Before you are involved in a car accident, it is a great idea to be prepared. If you are not sure what you should do in the aftermath of an accident that was not your fault, the other party and their lawyer may be able to take advantage of you. You could also be missing out on the financial compensation and medical care you need. Having a qualified Personal Injury Attorney in your corner will mean that you are better able to deal with the aftermath of an accident.
Here are 10 steps you should take to protect yourself after suffering from a car accident.
Do not drive away from the scene of any accident, even if you feel that it was minor. Even if you do not think that it is necessary to talk to the other driver, you should do so.
2. Protect the Scene
You should put your automobile’s flashers on to alert other motorists that there are cars on the shoulder. If you have safety flares, this would be a good time to use them. It is safer to wait in your disabled car than to stand on the side of the road, especially in the dark.
3. Call the Police
Even if it seems that no one is injured and the damage to the cars is relatively minor, you should still call the police. If you want to file a claim with the car insurance company, you will need a police report to do so. You will also need a police report for the other driver’s insurance company. Do not move your vehicle from the scene of the accident unless it is unsafe to leave it there.
4. Make Sure Records are Accurate
When the police arrive, be sure to tell the investigating officers what happened. Be as exact as possible. If you are not sure of any pertinent facts, you should tell the officer. Make sure that you do not guess, speculate, or misstate any of the facts.
When the officer or EMS personnel ask whether you have been injured, you should tell them that you don’t know, even if you feel fine. In many cases, the injuries or pain from a car accident are not felt for several hours. If the responding officers or EMS tell you that you should be transported to the hospital, you should go.
5. Take Pictures
If you are able to do so, take pictures of the vehicles. You should photograph your injuries as well. Make sure that you do not interfere with the police investigation of the scene. If there are some photos that you cannot get at the scene, take them at home. This is especially true if the scene is dark or if there are hazardous road conditions.
6. Exchange Information
The investigating police officer will take care of this in many cases. However, if the police do not respond, you should get the name, address, and telephone number of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident. If there are outside witnesses, you will need to get their contact information as well. Usually, the responding officer will give you the police report number so that you can get a copy of the report to send to your insurance company.
7. Report the Accident
Make sure that you tell your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Many policies require that you file a claim promptly and that you are fully compliant with the claims process. You should find out whether you have medical benefits included with your coverage. These cost extra with your policy, so if you have them, you should use them. All occupants of the vehicle can use your medical payment benefits if you have them on your policy.
8. Get Medical Attention
You may feel fine at the scene of the accident, but your injuries may not be apparent. Many people involved in car accidents report feeling the most pain within 1 to 2 days afterward. Unless you are completely sure that you were not injured, you should go to the emergency room or see your family physician.
Even minor impacts can lead to serious and permanent spinal injury, concussions, whiplash, and more. Any of these injuries can lead to lasting health problems if they are not treated right away.
9. Be Organized
You should keep all of your files on the accidents in an easily accessible space. You need your claim number, the contact information for your adjuster, the contact information for all drivers, passengers, and the responding police officer, rental car receipts, and any other incurred expenses.
10. Consult Your Attorney
The most important thing you can do after an accident is to call your personal injury attorney. Searching for an attorney when you are suffering from an injury is difficult, so it is best to have an attorney pre-contracted in case of an accident. Your attorney will be able to help you protect your rights and ensure that evidence is not destroyed.
The insurance company will often want to take immediate statements, but it is a better idea to wait for your attorney’s advice before providing it to them. Attorneys can help you make sure that you are being adequately compensated and that you are getting proper medical treatment. A personal injury lawyer is invaluable in the difficult period following an accident.
These lawyers often work on contingency fees, meaning that the lawyer only gets paid if you receive compensation. This means that calling an attorney is a good decision for everyone.