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What is the first step after a car accident?

If you have been injured a car accident there are certain steps you should take immediately to insure you are protected. First, if you are injured you will need to seek immediate medical treatment. If you are not seriously injured you will also need to go to the doctor, but you can take other steps at the scene of the accident.

First, you will need to make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay and call an ambulance if anyone is injured. You also need to get information from each driver involved in the accident including their names, addresses, phone numbers, registration numbers and the name of their insurance company.

It's important to avoid any admissions of guilt or to blame any other driver for the accident. The police will investigate the accident, and they can draw their own conclusions. Next, make sure you get a description of each car, including the year, make, model, color and damage sustained. Finally, contact your insurance company and file a claim.

Can I file a personal injury lawsuit?

Most car accident cases are settled directly with the insurance company. Some states have passed no-fault injury laws. Other states have not. In no-fault states the insurance company for each driver compensates the drivers for their injuries and property damage, regardless of who caused the accident.

In at-fault states the insurance company of the person responsible for the car accident will pay for all expenses related to the car accident.

For minor accidents with limited property damage and no serious injuries you may simply contact your insurance company, report your related expenses, and they will either make payments for the damage (in a no-fault state) or you may work with the insurance company of the other at-fault driver to receive compensation.

Do I have a personal injury claim?

So when do you consider filing a car accident lawsuit? If you live in a state with no-fault laws you may have forfeited your right to file an injury claim unless the cost of your injuries or the severity of your injuries reaches a certain level. Some states use a threshold based on the seriousness of the injury; others consider the costs of the injuries. In no-fault states if your injuries do not reach the necessary threshold you cannot file an injury claim.

Other states, however, allow drivers to file car accident injury claims without restrictions. For instance, if you have filed a claim with the other driver's insurance company but they refuse to pay for the total cost of your injuries, in an at-fault state you have the legal right to pursue additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.

Remember, every state has statute of limitations for filing any type of personal injury case, including car accident lawsuits.

Some states also will only award compensation to claimants who are not responsible in any way for their own injuries. Other states will determine fault and make payments based on those percentages. Other states will only award payments if you are less than 50% at-fault for your injuries.

Talk to a car accident lawyer for more information.