What to Do After a Car Accident?

A car accident can be a traumatic experience. You are worried about the damage to your car, but you also have to worry about potential injuries and how the accident will affect your car insurance rates.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers will help you through the claims process, from filing a car insurance claim to taking legal action if necessary. We will guide you through every step and ensure that you are fully compensated for your losses.

Call our personal injury attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation. All sensitive or confidential information you share will be kept private through an attorney-client relationship.

What to do after a car accident is not always clear. Accident victims often feel shaken up and unsure of what to do next. We understand that this is a stressful and challenging time for you, and our experienced Chicago car accident lawyers are here to help.

National Statistics of Car Accidents In the United States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 36,096 fatalities due to motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2020.  A decrease of 1,486 fatalities from 2019 (37,582) is the lowest number of traffic fatalities since 2014. NHTSA also reports an estimated 4.8 million police-reported crashes in 2020, down from 6.4 million in 2019.

The decrease in traffic fatalities can be attributed to a reduction in the number of vehicle miles traveled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the miles traveled decreased by 13.6% in 2020 compared to 2019. It is the largest year-over-year decrease in vehicle miles traveled since the agency began tracking this data in 1942.

While there was an overall decrease in traffic fatalities, certain accidents increased in 2020. However, pedestrian fatalities increased by 5.4%, and bicycle fatalities increased by 12.2%. Motorcyclist fatalities also saw an increase of 8.2% that year.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the following are some additional statistics regarding car accidents in the United States:

  • In 2019, a police report showed 6.8 million crashes involving passenger vehicles.
  • Of those crashes, 2.7 million resulted in serious injuries, and 32,860 resulted in fatalities.
  • The average cost of a motor vehicle crash is $78,900.
  • The most common type of crash is a rear-end collision, accounting for 29% of all collisions.
  • The second most common type of crash is a sideswipe, which accounts for 16% of accidents.
  • Head-on collisions are the third most common type of crash, accounting for 9% of collisions.
  • Single-vehicle crashes accounted for 8% of all crashes.
  • Rollover accidents are the fifth most common type of crash, accounting for 3% of wrecks.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

There are many different causes of car accidents.  Some of the most common causes include:

Distracted Driving

The most common reason for vehicle accidents in the United States today is drivers being distracted. A distracted driver’s attention is diverted away from the road to chat on a phone, text, or eat food while driving.

Other forms of  distracted driving include:

  • Talking to passengers in the car
  • Adjusting the music
  • Grooming oneself
  • Reading
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video

Drowsy Driving (Fatigue)

Drowsy driving is another common cause of car accidents, especially among commercial truck drivers.  The National Sleep Foundation estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 100,000 crashes each year.  Drowsy driving can be caused by:

  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Working long hours
  • Taking medication that causes drowsiness
  • Drinking alcohol before driving

Speeding

According to the NHTSA, speeding is a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities.  Speeding can increase the chance of a crash and the severity of injuries.  It is important always to obey the posted speed limit and drive at a safe speed for road conditions.

Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions can also lead to car accidents.  Some examples of bad weather conditions include:

  • Snow
  • Ice
  • Rain
  • Fog

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Driving

DUI includes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and driving while impaired can decrease reaction time.  It is always important to designate a sober driver if you plan on drinking.

Defective Car Parts

Sometimes car accidents are caused by defective car parts.  Some examples of defective car parts that have been linked to accidents include:

Car Accidents Types

There are many different types of car accidents, including:

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions are the most common type of car accident and occur when one vehicle hits the back end of another vehicle.  Rear-end collisions are often caused by distracted driving, tailgating, or speeding.

Sideswipe Collisions

Sideswipe collisions occur when the side of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle.  Sideswiping another vehicle is often caused by distracted driving or changing lanes without signaling.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions involve the front end of one vehicle hitting the front end of the other driver.  Head-on collisions can be serious and are often caused by distracted driving, speeding, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Single-Vehicle Crashes

Single-vehicle crashes occur when only one vehicle is involved in the accident.  Single-vehicle accidents are often caused by distracted driving, speeding, or poor road conditions.

Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents are the fifth most common type of car accident when a vehicle rolls over onto its roof.  Rollover accidents are often caused by speeding or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Multi-Vehicle Crashes

Multi-vehicle crashes are also known as pileups or chain reaction accidents.  Multi-vehicle crashes involve three or more vehicles and are often caused by distracted driving, speeding, or bad weather conditions.

What to Do After a Car Accident

What to do after a car accident can be confusing and frustrating. It’s critical to understand what actions must be taken following a collision. Use this checklist to assist you in making decisions following the accident:

Move to a Safe Location and Remain Calm

If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road or a safe location away from traffic to prevent further accidents. Once you’ve moved to safety, turn on the hazard lights and check yourself and your passengers for injuries. It is also important to remain calm and not argue, even if it is the other driver’s fault.

Report the Accident to the Authorities

When you are injured or there is significant damage to either vehicle call 911 to report the accident and request an ambulance be sent to the crash scene. The authorities will provide roadside assistance and may send a tow truck to help you move your damaged car to a collision repair shop. 

