5 steps to take after an auto accident in Montana
When you are involved in a car or truck accident, everything instantly becomes chaotic. In just a matter of seconds, your life has been turned upside down and you may not be thinking straight. This is especially true if you have been seriously injured.
Knowing what to do when an accident occurs is critical. The steps you take in the seconds, minutes and hours after a crash can have a direct impact on your ability to file a personal injury claim for your losses in Montana.
Use the following step-by-step guideline if you’re involved in an accident:
Step 1. Notify police
The first thing you must do when you have been in an accident is to notify the police. Montana law requires you to file a police report if you’ve been involved in any accident that results in at least $1,000 in damages or if anyone has been injured.
If you’re unable to notify the police of the accident for whatever reason (such as if you don’t have cell phone service), you must file a crash report with Montana Highway Patrol within 10 days of the accident.
Step 2. Gather information and evidence
Gather information at the scene of the accident if you can do so safely and without further injuring yourself. Collect the name and contact information for the other driver, as well as their insurance information. If possible, use your phone to take pictures or video of the accident scene and the immediate surrounding area.
If you are too injured to do this step, or if it’s unsafe for you to be outside of your vehicle, don’t panic. You can gather some of this information after the fact and it should be included in the police report.
Step 3. Seek medical care
Seek medical care as soon as possible after your crash. Even if you drive yourself to the hospital, go there directly after the accident for a medical exam.
While some injuries are obvious at the scene of the accident, many serious injuries are not. Head trauma, internal bleeding, whiplash and back injuries are often undetectable without an exam. Many people attribute the headache or upset stomach they have at the scene of the accident to being anxious or stressed. However, these may be symptoms of serious injuries. Insurance companies, however, often begin to deny claims after about 24 hours because they say your injuries could be from a different event.
Step 4. Inform your insurance company of the accident
Inform your auto insurance company that you were involved in an accident. You may also need to begin a third-party claim. This means that you will seek relief from the other person’s insurance policy to cover your losses.
Montana is a comparative negligence state. Each party has the potential of assuming some of the responsibility for the accident based on the evidence. This is why it’s always in your best interest to seek legal representation when you are filing a claim for compensation.
When you speak with the insurance company, only provide the basic details of the accident and your injuries. Regardless of how hard they push for a detailed explanation or “official statement,” wait until you have spoken with an attorney and gathered more information.
It’s impossible to know the full extent of your losses and your injuries within a few days of the accident. It’s your right to wait to make a statement to the insurer until a later date.
Step 5. Speak with a Montana car accident attorney near you
This step is crucial. Your attorney will have the knowledge and resources to help you make a successful claim for compensation for the full amount to which you are entitled.
For starters, your attorney can help you prove who was at fault for the accident and help determine the full extent of your losses. Having an attorney represent your case will also make sure that you receive all the medical care you need to make the best possible recovery.
When you are involved in any type of car or truck accident, your life changes, and you will face many challenges. Some of these challenges will be physical and mental, while others will be financial. It’s only right that the responsible party covers these damages so that you can put your life back together again.