Being involved in a car accident, no matter how minor, can disrupt your entire life. Especially if you have never experienced a motor vehicle collision, knowing what to do and how to respond can be confusing.
After an accident, your most important first step is to get medical attention whether or not you believe you have been injured. Sometimes injuries sustained during an accident are not recognized or noticeable for days or weeks after the accident. So, even if you feel fine immediately following the accident, seek medical attention just in case.
You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if you had no part in causing the accident. The insurance company of the at-fault driver will pay for your claim. If the at-fault party is uninsured, your own insurance company will cover the cost. However, before any insurance company will pay for your claim, you must receive all the medical care you need. Afterward, the settlement negotiation process will begin. You can learn more about this process here.
Accident reports include information identifying witnesses, estimated vehicle damage, the insurance carriers, and even a diagram of the accident scene.
All accidents that involve death, injury, or property damage exceeding $1,000 must be reported to the police. Your license can be suspended if you fail to report an accident.
One of the most important documents for you to obtain after a car accident is the accident report. The local law enforcement agency creates this document by asking questions of you, the other driver, and any witnesses. Immediately after the accident, you may be in shock, physical pain, or may not know what to say.
In North Carolina, law enforcement typically makes accident reports available online for a nominal fee within seventy-two (72) hours after a motor vehicle collision. If you were a party to the accident, you can often obtain a copy for free from your local law enforcement.
The accident report can be found on the North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s website. You will have three options to search for the report: 1) Last name and date range; 2) County and date range; 3) Report number.
Make sure you read over the report carefully – the smallest mistake can have an impact on your personal injury claim. The officer who wrote the report likely did not witness the accident himself or herself and relied on statements to piece together what happened.
Sometimes officers draw a diagram of the accident and the vehicles involved, and they may mislabel the diagram or mix up which vehicle is which. Check the accident report thoroughly to make sure the time of day, road conditions, injuries, damage to property, and other facts are noted correctly.
If you see a mistake on your accident report, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you. We can interview witnesses, hire an expert, and analyze what happened during the accident. This can be used in the courtroom to show the inaccuracies in the police officer’s report.