Be sure to exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident, including the other motorist’s contact information, insurance company policy number, driver’s license, and vehicle make, model, and license plate number.

Write down the police officer’s name, badge number, and police report number to obtain a copy of their report at the nearest police station.

Gather Information and Evidence

If you can do so, it’s important to collect as much information and evidence at the scene of the accident. Take photographs of the accident scene. Make sure to get pictures of the following:

  • All vehicles involved in the accident
  • The other driver’s license number
  • The contact information of the insurance company of the other driver involved, including the insurance card
  • Any visible injuries
  • Brake marks on the roadway or property damage
  • Traffic signs and signals in the nearby vicinity

Make sure you call the police so they can make an accident report. The police report will contain important information that may be useful later on. If the accident occurred on private property, be sure to get the name and contact information of the property owner.

Get Witness Information

If there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to get their names and exchange contact information. Their testimony may be critical in determining how the accident happened.

Do Not Admit Fault

Do not admit fault or apologize to the other driver involved in the accident. Anything you say following the accident could be used against you later. It is essential to let your insurance provider and lawyer determine who is at fault for the crash.

Journal What Happened During the Accident

After the accident, write down everything you remember about how the accident occurred as soon as possible. 

Include a description of the vehicles involved, the damage to each vehicle, any injuries you or your passengers may have suffered, and what happened leading up to the accident. This information will be critical in assisting your lawyer later on.

Seek Medical Treatment

If you or your passengers are injured in the accident, it’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible. In some cases, injuries sustained in an accident may not be immediately apparent.

It’s important to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident.

Call Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident and begin the claims process. Do not give the at-fault driver or claims adjuster a recorded statement without consulting a lawyer first.

Contact an Accident Injury Lawyer

It is essential to consult with a lawyer before giving any statements to insurance companies. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and protect your interests following an accident. 

Following these steps after being involved in an accident will help ensure that you are taken care of and protected. If you have any questions, contact an experienced car accident attorney.

What to Do When You Are At Fault For A Car Accident

If you are found to be at fault for a car crash, there are a few things you need to do to protect yourself. You must not admit fault or apologize to the other driver involved in the accident. Anything you say following the accident could be used against you later. Here are some dos and don’ts when you are involved in an at-fault accident:

What To Do

  • Notify your insurance company as soon as possible:  State law requires you to notify your insurance company of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Your insurance company will then begin to investigate the accident and deal with any insurance claims process.
  • Get a police report: You can report accidents to the police, even with a minor collision. A police report can help determine who is at fault for the accident and deal with insurance companies. In many states, you must file a police report if the damage to any vehicle or property.
  • Review your policy:  It is important to know what your insurance policy covers and what it doesn’t. Reviewing your policy can help you understand what to expect from your insurance company following an accident.
  • File a claim:  Even when you are at fault, you may be entitled to certain benefits from your insurance company. Filing an insurance claim will begin getting you the compensation you deserve.
  • Consult with a lawyer:  If you are found to be at fault for an accident, it is essential to consult with a lawyer to protect your rights. A lawyer can also help you understand your policy and what to expect from your insurance company.

What Not to Do

  • Don’t admit fault:  Even if you think you may be at fault for an accident, it is important not to admit responsibility for causing the accident. Anything you say following the accident could be used against you later.
  • Don’t flee the scene:  Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in most states. If you are involved in an accident, it is important to stay at the scene and exchange insurance information with the other drivers involved.
  • Don’t apologize:  Like admitting fault, apologizing to the other drivers involved in the accident could be used against you later.
  • Don’t give a statement:  It is important not to give the other driver’s insurance company a statement without first consulting with a lawyer. Anything you say could be used against you later.
  • Don’t sign anything:  The other driver’s insurance company may try to get you to sign a release form following the accident. It is important not to sign anything or without first consulting with a lawyer.

Following these steps after being involved in an accident where you are at fault will help ensure that you are protected. If you have any questions, contact an experienced car accident lawyer.

Car Insurance Coverage During Road Accident

It’s critical to understand how to deal with insurance after a vehicle accident. 

The Insurance Information Institute (III) notes that the average driver will file a claim for a collision about once every 17.9 years and an auto liability claim for property damage every 10 years. Every state requires a minimum level of liability coverage.

Understanding Basic Car Insurance Claims

Some types of car insurance coverage will pay claims following an accident:

  • Liability Coverage: It is the most basic coverage for automobiles. Liability insurance covers claims for injuries such as medical costs, property damage, missed income, and pain and suffering.

Many states require drivers to purchase and maintain liability coverage. The states that don’t have this requirement typically have a financial responsibility law.

  • Rental car coverage:  Rental car coverage is optional but can be very helpful if your car is totaled or needs repairs that will take a long time. Rental car reimbursement pays for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.
  • Collision coverage: This type of insurance covers damage to your vehicle resulting from another vehicle or object collision. It will pay to repair or replace your car, minus any deductible. This coverage is not required by law but may be required by your lender if you have a loan or lease on your vehicle.

Most times, collision coverage is packaged with comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is also known as “other than collision” or “fire and theft” coverage, this type of insurance protects your vehicle from damage not caused by a collision. 

