Last month I began telling you about some very important things that you need to do (and NOT do) immediately at the scene of the wreck. They were:
- Stay calm and breathe! If you have been injured, do not move – call 911 (if possible) and wait for EMS and then go to the hospital.
- Once all people involved in the wreck are accounted for and that situation is stable, have someone gather all of the information possible at the scene, including the names, addresses, phone numbers and license plate numbers of any and all witnesses and other drivers involved in the wreck, and take photographs of everything. Do not rely on law enforcement to do this for you.
- Do not move any vehicles until law enforcement arrives.
- Do not admit fault.
Once you leave the scene, there are still some other important things that you need to do.
First, file all of your medical bills with your health insurance company. Even if the wreck was caused by someone else, your medical bills are your responsibility.
Non-payment or late payment of those medical bills will hurt your credit and lead to late fees, etc. If the wreck was not your fault, you may eventually recover a settlement that includes reimbursement for your medical bills, but injury settlements take time, and it is important that you utilize all available health insurance to pay the bills as soon as possible.
Some health insurance companies are entitled to repayment from your eventual settlement, and some are not.
Second, if you are injured, do not speak to any automobile insurance company until you have spoken to an experienced, local injury attorney.
Insurance companies will be trying to take your statement as soon possible, and they will typically then try to use that statement against you later to deny the claim or to try to lowball you on your settlement.
A good injury attorney can make sure that you do everything necessary to make sure that you eventually obtain a complete settlement according to the law and can help you avoid making mistakes that can cost you money.
Third, if you were given a ticket, do not pay it off. Instead, speak to an experienced, local traffic attorney. Oftentimes an attorney can get your ticket reduced or dismissed and save you DMV points and possibly insurance premium increases.
Fourth, report the collision to your automobile insurance company – hopefully only after you have spoken to an attorney about your injuries or your ticket.
Here’s to hoping that you never need to use this advice!!