us today for a free consultation.
What should I do immediately after an accident?
If you are in an automobile accident, it’s important to take certain steps and collect information to help your case. First, make sure everybody is out of the road and safe. Then take the following steps:
- Contact the police. Inform law enforcement if anyone is injured or if anyone is intoxicated.
- Gather the following information from people involved in the accident (including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and witnesses):
- Full names
- Addresses and driver’s license numbers
- License plate numbers
- Phone numbers
- Insurance status of drivers
- Make and model of cars
- Name of person to whom vehicle is registered
- Write down accident details, including the time and date of the accident, if anyone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the directions of the vehicles, how it occurred, the names and badge numbers of police officers who came to the scene, and any damage to the vehicles you saw.
- If you have a camera, take photographs of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles, skid marks, street signs, and weather conditions. If you don’t have a camera, get in touch with our firm right away so we can investigate the scene.
- Make a diagram showing the directions the vehicles were traveling and where the impact or impacts occurred.
- Note if there was anything “wrong” with the vehicles before the accident, such as a broken headlight or bald tires, or if any vehicles were towed from the scene.
- Take note if anyone accepts responsibility for the accident. Someone may say, “I’m sorry. It was my fault,” or “I couldn’t see you because I forgot my glasses,” or something similar. Don’t make any such statements yourself – liability for an accident is a complex thing, at the scene, you’re not in a position to make that judgment. Anything you say can (and will) be used against you in a future personal injury claim.
- Seek medical help. Visit your doctor even if you do not think you were directly injured in the accident. Injuries such as whiplash and internal injuries sometimes are not felt until a few days after the accident. Being seen right away not only protects your health, but also makes it easier to recover damages later.
- Notify your insurance company. If you wait too long to tell the insurance, they may deny your claim. However, don’t make any statements regarding fault or liability for the accident. Stick to the facts, and tell them to contact your attorney if they have any further questions.
- Contact us. Our experienced attorneys can help you get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call (215) 953-5200.
How can I prove the other driver was at fault?
Accidents happen for a number of reasons, which means there are several different ways to show that the other driver was responsible. Some of the most common causes of accidents are:
- Distracted Driving/Texting and Driving
- Fatigued Driving/Asleep at the Wheel
- Drunk Driving
- Mechanical Issues
Each type of accident has certain telltale signs that point to the responsible driver. For instance, drivers who fall asleep at the wheel generally don’t hit the brakes before the collision, and they often have no memory of the accident. Texting drivers are more likely to be involved in rear-end collisions, as they aren’t paying attention to the vehicles in front of them. Drunk drivers tend to cause accidents late at night or early in the morning, and they often swerve, veer into oncoming traffic and fail to obey traffic laws – all visibly erratic movements that a witness will remember.
Proving that the other driver was at fault often requires a fairly extensive investigation to collect evidence such as pictures of the accident scene and witness reports. Because evidence can disappear quickly after an accident, it’s important to contact our attorneys and get that investigation started as soon as possible.
How much compensation can I collect?
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was another driver’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including past and future medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity and pain and suffering. In addition, you can collect compensation for any property damage, such as repairs to your vehicle. Finally, you may be compensated for other costs directly attributable to the accident, such as towing, storage and a rental while your car is being fixed or replaced.
Many motorists end up settling for less compensation than they should because they don’t know just how many expenses can be included in a claim. Insurance companies take full advantage of this by offering “lowball” amounts soon after the accident, before the victim has had time to research options or contact an attorney.
I’m a little banged up, but nothing serious. Do I really need to see a doctor?
Absolutely. If you have any reason to think you might be injured – or even if you’re feeling fine – you should see a doctor right away. Accidents often cause internal injuries that take time to become fully apparent, and seeing a doctor right away will get you the treatment you need to protect your health. Moreover, if you wait to see a doctor, an insurance company may try to argue that any injuries you suffered happened after the accident, rather than during the accident itself, or that you’re partially liable for treatment due to your delay in seeking medical attention.
I was in an accident involving an out-of-state driver. Can you help me?
We handle accidents involving out-of-state drivers often because of our region’s geography. Interstate 95, which runs through Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is the most heavily traveled highway in the interstate system. Many out-of-state drivers, from Maine to Florida and elsewhere across the country, use I-95, the New Jersey Turnpike and other highways in our region every day. They share the roadway with commuter residents from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Our legal team has extensive experience working with out-of-state drivers and those injured by out-of-state drivers. Whether you are an out-of-state driver who was severely injured, or have been injured or sustained property damage due to the negligence of an out-of-state driver, our firm can work relentlessly to protect your interests. If you are not getting the answers you need from the insurance companies, we can handle them for you.
I was injured as a passenger. What are my rights?
Passengers in an auto accident are considered free of liability for the collision, unless they blatantly distracted the driver. If you were a passenger and sustained an auto accident injury, you may have a claim against all at-fault parties, including the operators of any of the cars involved in the accident. However, if you get into a car knowing that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may have “assumed the risk” of being in an accident.
As such, many passenger injury cases are far from open and shut. Even if you are clearly free of liability, there may be multiple insurance companies involved, and accepting a settlement from one insurer may affect another company’s liability. You will need our help to explore all possible avenues of compensation and get the maximum damages allowed by law.
Should I answer questions from the other driver’s insurance company?
Remember, insurance companies – even your own insurer, and certainly another motorist’s –aren’t on your side. Their priority is to reduce their own liability and pay out as little as possible. As such, any information they collect from you, particularly medical information as well as anything pertaining to fault for the accident, is likely to be used against you. Instead of answering those questions yourself, you should retain us, then tell them to speak with your attorney.
If an insurance company offers me a check right away, should I take it?
Again, the insurance company’s goal is to pay out as little as possible. While it’s tempting to take the money, your best bet is to wait until you’ve completed your medical treatment so that you know how many expenses can be included in your claim. Then, consult with an attorney from our firm who can fight for all of the compensation you’re owed. That initial offer is usually much less than the insurance company is willing to pay to settle the claim before it goes to trial.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey require all drivers to have insurance, but many drivers ignore those laws and put others at risk. Of course, an uninsured driver who causes an accident is still liable for any injuries or property damage, and in theory, you should be able to recover damages from the other driver’s assets. In practice, drivers who don’t have insurance also often don’t have assets to recover. Plus, even if the other driver does have insurance, the amount of coverage may not be enough to pay your entire claim.
If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be entitled to compensation from your own insurance company if the other driver’s insurance isn’t enough to pay your whole claim. Depending on the circumstances, the other driver might also have coverage through a family member or employer.
However, legal cases involving uninsured and underinsured drivers are complex, with multiple insurance companies getting involved. Because accepting a settlement from one insurer might affect another insurer’s liability, your best option is to consult us before accepting any settlement offer.
Learn more about what to do if you were hit by an uninsured driver.
Contact Flager & Associates, PC
Located in Bensalem (across from the Neshaminy Mall), with offices in Philadelphia and New Hope, our law firm proudly serves injury victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
One Northbrook Corporate Center
1210 Northbrook Drive
Feasterville-Trevose, PA 19053
Phone: (215) 953-5200
Fax: (215) 953-5214
1500 JFK Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102