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What Do You Do After a Car Accident?

Car crash Imagine you are on your way to work. Maybe you’re on your way home from the store.

Suddenly, a truck blows through a stop sign and barrels into your car.

You’re surprised, then annoyed as you get out and realize your car is damaged. At first, you seem fine —your adrenaline is pumping now and you just want to exchange info with the driver at fault and get on with your day.

But after a few days that neck pain you tried to brush off just doesn’t go away. You miss some work. You see a doctor, and he tells you you’re going to need additional visits. Maybe you’ll need physical therapy and time off work to heal.

Therapy, Medical Payments and Lost Wages, on Top of Car Repairs? Now a Relatively Minor Accident is now Turning Your Life Upside Down

Of course, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where the accident really isn’t more than a fender-bender and both drivers walk away relatively unscathed. With a little more speed and driver inattention mixed in, however, it’s just as easy to imagine that same accident turning fatal.

But even middle-of-the-road accidents (forgive the pun) can have snowballing consequences, with unforeseen costs mounting and putting a real strain on your life.

And when the other driver’s insurance company says it’s only going to pay you a small fraction of what they owe, that you can “take it or leave it,” you will feel like you’ve been kicked while you’re down. At that point you might find yourself tempted to accept the offer, just to put the ordeal behind you and move on.

What Should You Do?

Doing everything right from the beginning, before the police are involved, before the insurance folks are involved, depends on you keeping a cool head and following our advice.

Emotions run high when a crash occurs, but how you react at the scene and in the weeks to come will go a long way toward securing a fair outcome in the end. So here are the steps to take when you’re in an accident:

  1. STEP ONE: Be prepared. This means having your vehicle registration, insurance card and driver’s license in the care with you. Have a safety kit ready that includes first aid supplies . If you don’t have a cell phone that can take photos or record notes, have a camera and pen and paper handy. You’ll need to document the damage done to your vehicle and the other driver’s.
  2. STEP TWO: The accident has occurred. This is where you need to catch your breath and stay calm. Don’t get angry! Turn off the engine and shift into park (or set the hand brake). Check on your passengers and look for any pedestrians who may have been affected. Look around before getting out of the car! If anyone in your car, in the other driver’s vehicle, or around the scene of the crash appears to be injured, call 911 immediately.
  3. STEP THREE: If no one seems to be seriously injured, don’t call police at this point. First , move your vehicles if it’s safe to do so. Louisiana's "Move It, Move It, Move It―Steer It Clear" campaign says it is your responsibility to remove vehicles from the roadway. You need to get out of danger if there is fast-moving traffic around you. If you can’t move your car, turn your hazards on to make other drivers aware of you. Note: even if your car is operable, leave it where it is if you think there will be a criminal charge (like a DUI) or if someone was injured enough to need immediate medical attention.
  4. Compliance with Louisiana’s “Move IT – If you can steer it, clear it!” safety requirement (LA RS 32:141.D) shall be in no way interpreted as a violation of the requirements to remain at the scene of the crash or evidence of fault. Law enforcement and insurance company personnel are well trained to analyze physical evidence, witness accounts, and crash dynamics to determine the cause of the crash and the at fault driver , alleviating the public’s concern of moving crashed vehicles prematurely. --- Louisiana State Police statement
  5. STEP FOUR: Call the police. Even if no one is injured, a police report will be crucial when you’re dealing with insurance companies later. When the officers arrive, remember to stay level-headed. Avoid blaming the other driver or admitting any kind of fault of your own. It will be up to the responding officers to document the facts, and accusations at this stage of the game aren’t helpful. Note: The police may decline to come if there are no injuries; in this case, you should file a written accident report to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections within 24 hours.
  6. STEP FIVE: Go into “newspaper reporter” mode. Now is the time go gather facts. Write down as much as you can (remember step one? You should have a pen and paper). Get the names of the other driver and their passengers. Get their license plate number and insurance information. Note the makes and models of all vehicles involved. If possible, get contact information for nearby witnesses. If you have your smartphone or camera handy, take photos of the relative positions of the vehicles (if they haven’t been moved) and of any visible damage.
  7. STEP SIX: File your claim through your insurer. They will make an appointment for you to have a vehicle damage estimate conducted .
  8. STEP SEVEN: Hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Do this as soon as possible after the accident. This allows photos, witness statements, investigation, and accident reports to be obtained quickly. Anderson Blanda & Saltzman knows the specific laws that apply to auto crash claims and the commercial trucking industry. We act immediately to gather evidence and retain experts (if needed) . In many cases, we can even cover the costs of litigation and medical expenses during litigation.
Remember: Insurance Companies Aren’t Your Friend

Let’s forget that hypothetical accident for now and look at how insurance companies stay profitable. They contest frivolous claims, of course, as they should do. But as we’ve seen time and again, they also try to save money by delaying and denying legitimate claims. They may say you aren’t “really” injured, or they may defend their low-ball offer in courtroom battles that never seem to end.

The “three D’s” make up the mantra of these commercial insurance companies: “Deny. Delay. Defend.”

Why You Should Stand Up for Yourself

By the time 2017 comes to an end, a ccident victims in Louisiana will have walked away from millions of dollars they were rightfully owed this year. They will do it because they just want to get on with their lives and put the entire unpleasant experience behind them.

One former claims adjuster for Allstate told CNN she would offer as little as $50 dollars in some cases. Some accident victims thought if they didn't accept her offer, they'd get nothing at all. Imagine someone who has been injured, who has missed work, who has gone back and forth with police and insurance companies and doctors over the course of many months. It’s not a stretch to picture them accepting such an absurd offer, fearing that they might not get anything at all if they don’t.

Yes, getting justice in a court of law might take longer than an initial lowball offer. Hang in there. Even if your case doesn’t go before a jury, Anderson Blanda & Saltzman can stand up to the insurance companies on your behalf.

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