Car accidents happen suddenly and unexpectedly. The aftermath can be confusing. Knowing what to do after an accident can protect your health, wellbeing, and legal rights.
At Recovery Law Center in Honolulu, your concerns are our concerns. Our priority is making sure that you feel supported after an accident. Attorney Glenn Honda has 25 years of experience successfully representing injured clients throughout Oahu. He can help you, too.
What to Do at the Scene of a Car Accident
The chances are high that you will be in at least one car accident during your lifetime. With luck, it will be a minor fender bender and you’ll walk away unharmed. But if you’ve never been in a crash, figuring out what to do next may seem like a mystery.
Here’s what to do at the scene of the accident:
- Get out of the road: Remaining on the road could lead to a secondary crash. If it’s safe and possible to do so, pull your car to the shoulder of the road. Get out of the car and stand aside to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
- Check for injuries: Look for any immediate signs of injury, both to yourself and your passengers. Also check the driver and occupants of other vehicles for signs of trauma. If anyone is seriously injured, do not move them, as that could make their injuries worse.
- Call 911: In Hawaii, accidents that involve injury, death or vehicle damage exceeding $3,000 must be reported. Getting paramedics and law enforcement to the crash site are essential after a wreck.
- Stay at the accident scene: It’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident in Hawaii without reporting it and without exchanging information with the other driver(s). If police are responding to the scene, wait until they arrive and you are dismissed.
- Collect information: Hawaii is a no-fault state, which means your initial accident claim will go to your insurance company. But you may have to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance carrier, too. Exchange insurance information with all drivers involved. Make sure to get their names, addresses, phone numbers and driver’s license numbers. Record the license plate number, make, model and year of the vehicles involved. This is also the time to collect contact information for any witnesses to the crash.
- Document the scene: Take pictures of the accident scene. Include shots of the damage to your vehicle, the other vehicle(s), and the surrounding environment. Look for any evidence that might be relevant, such as skid marks, broken glass, damaged signage, or torn clothing. It’s also a good idea to keep a photo diary of your injuries, both from the date of the accident and as you heal.
The steps you take at the accident protect your safety as well as your claim for compensation. But if you had to be transported immediately due to severe injuries, don’t worry. The legal team at Recovery Law Center can take care of any missing pieces for you.
What to Do in the Days After the Crash
The actions you take in the days, weeks and months after a crash can also play a role in the outcome of your car accident claim. Use the following tips as a guide.
- See a doctor: Some injuries aren’t apparent right away. Even if you don’t feel injured, see a physician as soon as possible after a wreck. If you’re visiting Honolulu, you can still visit an urgent care, walk-in clinic or emergency room for a checkup. This shows the insurance company that you took your car accident seriously and took immediate action in case of injury.
- Report the accident to your insurance company: Read your insurance policy. Most have a deadline for when crashes must be reported. Keep in mind that you only need to report that the accident occurred. Do not provide a recorded statement or answer questions about injuries until you have spoken with an attorney.
- Contact a trusted car accident lawyer: You’d be surprised how quickly insurance companies try to get you on the phone to settle your claim. That’s not because you’re getting great customer service. It’s because they know that claimants without attorneys are less likely to know the value of their claims. Typically, you’re entitled to more compensation than you’re offered the first time around.
Working with a lawyer can also help you determine whether you could pursue a claim beyond your own Hawaii no-fault auto policy. There are times when it’s possible to file a lawsuit against the other driver, but your injuries and accident must meet certain criteria.
The good news is that at Recovery Law Center, you can get personalized legal advice in a free consultation. We’ll look at the facts of your case and discuss all of your options. Whether you choose to hire our law firm or not, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that you considered every avenue for compensation.
More questions? Give us a call to schedule your consultation today.
What NOT to Do After a Honolulu Car Wreck
Just as there are many things to do after a car accident, there are certain actions that you should avoid to protect your claim.
- Be persuaded not to call police: First, any injury crashes must be reported by law. Drivers who beg you to handle the accident privately are worried about the consequences for themselves, not your safety and best interests. A police report is also a valuable piece of evidence in a car accident claim.
- Admit fault: Under Hawaii’s modified comparative negligence law, you could be entitled to compensation even if you are partially responsible for a car accident. But even a simple apology could be taken out of context by the insurance company and used against you.
- Speak to the other party’s insurance company: You are not required to speak to the other driver’s insurance company about the crash. Instead, refer their questions to your attorney.
- Agree to the first settlement offer: Understanding the long-term impact of serious injuries takes time. If you agree to a settlement in the first few days after a crash, you could miss out on vital compensation that could support you and your family in the future.
- File a lawsuit without an attorney: Accident victims who choose to represent themselves in court are at a great disadvantage. The procedures for filing lawsuits are complicated and best handled by a skilled attorney.
How to File Your Car Accident Claim in Honolulu
The process starts by calling your insurance company. If your injuries were minor, you can recover compensation through your own policy. Serious injuries and property damage will need to go through the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Your ability to collect compensation will be greatly affected if you share any responsibility for the wreck. Hawaii’s modified comparative fault law allows you to receive compensation as long as you are not 51 percent or more responsible for the accident. However, the ultimate amount you receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Having an experienced attorney by your side when fault is in question is essential. If you are blamed unfairly for the crash, you could lose all rights to compensation.
Most car accident cases result in settlements. But if an insurance company refuses to give you a fair settlement, you may have the option of taking the case to trial. There are pros and cons of going to trial, so it’s important to discuss these carefully with your lawyer first.
Accident Prevention Tips
Unfortunately, there’s no way to control other drivers on the road. Your best chance of avoiding a car accident is to pay attention, drive defensively and obey all traffic rules.
It’s also good to prepare an emergency kit to keep in your car in case an accident occurs. This kit should include:
- Small road cones
- Emergency flares
- Disposable camera
- Notepad and a pen
- Medical information including health insurance information, allergies, medications and any conditions you suffer from
- Emergency contact information
- First aid kit
- Water bottles
Keeping your vehicle well maintained is also a part of accident prevention.
- Get regular inspections, tune ups and oil changes.
- Check your tire air pressure and wear before hitting the road.
- Make sure your spare tire is in good condition.
- Replace old windshield wipers.
- Keep front and rear windshields and mirrors cleared of smudges and debris.
Call an Experience Honolulu Car Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident in Honolulu, your focus should be on healing. That’s hard to do when you’ve got insurance matters to handle and a growing mountain of medical bills. You’ve got a friend at Recovery Law Center.
You can relax when you put your case in our hands. You can count on our legal team to handle your claim with the professionalism, respect and care that it deserves. You can also rest assured that we’ll fight aggressively on your behalf to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Ready to get started? Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.