Right after a car accident, it may be impossible to know whether you or one of the others drivers will file a lawsuit. Fortunately, you don’t need to be able to see the future to know what you need to do, just in case.
And because you can’t go back in time to the accident, you need to know how to prepare for a legal claim before a car accident happens. There are three important timeframes to keep in mind, from the accident to filing your case, and three ways to prepare for a car accident claim:
1. Immediately After the Accident
First things first: make sure everyone involved in the accident is OK or receiving proper medical attention. Then contact the police and your insurance company to report the accident. The steps you take after an accident are crucial. Failing to report an accident can be a crime, and you’ll want an official accident report later for evidence. And some insurance companies could refuse to cover damage and injury claims if the accident isn’t reported promptly.
2. Evidence Gathering Period
This process can start right after the accident and extend months. There are important things you should do at the scene of the accident:
- Document the Accident: To the best of your ability, document what happened with pictures, notes, and conversations with witnesses;
- Cooperate With Investigations: Answer questions from law enforcement and your insurance company and fill in gaps where you can; but
- Don’t Admit Fault: Save any apologies or admissions of guilt or fault — liability for the accident will be figured out later.
3. Litigation Period
The most important step in preparing a car accident claim might be to have a lawyer prepare it for you. Even if it seems like an easy fender bender, there may be legal implications only an expert would notice. And for more complicated crashes, you’ll need a lawyer with experience and expertise with car accident claims.
If you’ve been in a car accident and are thinking about filing a lawsuit, you should talk to an experienced personal injury attorney near you.
- Injured in a car accident? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury)
- 5 Things a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do (That You Probably Can’t) (FindLaw’s Injured)
- 7 Tips to Prepare for Your Injury Lawsuit (FindLaw’s Injured)
- Car Accident Lawsuit Timeline (FindLaw’s Injured)