Being involved in a car accident can be a frightening and stressful experience, especially when the collision was not your fault. If you were recently in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence in Ohio, you likely have many questions about what to do next.
This article will offer an overview of the essential steps to follow after a car accident that is not your fault, enabling you to safeguard your rights and seek compensation for your damages.
Understanding a Car Accident: What Does It Mean to Be At-Fault?
A ‘car accident’ refers to a collision involving at least one motor vehicle, resulting in damage, injury, or loss. The term ‘at-fault’ denotes the party who is legally responsible for the accident. Determining who is ‘at fault’ is critical as it impacts the insurance claims and potential legal actions that may follow.
In many car accidents, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for compensating the accident victims. However, The details may differ based on the governing laws in a particular region and the unique factors surrounding the incident. For instance, an Ohio car accident may be handled differently than one in a state with different insurance requirements.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Call The Police And Report The Accident
The first thing you should do after a car accident is call the police so that a report can be filed. Even if the accident seems minor, having a police report is crucial for insurance claims and establishing fault later on. Provide the officers with your contact information, driver’s license, and insurance information, as well as your account of what happened. Be sure to get the names and badge numbers of all officers who respond.
Police will interview the drivers and witnesses involved and make a report of their findings. Be sure to get a copy of the police report for your records. Having an official report detailing the accident can help support your version of events when negotiating with insurance companies later.
Seek Medical Attention If Needed
If anyone in your vehicle or the other vehicle has serious injuries, even if seemingly minor injuries, be sure to get medical attention right away. Adrenaline can mask pain immediately after an accident, and some injuries don’t show symptoms until hours or days later. Getting checked over by a doctor will document any injuries related to the accident. Keep records of all medical treatment, including bills and receipts. This will help if you need to file a personal injury claim later.
Document the Accident Scene
While waiting for the police, take photos of the accident scene from different angles, showing the vehicle damage, debris, skid marks, weather conditions, road signs, intersection layout, etc. Capture close-ups of the damage to both vehicles, too. If you or your passengers suffered any visible injuries, photograph those as well.
Thorough photo documentation provides solid evidence of how the crash occurred and who was likely at fault. If there were any witnesses at the scene, it’s advisable to request their contact information so that your personal injury attorney can conduct interviews with them at a later time.
Exchange Insurance Information
Get the at-fault driver’s name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate, make/model of their vehicle, and insurance details. You have a legal right to this information under Ohio law. Share your contact and insurance information as well.
Having all insurance details allows you to file a claim promptly to start getting your losses covered. If the at-fault motorist refuses to provide their information, make sure the responding officer obtains it.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Alert your insurance company about the accident as soon as you can. Provide details on how the crash happened, the property damage and injuries sustained, and the other parties involved. This puts your insurer on notice you will be filing a claim.
If you have collision coverage, your insurer will reimburse you for vehicle repairs or total loss. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, your policy will pay for injuries when the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance.
Consult an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Contact a skilled car accident lawyer immediately after seeking medical treatment. An attorney can conduct a thorough investigation while the evidence is still fresh. They can take detailed witness statements, obtain and review crash reports, photograph and video surveillance, and consult accident reconstruction and medical experts.
An attorney can also interact with insurance companies on your behalf so you don’t get taken advantage of. Never speak to the at-fault driver’s insurer without guidance from your lawyer. Insurance companies are motivated to pay as little as possible for claims. Having a knowledgeable attorney protects your rights.
Damages You Can Claim After a Car Accident
If you are not at fault for an accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for a variety of losses, such as:
- Medical expenses – All costs for hospitalization, surgery, medication, devices, rehabilitation, and future care relating to crash injuries.
- Lost income – Any wages lost due to being unable to work during recovery.
- Reduced earning capacity – Impaired ability to earn income in the future due to disabilities from your injuries.
- Property damage – Repairs or replacement cost if your vehicle or personal property was damaged.
- Pain and suffering – Compensation for any physical and emotional pain caused by your injuries.
- Loss of enjoyment of life – Impacts on hobbies, interests, relationships, and your overall well-being and lifestyle.
Why You Need an Attorney for a Car Accident Claim
Seeking compensation after a car accident can be exceedingly difficult, especially when you are not at fault for the incident. Insurance companies have teams of adjusters and lawyers who profit by minimizing claim payouts. They have no incentive to pay you fairly or promptly unless you have aggressive legal advocates on your side.
Having a skilled car accident attorney levels the playing field. Your lawyer has the litigation experience and resources to build leverage and force insurers to pay maximum damages. Without proper legal representation, you risk getting lowballed with inadequate settlement offers that don’t come close to covering your losses. Don’t let unscrupulous insurance companies take advantage of you after an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Let An Attorney Help After Your Ohio Car Accident
The dedicated car accident attorneys at The Jones Firm in Ohio have helped injury victims recover millions of dollars over many years of practice. They have extensive knowledge of Ohio insurance laws and proven negotiation tactics to get you the maximum compensation you deserve. Their firm works on a contingency fee basis – you pay no fees whatsoever unless they obtain financial recovery for you.
Don’t leave your future to chance by trying to handle your car accident claim alone. Contact them for a free consultation and case evaluation.