There are more than 6 million car accidents per year on the roads across our country. Massachusetts, Main, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Ohio, Nebraska, Utah, and Oregon top the list of states with the most accidents per capita. At the bottom of that list, on the other hand, is Michigan.
Whether the accident you are in results in injury or not, just the act of being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience for anyone. Knowing where to turn for help — be it medical or for damage control — however, can make the aftermath of an accident a little easier to deal with.
This guide to various services you may require after a car accident can help you take care of yourself and move forward.
Important Legal Services
When you are in a car accident, there is are several reasons why you may need to hire an attorney. Automobile accident attorneys or a personal injury attorney can help you:
- Navigate and explain the often confusing and chaotic regulations and laws surrounding car accident liability and claims.
- Handle any insurance claims and work with the insurance company, so you don’t have to. This includes negotiating with the insurance company for any compensation for any lost wages due to the accident.
- Prove the accident’s fault and liability for any injuries you may have sustained during an injury. Your attorney will also help you determine the value of those injuries, as well as the value of any damage done to your vehicle.
- Defending claims or lawsuits that are filed against you if the car accident is your fault.
- Negotiate a fair settlement in the instance of a claim so that all the bills and loss of income related to the accident are covered.
- File a lawsuit with a personal injury attorney if necessary.
In the event of an extreme car accident, where you are catastrophically injured, you will need to retain the services of a catastrophic injury attorney. These catastrophic injuries include:
- Physical injuries: Amputation, burns, fractures, and damage to orthopedic function or tissue.
- Spinal cord injuries: Injuries affecting the spinal cord that create permanent mobility issues.
- Cognitive injuries: Injuries that result from brain damage and take away the victim’s ability to work, speak or form memories.
These attorneys will help you pursue a claim and compensation for the wrongful and life-altering harm that has been done to you.
Necessary Auto Collision Repair Services
Even when a car accident results in no injury to a passenger, the chances of your car getting away with no damage is small. Whether it’s a scratch, a dent, or broken window, or even more extreme damage, when you’re in a car accident, you will need the help of a reliable body shop. According to Consumer Reports, when looking for an auto repair shop, you should consider:
- The kinds of cars the shop services. Not all mechanics and body shops service all kinds of cars, especially if your vehicle is rare or vintage. Finding one that specializes in your type of car means those on staff will likely be up-to-date on the latest technology or techniques for your car.
- What those around you recommend. As in all things, one of the best ways to find a good auto repair shop is to seek suggestions from your friends and family.
- Whether or not they have the right certifications. The body shop you select should be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
- What the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has to say. Auto repair shops often are some of the most regularly complained about businesses to the BBB. Before you commit to a mechanic, it could help to check what this resource has to say.
When selecting a repair shop, keep in mind that your insurance company cannot dictate where you take your car after an accident. If they do recommend a shop, however, it may be worth considering. Insurance-recommend auto shops have often been screened and used successfully by your fellow local insurance holders in the past.
Finally, before you pull the trigger on starting any repair work after a car accident, be sure to get an estimate. While this is typically standard operating procedure, it helps to keep that in mind. If you would like, you can get more than one estimate, but there is no need to get three, four, or five, nor is it typically a requirement of your insurance.
In some instances, you may need to look for specialty services when moving forward with auto repair, including 24 hour towing service, specialty paint shops, or auto tire services. This will especially be important if you had custom work done to your vehicle before the accident happened.
How to Get the Proper Insurance Assistance
When you are in a car accident, an attorney can typically help with navigating any legal problems and dealing with your insurance company. But, you must have a basic understanding of your auto insurance policy and of how to deal with the insurance company on your own.
First, you need to understand when to contact your insurance company. If your car was damaged in an accident, but there are no injuries, follow these guidelines:
- If your vehicle was damaged by the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault, you will need to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company under that driver’s liability policy.
- If the vehicle was your fault, you will file a claim with your own insurance company under your collision policy.
- If the fault of the accident is unclear or shared, file a claim with both your insurer and the other driver’s insurance company, and when a fault is determined, coverage will be determined.
