Getting injured in a car accident can be a frightening and stressful experience. However, when you are involved in an accident there are some important steps to remember; here are the best tips from our New Hampshire accident lawyer. The following seven points will help you protect yourself and your interests after a crash.
Preserve the Scene and Ensure Safety
The first thing to do is assess the situation and make sure you are safe. You can prevent further accidents by setting up flares, or keeping your flashers on. Additionally, you should never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one. Avoid confrontation with other persons involved in the accident.
Call the Police
It is also best to call the police and cooperate with the responding officer. The police will be better able to handle the situation and coordinate any medical treatment or other services. The police will also help the parties exchange information. Additionally, the police can help you comply with the law that requires you to report certain accidents to the State. NH RSA 264:25, Conduct After Accident.
In New Hampshire, in any accident with damages over $1000 or with a personal injury the parties must file an accident report with the State within a certain period of time. Not doing so may result in criminal penalties. If you call the police then they should be responsible for creating an accident report or at least advising you on how to proceed. Although a car accident attorney should not be needed at the scene, if you feel like you may be at fault, or that the police are building a case against you (for DUI/OUI/DWI or otherwise), call a lawyer for your accident immediately.
Create a Record of Events
When the police arrive, make sure you tell the responding officer specifically how the accident occurred, to the best of your ability. That also means if you are unsure or do not know of certain facts then explain that to the officer. It is important that you do not speculate as to any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Bear in mind that many injuries may not be apparent for a day or two. If you are injured, seek medical attention immediately. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, do not admit fault to the police officer. You have no way of knowing if the other driver was drunk, or TXTing on their phone, but once it is in the police report, “you are at fault” it may become very difficult to achieve justice. Report the facts, say what you don’t know, obtain medical help, and call a lawyer for assistance in investigating the crash.
Exchange Information and Take Photos
If you are able, it will be helpful to get the names, addresses, and phone/email of any witnesses to the accident. Additionally, if possible, ask a friend or family member to take photos of your injuries, your vehicle, and the scene of the accident. If your injury subsequently becomes worse or changes in appearance, be sure to photograph and document the changes. It is advisable to maintain a journal or notes to chronicle your pain.
Notify Your Insurance Company and Use Med-pay
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Many policies require immediate reporting and full cooperation. Reporting the accident to your carrier is also important if you are going to use your med-pay benefits. Med-pay coverage should be primary for accident-related medical bills. Once med-pay benefits are exhausted, private health insurance becomes your primary insurer.
New Hampshire law requires med-pay of at least $1,000 be offered with every New Hampshire automobile policy. A PDF booklet with some general information on auto-insurance is available from the State of New Hampshire here.
Med-pay is important because you will not need to reimburse the auto insurance carrier. New Hampshire law prohibits subrogation for medical payments coverage under your own automobile insurance. On the other hand, once you settle your claim your health insurance carrier usually has a right of subrogation which allows them to receive reimbursement for medical bills it paid.
Keep all your car accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claims adjuster who is handling the case, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred or bills resulting from the crash, and your notes immediately following the accident.
Protect Your Rights – Hire an Attorney to Help
Lastly, be cautious when dealing with insurance adjusters. Insurance companies are usually looking to settle quickly or to box you into statements early on in the claims process. Saying the wrong thing could deny you fair compensation later. While this may not always be the case, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney regarding your situation and help you decide the best course of action. Our initial consultation is always free, so you have nothing to lose by talking with a car accident lawyer, but thousands to lose by talking to them.
What’s it all cost?
We can and will fight for you at no up-front cost or expense to you- and we don’t get paid unless we win. Even if you think you have already said or done something wrong, talk to us, your consultation is privileged and confidential and we may be able to fix the problem.
Cases are typically handled on a 1/3 contingent fee. But in most cases, we estimate that the amount by which we increase the value of settlement more than makes up for the 1/3 fee. For example, if you could have settled your case for $2,500 on your own; and we end up settling for $7,500, even after the 1/3 fee is deducted you are still coming out ahead by $2,500- not only did you benefit from having a lawyer, but you doubled your money, putting $5,000 in your pocket in the process. Of course, all cases are different and this is just an illustrative example.
Atty. Michael Reed has a passion for helping people achieve just compensation for their accident injuries. He brings the knowledge and fight you need to your side. Please call 603-622-8100 now for a free consultation. Or email Paralegal@AAONE.Law to schedule a meeting.