Auto accidents are not always easy to navigate.
Luckily, we’ve got an A-Z checklist of everything you can do to prevent auto accidents, the information you’re going to need if you are involved in a car accident, and the policies and procedures for filing claims in our state.
Read the below and you’ll know everything you need to know if you are ever in a car crash in North Carolina.
Apps – If your insurance provider has a mobile app, keep it on your phone. You will be able to quickly pull up your insurance information and the number of your provider after an accident.
Body Shop Numbers – Have them in your phone or car in case you get in an accident. Knowing the number of a body shop that you trust (rather than choosing the first one you see in a panic) means having one less thing to worry about after an accident.
Contact Information of the Drivers and Passengers Involved – This should be the first information you collect after a car accident occurs and you make sure everyone is okay.
Do NOT Admit Fault – It’s normal for drivers to apologize out of habit or guilt, but admitting you may have caused the accident can immediately kill any chance of your ability to sue for damages in court. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law — even if it’s just in the presence of other regular citizens.
Emergency Phone Numbers – Have them clearly labeled in your phone in case of an emergency. Check out different apps that will save emergency contact numbers and call them in case you are in an accident.
First Make Sure Everyone is Safe – Once you know everyone involved is okay, then you can continue with collecting and exchanging information.
Get On the Phone – With the police and your insurance company to report the accident as soon as possible, and with your lawyer to start building a case to protect yourself.
Hold Off On Taking the First Settlement Offer You Get – Talk to your lawyer through every step of the settlement process, and be patient while you get offers. You may still have more medical bills coming, and taking an offer too soon may not allow you to consider future expenses.
It Takes One Text to Cause an Accident – Distracted driving is causing more and more auto accidents. Put down the phone while driving, and watch out for other drivers who are using their phones.
Jail? If you are sued for causing a car accident, you will most likely not face jail time. However, if the accident involved the death of a passenger or other driver, you may be charged for vehicular manslaughter. In that case, it would be crucial to find and speak with a knowledgeable Greensboro criminal defense lawyer.
Keep a Record of Your Initial Injuries and Pains – This will help you calculate expenses and determine what injuries were a result of your auto accident. It may even help you to trace medical issues that don’t appear until later back to your car accident.
Location and Road Conditions – Record your exact location and the road conditions at the time of your accident. Was it raining? Were the roads slippery? How did visibility affect your drive? All of these factors should go into the accident report and can be used later in trial.
Monthly Check Up – Make sure you are continuously checking the tire pressure, oil, and general condition of your car. Caring for your car helps to prevent accidents and show that you are a good driver.
NEVER Drive under the Influence of Alcohol – Just don’t do it.
Only Talk to Other Insurance Companies through Your Attorney – Otherwise, you may accidentally say or agree to something that can damage your case.
Policy Numbers and Insurance Information are Vital – Without these pieces of information, your insurance company cannot negotiate a settlement out of court.
Questions – Write down any questions you have immediately after your accident and throughout the settlement process. You can ask insurance companies questions through your lawyer, and also ask your lawyer about what types of things can be considered expenses and how to make your claim go smoothly.
Reckless Driving – Know the signs of reckless driving. If the other driver was displaying these behaviors before your accident, you have more evidence to prove the other driver at fault.
Statute of Limitations – After you have been in a car accident, you only have a certain amount of time to file a claim or sue for damages. This amount of time is called the statute of limitations; in North Carolina, the statute of limitations is three years after a car accident.
Take Photos and Videos and Draw Diagrams – These will help to record the original damage done to each of the cars after the accident. Be as thorough as you can, and collect this evidence for your accident report.
Understand the Rules of Contributory Negligence – North Carolina’s laws about negligence and filing personal injury claims can quickly turn sour if you are found at fault for your accident. Read more about contributory negligence here.
Vehicle Safety Kit – Keep one in your car in case of an accident or incident on the road.
Witness Testimony – If you get into a car accident at an intersection and there are witnesses around, record what they saw. These testimonies can be added to your accident report and can also help you if your claim goes to trial later.
X-rays and Other Medical Care – This is a two-parter. First, you need to make sure you get yourself checked out by a doctor as soon as possible – even if you feel fine. Second, if you are filing a claim to cover your medical expenses, make sure you keep careful track of everything. From doctor’s appointments to medication to physical therapy, a list of medical expenses will help you determine how much you want to file a claim for.
Your Lawyer is Here to Help – Throughout each step of the process, your personal injury lawyer will be there to help you negotiate your claim, advise you on what expenses to include, and in general just walk you through the process and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
Zipcar, Car2Go, Uber, Lyft, Public Transportation… How are you getting to work while your car or your driving abilities are out of commission? Like medical expenses, consider financial and other related expenses like this when you are calculating how much to ask for when you file a claim.
So there you have it, the Auto Accident Alphabet. Make use of these tips and you’ll not only have an easier time of navigating any crash you may be involved in – with any luck you’ll be able to avoid that crash altogether!
About the Author:
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.