Car accidents are complicated - hands down. In the blink of an eye, many factors conspire to create a crash, sometimes with devastating chain-link reactions. Often, it's a combination of factors that contribute to a crash, and in these cases, fault will often be disputed. A good personal injury attorney will know how to investigate and weight these factors, and it is best to rely on such an advisor's sound judgement in helping you decide how to go forward.
Here are four steps accident victims can take in cases where fault may be disputed from skilled Bellingham, Washington car accident attorney, Bill Coats.
1. Collecting Physical Evidence
If a claim needs to go to trial, physical evidence is one of your biggest tools in the toolchest of building a solid case. Thus, collecting physical evidence is extremely important, and cannot be emphasized enough. Physical evidence includes taking pictures and video of the accident and injuries, and making sure it is properly notated and described in case you forget key details such as street location, time of day, etc. Even if you end up needing to repair damage to your vehicle in order to use it, you'll still have evidence that shows what happened. This evidence is also critical to accident reconstruction experts who look at all the evidence collected and can piece together a theory of what mistakes were made that led to the collision, just by looking at the evidence alone. Often a personal injury attorney will know which experts to employ to look at these facts and present skilled testimony to help build the case.
2. Gathering Witnesses
Neutral witnesses can provide enormous help to your case. Talk with bystanders at the scene of the collision about what they saw. Those who agree that the fault was not yours can help build your case. Make sure to get their contact information because their testimony as a neutral party can be critical to convincing others who were not there that you were not at fault.
3. Report to the Police
It is critical - and in many places, mandated by law - that police must be notified when an accident occurs. This notification automatically happens if someone at the scene calls 911. Police officers are supposed to provide neutral testimony in a legal record called a police report, and yet sometimes an officer will miss facts and make mistakes. Still, police reports will be useful to your case, so make sure you file one, even if not done so automatically. In Washington State, here is the process for initiating a police report if no police were present at the original accident scene. By law, you have four days to file one after the accident occurred.
4. Report to your Insurance Company
In an accident with injuries and extensive damage, it is required that you report it to insurers. However, you are not obligated to take whatever claim settlement that is offered to you. Here are more tips on when to report an accident to your insurance company.
Above all, if you've been involved in an accident where fault is being disputed, your best bet is to call a skilled, experienced car accident attorney right away. Bill Coats is your attorney for fault-disputed cases. Having a guide through the complicated and stressful process of a fault-disputed claim is critical to a positive outcome. You can reach Bill here or call (360) 392-2833.
For more info on who pays after a car accident, read the article and watch this video.