314,921 car accidents were reported last year in Michigan. While that is close to 892 accidents every day, nobody ever wants to think it can happen to them, but it does. Being prepared in advance is the best way to make sure that you know what to do if it happens to you. Here are the top 6 things you need to do after a car accident to ensure full compensation for your injuries!
Make a Police Report
This point seems obvious, but you would be surprised how many people would rather get to work, school, or to their meeting than wait for the police to arrive! However, a police report is crucial for many reasons. First, your insurance company is usually going to want an objective and independent verification that the accident took place. Police will also interview witnesses, get vehicle and insurance information and usually assess who was at fault for the accident and why. Additionally, the police note if any of the parties were injured and the extent of the damage to the vehicles. All this information will help you when you are dealing with your insurance company after the accident while also creating an important piece of evidence should you ever have to file a lawsuit. You can usually purchase a copy of the report from the traffic crash purchasing system if your auto accident was investigated by the Michigan State Police.
Don’t Change The Scene / Take Pictures
Moving your car or removing debris after an accident can be a big mistake. In a lot of accidents fault or liability is a major factor in determining whether you can receive compensation. If the cars have been moved before any photo’s can be taken or any drawings can be performed by the police, it will make it seriously difficult to prove your story. The best thing to do, is first, not to move your car or disturb the scene until police or emergency workers arrive. The next best thing is to take pictures of the scene. This removes all subjectivity around where the cars ended up and in a lot ways demonstrates how the accident happened. It also demonstrates the extent of damage to your vehicle. This will be very important when you make a claim to have the damage to your vehicle paid for by your insurance company.
Document Your Own Injuries
If you were injured in the accident, you must be your own advocate and make sure your injuries are documented. Most people have a romantic view of insurance companies and think that they are out there to believe them and help in whatever way they can. This is false. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and not paying or not fully paying claims. If you can’t show what your injuries are, or if you don’t have evidence of your injuries, good luck getting an insurance company to compensate you for them. Most adjusters want to see evidence or in their minds it doesn’t exist. So you have to take pictures of your injuries, you have to write down what was actually injured and how badly. Further it is best to go to the doctor so that medical records exist as evidence documenting your injuries. I will go over this in more depth later.
Make a First Party Insurance Claim
Making a claim for your injuries and or damage to your vehicle is very important in Michigan. Because we are a no-fault state, the first claim you are going to make is to your own insurance company. We call this your 1st party, because they are usually first to pay you benefits. You need to call up your own insurance company and tell them about your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, if you are missing work, if you need help doing chores around the house, and if you need someone to help you with nursing care, like getting dressed, bathed, or helping you with your wounds. Almost always this information will be placed on a form called an application for no-fault benefits. It is paramount that you list all your problems and all your injuries, so that the insurance company does not come back later and attempt to say one of your problems must have occurred after the accident because you didn’t list it originally on the form.
Get Medical Treatment
As I stated earlier in the post, if you’re injured and want to be compensated you should go to the doctor. Insurance companies are not going to take your word for it that you have an injury or that you are in pain. Medical records, and medical treatment is your only avenue to making sure that an insurance company will know that you are hurt and in pain. This is sad but true. You pay all the premiums and are treated like a common crook who is not to be believed. This is the state of insurance in our state so its best to be prepared. If you hurt your back, your neck, your foot, or whatever, make sure you go to the ER. Then make sure you go to any referring doctor or surgeon that your hospital sent you to. If you are still having pain and or issues, go to your family doctor and try to get a referral to a specialist. This is the only way to let you insurance company know you are hurt. This can be a lot work, but it is necessary so that you can be compensated for your injuries.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
An accident lawyer can help you all along the way with the process. We know what steps to take and how make sure that you are going to get full compensation for your injuries. Michigan’s complicated No-fault law has a lot of pit falls and the insurance company will use that to their advantage. They will try to trip you up and make laughable offers hoping you don’t know the difference or what rights you are giving up, rights that in many cases could literally affect you and financial health for the rest of your life.