- If you were in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you will file a claim with your insurer.
- If you were injured in a car accident, follow these guidelines when sorting out insurance:
- If the other driver is at fault, file a claim with their insurance agency under their liability policy.
- If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, your insurance company will be responsible if you have elected to have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.
If you live in a no-fault state, you will need to file under your own insurance company with personal injury protection (PIP) or MedPay insurance. If you have received catastrophic injuries, you will need to pursue a lawsuit to help pay for those injuries and future loss of income or care.
With a basic understanding of which insurance company to contact in when the next most important piece of information will be understanding how to actually file a claim. Those steps include:
- File a police report. Not only is this required by law — and an important part of ensuring the safety of anyone involved — a copy of the report will be required by the insurance agency as well.
- Contact your insurance company. Hopefully, you have an agent that you typically work with who can help you with the process. When you contact your company, they will want some specific information, including the covered vehicle that was involved, the name of the individual driving, the location and time of the accident, an overview of how the accident occurred, and the damage or injuries. The company will also need the names of the other parties involved, as well as their insurance information.
- Work with the insurance adjuster. When an adjuster is assigned to your claim, they will get in touch with you for more information about the accident, including any photographs you may have taken at the scene. They will also want to inspect the damage down to your vehicle in person if at all possible. They will use this information to evaluate the facts and approve your claim and provide the initial payment.
If your insurance claim is denied after an accident, you should speak with your insurance company as soon as possible to find out what went wrong with your specific claim and what you need to do to fix it.
Receiving the Medical Treatment You Need
Approximately 4.4 million people involved in car crashes each year are injured seriously enough to require medical attention. Of those injuries, more than 2 million are permanent. These injuries can range from whiplash to broken limbs to spinal cord injuries that leave you unable to work, work or live a normal life.
If you are experiencing any sort of injury or pain following a car accident, you will need to seek medical treatment immediately. This information will be important to the insurance company that you are filing a claim with, especially if you are seeking compensation to cover any medical bills that may come your way.
Also, if you end up filing a lawsuit for catastrophic injury, you will need to have these medical records on hand so you can get the compensation you need to cover any loss of work or even future care that you may require.
Finally, keep in mind that all of your potential injuries may not be apparent right away after an accident. That means many victims will need ongoing or additional medical or rehabilitation services to help them regain their health, wellness, and normal life. This can often mean navigating the ins and outs of your healthcare insurance, whether it be through work, Medicare insurance, or Medicaid insurance.
If you are trying to choose medical help after a car accident, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Seek out a specialist: Your primary care physician will not always be trained to identify or deal with some of the medical conditions that result from a car accident. If your injury will potentially have lasting effects, you may also need to seek out a rehabilitation service for ongoing treatment. This can include a physical therapist, a chiropractor, an occupational therapist, or even a mental health counselor.
Provide your care provider with the information you need: Your doctor will need to know how the accident happened, the symptoms you are experiencing and their severity, and a full medical history.
Ask questions: When it comes down to your health and wellness, there are not too many questions you can ask, so unleash any question that may come to mind. The more assured you feel the care you are receiving the better your treatment will be.
Don’t forget to take care of your mental health: Taking care of your mental health after a car accident is just as important as your physical health. These accidents can often result in post-traumatic stress disorder and a trained professional can help you deal with those feeling and get your back on the road or in a car safely again.
If you are a Medicare or Medicaid patient, you may be wondering if you should use this insurance following a car accident. If you have another insurance provider and Medicare is secondary, you nor your medical provider should file a claim through Medicare.
Medicaid generally will pay for medical care upfront and then seek reimbursement through subrogation. You have a legal obligation to reimburse them for any money recovered.
If you do not have insurance, but still need medical attention following an accident, your attorney can provide your caretakers with a letter of protection (LOP) if they accept them. This letter promises that your medical bills will be paid out of any settlement or judgment obtained. If no recovery is made, however, the person receiving the treatment is still responsible for the bills. Keep in mind that LOPs do not relieve you of the debt just because you do not make a recovery in the case.