Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

First Thing to do After a Car Accident

We are often asked: What’s the first thing to do after getting in a car accident?  And, of course, we say call us – get a car accident lawyer.  But there are a number of other things to do urgently.  See below…

Car crashes are unexpected and stressful. Motor vehicle crashes cost more than $240 billion in lost wages and medical bills every year. Traffic accidents can destroy people’s lives physically, financially and emotionally. Hopefully, you and your loved ones will never be in a car accident. However, with over 10.8 million motor vehicle accidents each year in the United States, chances are that you will be involved in an accident at some point in your life. Many times, there are simple steps you can do protecting yourself in case there’s a lawsuit down the road. Here are some quick tips to help you protect your case after an auto accident:

  • Photograph Everything. Nowadays, everyone has a cellphone with a camera built in. Take pictures of the accident scene. Take pictures of the vehicles—both inside and outside. If you are injured, take daily pictures of you and your injuries. These images will help tell your story long after your body has healed.
  • Tell the Doctor About Every Injury. When you see a doctor, be sure to tell the doctor about every possible injury, even if it seems insignificant at the time. You don’t want to be in a situation where the insurance company won’t pay for your injuries because you didn’t mention it to the doctor right after your accident. For instance, there was a client who was in a car accident and slammed his knee against the dashboard, causing a substantial dent. When he saw the doctor, however, the client only complained about his back and neck. Because he was told to stay of his feet and was given heavy medication, the client didn’t notice how badly his knee hurt until a few weeks after the accident. It turned out the client had a torn meniscus but the insurance company refused to cover it. The insurance company tried to claim that the knee injury was not caused by the accident because the client had only complained of back and neck pain and not knee pain immediately after the accident.Fortunately, the client was able to prove that the knee injury was from the car accident because he had photographed the interior of his car after the crash, including the dent. If the client had simply mentioned that he had hit his knee to the doctor initially, the insurance would have most likely covered the injury and the client could have avoided the hassle of fighting a denied claim.
  • Don’t Listen to the Insurance Company. The insurance company will likely use any number of techniques in order to get you to settle your case quickly and for far less than you deserve.  Sign nothing.  Call us.  Don’t get taken advantage of.
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  • Get Good Car Insurance Coverage. Most people who are involved in auto accidents cannot afford to pay an expensive court settlement with their own money. In Maryland, we recommend that our clients protect themselves by having the following minimum automobile insurance coverage –
    • BODILY INJURY LIABILITY: $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident.Bodily injury liability covers physical injuries of others hurt in an accident for which you are responsible. The “per person” coverage is the cap the maximum amount the insurance company will pay per injured person, and the “per accident” cap is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for each accident. If you are responsible for a serious accident that puts someone in shock trauma, the medical bills could be tens of thousands of dollars. If the other driver’s medical bills and lost wages are $80,000, but you only have the minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage (which in Maryland is $30,000 per person / $60,000 per accident), then you would be responsible for paying the $50,000 difference! The possible offset costs in the event of an accident make the monthly fee for the coverage a good investment.
    • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist PROTECTION: $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident. Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection pays for the cost of injuries to a person and his or her family caused by drivers without car insurance or by a hit-and-run drivers Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will also kick in when someone else causes an accident but doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all of your costs. You never want to have less underinsured motorists coverage than you have bodily injury liability coverage. If you don’t have this coverage and are hit by an uninsured motorist, your only option is generally to sue the other driver in civil court or small claims court. However, most uninsured drivers don’t have car insurance because they can’t afford it, therefore, even if you win the case, it’s unlikely they will be able to pay for your medical bills.
    • Property Damage Liability: $50,000 minimum. Property damage liability is motor vehicle insurance that applies when you damage the property of others. It also protects you when you’re driving another person’s vehicle with the owner’s permission. While the damaged property is usually another car, the coverage also extends to buildings and to equipment such as street signs and telephone poles.
    • Comprehensive: Comprehensive physical damage coverage protects you if your vehicle is damaged in a non-accident situation (think rocks hitting your windshield while you’re driving on the highway). It may cover your vehicle against risks such as fire, theft, falling objects, vandalism, hail, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, and avalanches. You want to have the lowest deductible possible because insurance rates can’t go up when you file a claim for non-accident related damage that’s not your fault.
    • Collision: Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle when it’s involved in an accident. It allows you to collect money no matter who was at fault. You want to have a higher deductible because your rates can go up if you file a claim for damage that is your fault.
    • Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”): Minimum $5,000. This pays for medical bills and lost wages for any injury involving a car, e.g. if you sprain your ankle getting out of a truck. Never waive this coverage.