Auto accidents are unfortunate circumstances. They can happen to anyone, no matter how safe you are on the road. When an accident occurs, more than your health is at stake. You need to assess your injuries and do many things to ensure your recovery. Defending against persons claiming that you caused an accident can involve many factors.
- Notify your insurance company immediately.
If you have insurance, contact the company and file a claim. Failing to do so may give the insurance company certain rights to either refuse to defend you or to not pay a judgment if you lose, which they otherwise would have had to pay.
- Notify the State Motor Vehicle Agency.
You will likely have to immediately notify the appropriate State Motor Vehicle Agency. What you say to both the insurance company and the Motor Vehicle agency [which usually requires a written notice] may hurt you or help you later on if you are sued. In any accident, you should always consult your Plan Attorney immediately.
- Visit an Emergency Room for injuries
You should determine if anyone was injured, or if anyone is likely to claim at a later date that they were injured. You must make this decision early, and if you think there is even a hint that a passenger or the driver of the other car, or a passenger in your car might make a claim for injuries against you, you better give serious thought to allowing your insurance company to defend the lawsuit, or contacting your Plan Attorney for a free initial consultation.
Visit an Emergency Room for any injuries or pain and follow up with any subsequent appointments with your regular doctor, or any specialists that you may need. Delaying any medical care may adversely affect healing and may allow insurance companies to reduce your compensation. Make sure to document all injuries.
- Reconstruct the accident and/or visit the scene for clues
Assisting yourself in a possible defense of a car accident starts long before you are served with a lawsuit. Almost immediately, adjustors or witnesses or the plaintiff him/herself will call you and try to obtain damaging statements from you. Before anything, you should reconstruct the accident and/or visit the scene for clues as to how it happened.
Preserve any evidence such as cracked headlights or bumpers, deployed airbags, etc. Take pictures at the scene. Be sure to draft a diagram of the scene. Make sure to write down statements said by certain persons such as "it was X's fault" or "I didn't see the light" or similar such statements. And of course, have available witnesses to support your arguments.
- Assess the fault in the accident. Are there contributing factors and how will you prove them?
Were there any witnesses? If so, did they see the critical elements? Often witnesses cannot definitively state that they saw the color of a red light. Look for these things that will support your case. Get statements from these witnesses if they will help you. You may not want to write down a statement of a witness who might hurt you, but you may certainly want to talk to them and understand their story. What they say will help you prove that they may have been mistaken also.
Consulting with your plan attorney is a good first step to make sure that your rights are protected and you can better build you case against a plaintiff.
Remember, the ones suing are responsible for proving that you were negligent.