Car accidents are relatively simple unless we’re talking about the most minor of fender benders. That said, there are some cases where fault is clearly established and others where it’s clearly not. Let’s say you’re in a car and a pickup truck driver behind is following at an uncomfortable distance. Then a person runs out into the road right in front of you and you have to slam on the brakes. If the car behind you then crashes into you, that driver is pretty clearly at fault because he should have left more space between the two vehicles. But there are other cases that involve five or six cars and chain reactions and contradictory witness statements. Those can get messy in a hurry. If you find yourself involved in such an accident, the next few weeks or even months can be stressful, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
Insurance company issues
Almost every state in the union requires you to have automobile insurance (Virginia and New Hampshire are the outliers). There are also typically reporting requirements for accidents that meet a certain threshold. In some cases, all accidents must be reported to the police. In other cases, they only have to be reported if there’s a certain amount of damage to a vehicle or vehicles. But before you call your insurance company, call 911. If you aren’t sure if it’s an emergency, call the non-emergency line, but unless the car accident is incredibly minor, it’s important to at least try and get a police officer or officers to come out and make a report. You may also need medical treatment, even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt. Making a report to police and your insurance company starts a critical trail of documentation, and that usually makes things easier for everyone. Be very wary of people who ask you not to report it to their insurance company and offer to pay you cash for the cost of repairing your vehicle. That’s almost always more trouble than it’s worth. If you’re involved in a crash with an 18-wheeler or another company vehicle, then the other driver is almost certainly covered under a commercial insurer like American Insurance Brokers. It may sound cold, but if the other driver gets fired or has to pay higher insurance rates as a result of the accident, that’s not really your problem.
When to bring in a lawyer
In a perfect world, your insurance company will work with the other insurance company (or companies) to make sure everything is investigated properly and all claims are paid out accordingly. In the real world, that doesn’t always happen. Your insurance company could claim the other driver is at fault, a claim the other party’s insurance may refuse to accept. Or your insurance company may give you what feels like an insulting offer for your totaled vehicle. There are all sorts of ways for things to go sideways. According to the team at Corbridge Law Offices in Oregon, accident victims are often unaware of their rights. That means you might unwittingly sign away those rights because you don’t understand the form or forms that are in front of you. If you’re uncertain, look into getting a free consultation with a local attorney who specializes in automobile accidents. They can take care of the red tape while you focus on healing.