A vehicle accident is a lousy experience. First of all, there’s the chance that you or a family member could be seriously hurt. Then there are police reports, repair bills, and potential problems if you’ve leased your vehicle.
Standing outside your wrecked SUV on the side of Interstate 55 is not the time to educate yourself about handling a car accident. It’s one of those life events that you should learn about from qualified, specialized people. Even more important is to make sure you know how to handle things when you get in an accident with an uninsured driver.
The experts at www.accidentlawyerstlouis.com have some good advice about many different situations involving a collision. They can help you as hometown St. Louis practitioners – they know the ins and outs of legal action in the city’s court system.
Here are some tips combined from their ideas and from good consumer resources.
Know How To React
Don’t admit fault. Never admit fault. Don’t leap from the car, apologizing and saying it’s your fault and that you have insurance.
You might have done something wrong. But did it cause the accident? You have no way of knowing the exact speed of the other vehicle, where it was, and if it was under the driver’s control.
There could be black ice that the other driver hit, and thanks to the notoriously turbulent St. Louis weather, that can occur even if it’s a fairly warm day. Snap a few pictures of the area on your phone, because that black ice may melt away before police arrive.
Your statements at the scene can absolutely ruin you in depositions or in court. So instead of spouting off with theories of what happened, contact the authorities, ensure that your passengers are safe, and don’t discuss the event with the other driver.
Meanwhile, should that driver choose to make statements about what happened, pay attention and maybe even take notes.
Know Your Rights
Along that same line, you don’t have to comply with someone else’s suggestions or insistence about how to resolve the situation. Many drivers will try to exchange insurance information and leave without a police report.
That’s a bad idea. While there may be a long wait ahead for an officer to come to you, that’s not the only reason that other driver wants to sweep it under the rug. Maybe the driver’s license has expired. Maybe the insurance information being offered isn’t valid, which you’ll only learn later when it fails to pay you.
Whatever problem you may thwart, you’ll be glad you didn’t rush through the investigation just to catch Carlos Beltran’s first at-bat. (He might strike out anyway!)
You also have the right to contest any settlement offered to you by the other driver or his or her insurance company. It’s not “take it or leave it”, it may be “take it or litigate”. If you don’t feel their offer is fair for your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain, you should litigate.
Know Who Can Help
That’s where a good accident lawyer comes in. If you’ve ever had to seek specialized medical help, you know that you can’t address every medical problem with your general practitioner. If your knee hurts, he or she will send you to an orthopedist at SLU Hospital. If you have a persistent rash, you’ll be on your way to a dermatologist.
The legal profession is the same way. Utilizing an accident lawyer is better than a general attorney, even if he or she agrees to take your case, because accident lawyers are specialized and know how to work within the legal system to maximize the benefit to you.
And because St. Louis residents are back and forth into Illinois very frequently, you’ll want an attorney familiar with both Illinois and Missouri law. The firm that handled your grandfather’s estate might not have the background for the job.
The best way to deal with an accident is to be prepared for it. Educate yourself and be aware of what your strategy should be.