You may feel stressed, overwhelmed, and uncertain if you’ve recently been involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania. It’s not uncommon to be unsure of what to do — or where to even begin — and you may be wary of making a mistake that could impact your future claim for compensation.
Fortunately, there are clear steps you can take to protect your rights and strengthen your future claim. Following through with these tasks can save you from many potential headaches and roadblocks on the path toward financial recovery.
The following are some of the most critical tasks to complete following an auto accident. Use these steps as a guide to get yourself on the path to justice and compensation for your collision. And when you’re ready, make sure to speak with an experienced car accident attorney after your collision.
An accident lawyer can be your ally, helping you navigate the challenges of your claim and providing the most qualified guidance and support throughout the process.
Immediately after an accident, stop your vehicle and assess the situation. Failing to stop after an accident is actually against the law.
Be careful when moving, in case you’ve sustained any injuries. Check on the well-being of any passengers in your vehicle. If you’re able, get out of your car and review the property damage. Take photos of everything, including your vehicle, the other vehicle, and all damage to both cars and other property in the vicinity.
Exchange information with the other driver. Get their name, contact information, and insurance details. Take photos of their driver’s license and insurance card if they allow you to do so.
Contact the police if necessary. You are not legally required to call the police after every traffic incident. Instead, Pennsylvania law specifies that you must report an accident if there is injury or death, or damage prevents the vehicles from driving away.
Regardless, it’s recommended that you contact law enforcement to get an accident report, as police reports can substantially help with your claim, especially when it comes to establishing liability.
Many vehicular accidents happen in the middle of the road, impeding the flow of traffic. Therefore, if possible, move your vehicle to a safe location on the side of the road.
It’s important to note that, if it is safe to do so, you should avoid moving the vehicle immediately after your crash. Instead, put on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. By moving your vehicle right away, you miss the opportunity to get photos and videos of the cars and the scene, which could serve as critical evidence.
Once you’ve assessed the scene and taken photos and videos, vehicles can be moved to avoid further obstructing traffic.
Depending on the details of your road mishap, you may need to file an accident report.
It’s worth noting that you are only responsible for filing an accident report if your accident was not investigated by a police agency. This means that if you contacted law enforcement, and they responded to the scene of your accident, further action is not necessary.
You have five days after an accident to fill out a Driver’s Accident Report and file it with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Make sure to provide accurate and detailed information.
If you’re in an auto collision, regardless of whose fault it is, you must still contact your insurance company. While there is no specific time in which you must contact your insurer, most insurance companies expect their insured to contact them within a “reasonable time” after an accident.
When you contact your insurance company, a representative will gather information regarding your collision. They’ll ask pertinent questions and allow you to share details, including how the collision happened and what damage your vehicle sustained. The representative may also provide some instructions. If they do, make sure to follow them.
Once they get the information they need, they’ll assign an insurance adjuster to your claim. The adjuster is your point of contact from there on out. They are in charge of investigating your accident and determining the value of your claim.
Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” state. This means that, regardless of who is at fault for a collision, you can file a claim under your own insurance and collect any compensation you’re entitled to receive through your insurer. Your insurer can then seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company if necessary.
This differs from fault states, where a driver can file a third-party collision claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation. Contacting your insurance company soon after an accident allows you to file your claim in a timely manner and get the compensation process started.
Seeking medical attention after a vehicle crash is one of the most important things you can do. Not only can it help ensure you put your health first, but it can also have an impact on your claim.
The medical care you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries. For example, if you’ve sustained serious injuries, you’ll likely receive treatment from EMTs at the scene of the accident. If more extensive medical attention is necessary, you’ll likely be transported to a nearby hospital.
While severe car accident injuries occur frequently, it doesn’t mean injuries are always obvious. Because of the way the body naturally reacts to stressful or traumatic events, you may not feel anything immediately after a collision. This is one of the main reasons to seek medical attention from a qualified physician as quickly as you can.
When you receive care, your medical records will reflect the extent of your injuries and the details of your treatment plan. All of this information is crucial when seeking compensation for injuries and related losses.
You should also keep your own record of your injuries, treatment, and expenses. Make your insurance company aware of any injuries you sustained, and provide helpful information for your claim.
Insurance companies conduct investigations to reveal answers regarding your collision. Based on their findings, they’ll determine how much your accident claim is worth and attempt to settle with you.
The main point of filing a collision claim is to receive fair compensation for your accident-related injuries and losses. Therefore, you want to ensure you’re settling for the right amount to accurately cover the extent of your financial burdens.
Although you likely want to settle as quickly as possible, sometimes the settlement process takes some time. You may need to engage in settlement negotiations, which involves going back and forth with the insurance company until you’ve agreed on a favorable number.
Reaching an agreement with the insurance company can be challenging. If you’re encountering issues getting the monetary recovery you deserve, it’s best to seek the help of a qualified car accident attorney.
Sometimes, based on the specifics of your accident, law enforcement officers may assess a citation. Just because you get a ticket doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay it. You can attempt to contest your ticket to avoid the consequences.
If you’ve received a ticket and want to fight it, start gathering evidence as early as possible to support your case. Strong evidence depends on the circumstances but could include surveillance footage and witness statements.
Fighting a ticket usually entails requesting a formal hearing and attending your court date. During your hearing, you’ll have the opportunity to present your case and all of your evidence. Keep in mind that you can hire an attorney to represent you on your behalf.
After a car collision, you may feel stressed and unsure of what to do. Following these steps can help get you closer to obtaining the financial recovery you need and deserve for your accident and related losses.
Knowing what not to do is almost as important as knowing what you should do. Speaking with the other driver’s insurance company, accepting the first settlement offer, and failing to seek medical care are just some of the things you should avoid doing.
Fortunately, when you have a car accident lawyer, you don’t have to worry about feeling overwhelmed or knowing what actions not to take. Accident attorneys have the experience, skills, and resources needed to handle your claim promptly and appropriately to help ensure you reach the most favorable outcome.
When you need legal assistance after a traffic accident in Pennsylvania, the attorneys at McCormick and Vilushis are ready to help you. Our award-winning lawyers are dedicated to making our clients’ lives easier and fighting for justice on their behalf.
We understand the frustration and pressure you feel after an accident. That is why we aim to ease your worries and help you feel confident about the future of your claim. Our legal team never backs down from a challenge — we’re not afraid of taking your claim to the courtroom. Contact our firm to schedule your consultation today.
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