4 Legal Steps You Should Take After a Car Accident

If you have a car accident you are likely to be shaken up physically and emotionally. You might even be actually hurt. You will not be thinking right either. Here are a few steps you should follow after you’ve been in a car accident. First of all, you have to stop if your vehicle is involved in an accident and you don’t, you may be subject to criminal prosecution.

1. Don’t move

If anyone, including you is injured or if the damage is great you have to call the local police. Do not move or let anyone who is injured be moved until emergency helps arrives. If the damage is minor you should exchange information with the other driver and then report it to the police within 24 hours. As soon as possible after the accident you should call your insurance company to report any damage to your person or vehicle.

2. Find legal help

Then, you should consider talking to a car accident lawyer. If the accident was your fault, you might be subject to legal or financial claims against you. If the accident was not your fault or if you suffered an injury, you may be entitled to file one. If the police want to interview you, you should certainly have legal representation. A car accident lawyer can help you in a number of ways. If you are the one pursuing a claim, here are some of the steps they may follow to assure you receive justice

Most car accident lawyers offer a free consultation and assessment. They will ask you questions and answer yours. Then, you can decide whether you want to, or feel you need to hire a lawyer. If you are going to hire one, it’s best to engage them before you file any claims with your insurance company to protect your legal rights. The lawyer will then contact the insurance company on your behalf and begin the investigation. This includes a gathering of all relevant facts and witness statements as well as a medical evaluation of you have been injured. This is a very important step because it starts laying out the parameters of any claim you may have against the insurance company. They might also suggest that you see your family doctor and any specialists that they recommend.

3. Trying to find a deal

Once your lawyer has determined that you have a legitimate claim there is often a process of mandatory mediation that all parties have to go through in order to pursue a claim. The intention is to try and help the parties resolve cases without having to go to court. In mediation, your lawyer will prepare a brief that outlines your injuries and entitlements. Then discussions are held, usually by teleconference between the parties, and you are invited to be part of this call. If a settlement is proposed from mediation you will get a letter asking you to relinquish all future claims against the car accident insurance company after they pay you the settlement. If a settlement is not reached, the mediator will produce a mediator’s report stating that the mediation has been conducted and no resolution has been reached.

4. Going to court

Once the mandatory mediation fails your car accident lawyer will help you decide whether to file a law suit or to take the matter to arbitration. The next step is called examination for discovery and this is a normal part of the pre-trial discussions in a car accident case. This is where each side figures out how strong each other’s case may be and whether a settlement might still be possible. If a settlement is reached then the case is over. If not, it goes on to trial and your car accident lawyer will advise and guide you through that process.

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