What should I do immediately after an accident?
- Check to see if anyone is injured. If so, obtain medical assistance. Call the police and other emergency services if needed;
- Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone at the scene, including all drivers, passengers and witnesses;
- Get the driver’s license number of all drivers and the car license number of each car involved. Get the name, address and phone number of the insurance company for each driver and car involved;
- Stay calm and do not get involved in any arguments with anyone. Do not talk with others at the scene except to get names and addresses and to exchange information about licenses, registrations and insurance;
- Don’t comment on the cause of the accident, and do not, under any circumstances, admit fault;
- If you are offered ambulance service to the hospital, accept it, regardless of whether you think you have been injured. Sometimes a serious injury is not immediately apparent to the victim.
What should I do in the days following the accident?
- You should keep track of all costs associated with the injury. This includes lost time at work, payments for medical service or prescriptions, and other costs that you otherwise would not have incurred, such as child care or car rental.
- You also should keep track of how your injury has affected you. Keep notes of the things you can and cannot do, when and where you have pain, and how badly it hurts. If you have significant property damage to your car you should take pictures of the damage. Save your car repair bills.
- If someone has been injured or there is property damage over $500, then you must file a report with the State of New Hampshire.
- You should notify your own car insurance company of the accident, even if you believe you were not at fault.
- Finally, we recommend that you contact us to discuss legal representation. It costs nothing to talk with us, and we can probably help you. In many cases, decisions must be made very soon after an accident, and these early decisions can dramatically affect the amount of compensation you later receive. Often our early involvement will be vital in getting you the amount you deserve.
The other driver’s insurance company has contacted me. Who’s side are they on?
Not yours. The other driver’s insurance company has 2 goals. First, they want to protect their insured (the person who caused your injury), and second, they want to pay you as little money as possible.
I didn’t go to the doctor right after the accident, but now I am feeling some pain. What should I do?
Go to the doctor and seek medical treatment. If you have health or auto insurance you may be able to get them to pay for all or part of the treatment. If you don’t have insurance, go to the doctor anyway. Some doctors and clinics will wait to be paid out of a settlement if they know that you are represented by an attorney and that your injury was someone else’s fault.
The accident happened a week ago. My neck hurts and the other driver’s insurance company has offered me money. Should I take it?
Be very careful. Insurance companies make a profit by keeping money and investing it, not by paying it to injured victims. An early offer is very often only a fraction of the real worth of the injury. We recommend that you accept no offer until you are sure you know the full extent of your injury, and how it’s going to affect your life. Remember that once you accept an insurance company’s offer, you will never get another dime from them. This will be true even if you later discover that your injury is much worse than you first thought.
The driver who caused my injury didn’t have car insurance, but I do. What can I do?
Notify your own insurance company. Every car insurance policy sold in New Hampshire has what is known as uninsured motorist coverage. This covers you when another driver caused the accident, but has no insurance, or has less insurance than you do.
Will my insurance company pay me for my pain and suffering under uninsured motorist coverage?
They should. Your own uninsured motorist coverage is there to protect you when you are injured by an uninsured driver. This protection is not limited to just medical bills; it includes the value of your pain and suffering as well.
The other driver has some insurance, but not enough to cover my claim.
If the other driver does not have enough insurance to pay for your claim, then your own under-insured motorist insurance may pay you. It works like this: Suppose your policy has a limit of $300,000 and the other driver’s policy is limited to $100,000. Your claim is worth $150,000. The other driver’s policy should pay you $100,000, and the remaining $50,000 would be made up by your own under-insured coverage.
I don’t have health insurance. Can I get my medical bills paid?
If you have your own NH auto insurance, then your policy has what is called “med pay”. The amount of this med pay coverage varies from policy to policy. Its purpose is to make your medical payments for you, or to reimburse you for payments you have already made. If you eventually settle with the driver who caused the accident, or his insurance company, you will not be required to reimburse your own company for any med pay you have received.
How much time do I have to pursue a claim?
You have three years from the date of an accident to bring a lawsuit for damages arising out of the accident. It is always better to involve a lawyer early in the process to help develop your case, keep track of your injuries and expenses, negotiate with the insurance company, and if needed file your claim in court and represent you.
I can’t afford a lawyer. What can I do?
Whether or not you think you have a case, it costs nothing to talk with us and find out. If you have a case and we represent you, you will not have to pay us a legal fee unless and until we recover money for you. Call us. We’ll be glad to talk to you about it.
This information is intended to be a guide only. If you think you have been involved in an auto accident you should get professional legal advice from an attorney.