After a car accident, dozens of thoughts rush through your mind. Am I okay? Is everyone else okay? Should I call 911? What happened? Should I talk to the other driver? Do I call the insurance company now or later? At Peterson & Associates, P.C., we understand how the aftermath of an accident is a baffling and complicated time. So while we hope you never have to use it, here’s a simple step-by-step guide to follow after being involved in a motor vehicle crash.
8 Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident
While every incident is different, we believe these are some of the most critical actions to take to ensure your wellbeing and, if necessary, prepare for a personal injury claim against the negligent driver.
1. Call 911
Even a seemingly minor fender-bender might pose a hazard to other motorists still on the road, and not all injuries are immediately visible. Let the professionals administer first aid. If you move someone, you may be personally liable for their injuries. You also want law enforcement at the scene to record details to determine injury and vehicle damages.
2. Wait for Emergency Vehicles to Arrive
Aside from checking on the health status of the other driver and passengers, there’s no need to talk with them otherwise. Wait for the police and other emergency workers to arrive and handle the situation.
3. Watch For Signs of Fire
If any of the vehicles involved in the crash exhibit signs of fire, such as heavy smoke, move away from the area as quickly as you can and warn others to do the same. The vehicles could explode, and you want to be safely out of harm’s way.
4. Seek Medical Attention
Regardless of how you feel immediately after an accident, always get a medical exam. Some injuries may take time to develop, and symptoms might not surface for days, but a proper diagnosis can identify potential problems more readily. Additionally, keep all medical records from the start, indicating the scope of your injuries, recommended and administered treatment, and prognosis for recovery. This is essential information for a car accident attorney to assign value to your damages.
5. Obtain a Police Report
Give your entire account of the event to the police with as many details as possible. Also, request a copy of the report. Having an official police report is crucial in liability disputes.
6. Exchange Information
If possible, exchange information with the other driver or have someone else do it for you. This includes driver’s license and insurance details. You need this information to file a claim against the at-fault party with their insurance company. Many people exchange contact information with other motorists, then part ways if there are no apparent serious injuries. This is a mistake that could cost you heavily. You can’t be sure the other driver will report the accident to their insurance company or that the information they gave you is even factual.
7. Gather Other Forms of Evidence
Get the license plate number, make, and model of all vehicles involved in the crash. Record the date, time, and place of the collision. If there are any eyewitnesses, ask for their contact information, too. You or someone else may also want to take pictures of the vehicle damage, your injuries, and other details. The more evidence from the scene you have, the better your chances of pursuing a claim. Additionally, review the police report to ensure all the drivers’ names and contact information are correct.
8. Contact a Car Accident Claim Lawyer
Insurance companies may try to reduce or even deny your claim, especially if there are expensive medical bills. Even if you’re sure the other driver is at fault, the auto insurance companies might not see it that way.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents?
Look at the news on any given day and there are reports on various auto accidents in your community. Accidents are caused by several factors, including but not limited to:
- Drunk driving
- Reckless driving
- Fatigued driving
- Distracted driving
- Vehicle maintenance problems
- Defective automobile parts
To truly understand the details of your situation and what options you may have, reach out to a legal professional to increase your chances of a favorable outcome. By retaining an experienced car accident attorney, you can better prepare for the process ahead and get the compensation you deserve for a fair financial recovery.