For example, comprehensive coverage will pay to repair if your car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by weather (hail, flooding, etc.).

  • Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Personal Injury Protection car insurance covers medical expenses and, in some states, lost wages and other damages regardless of who is at fault in an accident. PIP is required in some states and optional in others.
  • No-Fault Insurance: In states with “no-fault” car insurance, each driver’s own insurance company pays their medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages and other damages, regardless of who is at fault. You are not responsible for their other driver’s expenses and vice versa. No-fault laws vary from state to state, so it’s essential to know the rules where you live.

Speak with your agent or company to understand what coverages are available and which ones make sense for you.

Steps to Follow for Claiming Car Insurance After an Accident

Making an insurance claim is the best way to compensate for damages after an automobile accident. However, there are some things you should keep in mind when making a claim.

  • First and foremost, it’s important to contact your insurance professional as soon as possible after the accident. It will give the professionals a chance to start investigating the claim and begin the process of approving or denying coverage.
  • Next, you’ll need to fill out a claim form and submit it along with any supporting documentation, such as photos or medical bills. Once the insurance company has received the claim form, they will look into the accident and determine how much they think the repairs will cost.
  • If the insurance company agrees to cover the repairs, they will send you a check or direct you to a repair shop. If they deny coverage, you will be responsible for paying for the repairs yourself or file a claim against the other driver.

Documents Required to Make an Auto Insurance Claim

To make a claim, you will need to submit the following documents to your insurance company:

  • A completed claim form
  • Proof of insurance (your policy)
  • The police report that was filed after police arrived at the accident scene)
  • Bills for medical treatment
  • Receipts for any other expenses related to the accident, such as car rental or towing
  • Photographs of the damage to your car
  • Driver’s license and license plate number

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides a helpful checklist of the documents you will need to file a claim; they also advise that you only provide what is required by the state law.

Auto Accidents and the Uninsured

An estimated 12% of drivers on the road are uninsured, which means that if you are in an accident with one of them, you may be left to pay for your damages.

The best way to protect yourself from being left with a huge bill after an accident is to have adequate car insurance coverage. You should also avoid driving in areas where there are many uninsured drivers.

What to Do if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance

If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you have a few options:

  • You can file a claim with your own insurance company if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Your insurance company will pay for your damages up to your policy’s limit.
  • If you don’t have this coverage, you may be able to sue the other driver to recover damages, but it can be difficult to collect.

If you have any questions about what to do after an accident, contact your insurance company or our team of car accident lawyers. They’ll be able to help you figure out the best course of action for your particular situation.

Car Accidents – FAQs

Several questions are commonly asked after someone is involved in an auto accident. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

How Much Compensation Should I Expect to Receive?

It is difficult to answer because it varies so much depending on the individual case. Generally, the amount of compensation you receive will be based on the severity of your injuries and how much financial loss you have suffered from the accident. 

If the other driver were at fault, their insurance company would usually be responsible for paying your medical bills and any other damages you deserve.

What if the Person Who Caused the Accident Doesn’t Have Insurance?

If the other driver that caused the accident does not have insurance, you may still be able to receive compensation by filing a car accident lawsuit. If you win the lawsuit, the court may order the responsible party to pay you damages.

How Long Will it Take to Settle My Case?

It varies depending on the individual case. Some cases may be settled relatively quickly, while others may take several months or even years to resolve. Cooperate with the insurance adjusters/investigators and your attorney to help ensure a speedy resolution.

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

You are not required to hire a lawyer, but it may be in your best interest. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that you receive the full compensation you deserve.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when hiring a lawyer:

  • Make sure that the lawyer you hire has experience handling car accident cases.
  • Ask the lawyer for a free consultation so that you can get to know them and their legal process.
  • Make sure that you feel comfortable with the lawyer and that they are someone you can trust.

What if I Am Partially at Fault for the Crash?

Each driver is typically assigned a percentage of blame in an at-fault accident. You can only recover 80% of your incurred damages if you’re at fault. Your degree of responsibility will reduce your compensation.

The insurance adjuster will also consider your degree of fault when determining a settlement offer.

What Should I Say to the Other Driver’s Insurer if They Call?

You are not obligated to give the other driver’s insurance company a statement. If you choose to give a statement, be honest and direct. Do not speculate about what happened.

What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?

If the insurance company denies your claim, you may still be able to receive compensation when you file a claim. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate your claim process and fight for your deserved compensation.

These are just a few of the most commonly asked questions about car accidents and personal injury claims. If you have been involved in an auto accident, speaking with an experienced lawyer is important to learn more about your rights and options.

Consult With An Experienced Car Accident Attorney

After an auto accident, the first thing you should do is hire a Chicago car accident lawyer.  A lawyer will be able to help you file a claim and also ensure that you get the maximum compensation possible.

At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, our experienced car accident attorneys have represented hundreds of clients who have been injured in car accidents. We understand the insurance claims process and can help you navigate through it. We will also fight for you to get the maximum compensation possible.

If you have been injured in an auto accident, contact us at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Our consultations are free, and we will never charge you a fee unless we win your case. All sensitive information discussed during our consultation will be confidential through an attorney-client privilege.

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