W. Robert Howell/FLickr Creative Commons
Traffic accidents in the USA affect foreign visitors every year, including German tourists. After a car accident in the USA, there are often opportunities to receive substantial compensation. This compensation typically includes reimbursement for property damage, medical treatment costs, and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering compensation is often significantly higher in the USA than in other countries. Additionally, compensation for the families of those who have lost their lives in fatal accidents is possible and common, which is not the case in many other jurisdictions.
Steps Immediately After the Accident
Emergency Call and Information
Dial the US emergency number 911 immediately and inform the police about the location and time of the accident and whether there is a need for immediate medical assistance or extrication from a damaged vehicle.
Provide your personal information, including your name, phone number, driver’s license number, date of birth, and address, to the police and other parties involved.
Provide information about the vehicle, the vehicle owner, and the liability insurance.
Avoid Admitting Fault
Never admit fault at the scene of the accident. Avoid statements like „I’m sorry“ or „I didn’t see you,“ as they can have significant legal consequences.
Generally, avoid making statements about the accident, especially if you are in shock or if English is not your native language. There is generally no obligation to provide a statement to the police.
Witnesses and Evidence
Collect the contact information of all parties involved in the accident and any witnesses.
Immediately after the accident, make notes about the cause of the accident and your own observations.
Look for potential witnesses in the vicinity and record their contact information.
Documentation and Evidence Immediately After the Accident
Accident Scene and Surroundings
Create a detailed sketch of the accident scene, including any signs and road markings.
Take photos from various angles and distances of the accident scene, including road signs and markings.
This is especially important for speed limit signs and yield signs.
Suspected Alcohol or Drug Use
If you suspect that the other party involved in the accident is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, inform the responding police officers and urge them to make appropriate assessments.
Medical Treatment in the USA
Seek medical attention promptly after the accident, even for minor injuries.
Ensure that all injuries are medically treated and documented during each examination and follow-up.
Take photographs of all injuries from various angles and distances.
Do not miss any follow-up treatments or check-ups.
Keep records of all appointments, treatments, and examinations.
Medical Treatment After Your Return Home
Upon your return, schedule a medical examination with your primary care physician and any specialists, if necessary.
Insist on comprehensive documentation of the cause and treatment of your injuries.
Loss of Income
Keep precise records of your lost income, whether you are an employee or self-employed.
Note missed work hours, sick days, and hours spent on doctor’s visits.
Obtain a certificate from your employer regarding income losses.
Request copies of all hospital bills, doctor’s bills, and therapy invoices from the beginning.
Keep all X-rays and similar diagnostic records.
Communication with Insurers and Attorneys
Reporting the Accident
Notify your own car insurance company immediately, usually the insurance of your rental car.
Review your insurance documents to ensure that the report is made promptly and correctly.
Communication with the Opposing Party
Often, US insurers attempt to obtain a signed liability waiver from the injured party. This may happen even after your return home, through phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings.
Sometimes, representatives of the insurance company may contact you in your native language and offer a quick lump-sum settlement.
In such cases, refrain from engaging in any conversations and do not respond, whether orally or in writing. Simply inform the other party that they should contact your attorney.
Selecting the Right Attorney
Seek Legal Counsel
Immediately after the accident, get in touch with an attorney in the USA who specializes in accidents involving international visitors.
Our law firm has been successfully representing foreign accident victims in the USA for nearly 20 years. We have our own offices in several US states and can provide legal representation throughout the USA. Our offices outside the USA serve as points of contact in your native language. In areas where we do not have our own branches, we work closely with local colleagues.
Handling car accidents in the USA can be complex, and the compensation you can obtain depends on many factors. By following the above steps and carefully gathering evidence, you can significantly improve your chances of receiving fair compensation.