You suffered a serious car accident injury. Now what? Someone else caused your accident; does that mean you should expect compensation for your injuries? Do you need to contact your insurance company? Here is the information you need to know about the steps you need to take as you navigate your recovery and your claim.
At the Scene of the Accident
Did you know that the actions you take at the scene of a car accident can make a huge difference in your later ability to recover compensation? Make sure you follow these vital steps.
1. Secure Anyone You’re Responsible for at the Scene of the Accident
Do you have kids, pets, or elderly individuals in the vehicle with you? As soon as you have assessed your own injuries, check them over and make sure they are in a secure location. Do not remove kids from their car seats or allow them to wander around the scene of the accident. Instead, wait for first responders to arrive.
2. Report the Accident
Call 911 to report the accident. There are any number of reasons why the liable driver might not want you to report the accident, but what it boils down to is this: if you do not report the accident to the police, it can be much more difficult to seek the compensation you deserve following your car accident. Always report any accident that results in significant injury or property damage.
3. Seek Medical Attention for Your Car Accident Injury
Did you suffer serious injuries? If so, you may have little choice about pursuing compensation after your accident. On the other hand, if you think you sustained relatively minor injuries in the accident, you may try to get away with not pursuing medical care. With the high cost of medical care, it’s little wonder that some people try to avoid medical treatment. However, your decision to forego medical care could make your injuries worse—and if you later discover hidden injuries, it could make it more difficult for you to get compensation.
4. Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident Until Help Arrives
In most states, you can legally leave the scene of the accident for only three key reasons:
- You cannot call the police from your current location—usually because you have an accident in an area not covered by cell service
- You or someone else involved in the accident needs immediate medical attention
- You do not feel safe at the scene of the accident
Remain on the scene until help arrives. If you do have to leave for any reason, notify dispatch about your reason for leaving the scene and where responding officers can meet you.
5. Collect Information and Evidence for Your Claim
Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones, collecting evidence after your car accident is easier than ever. Snap photos of relevant details and documentation on your phone. You may later need:
- The name and contact information of the liable driver (snap a photo of the license and write down or record the phone number in your phone to make this easier)
- A picture of the liable driver’s insurance card
- The plate number on the other vehicle
- Photos of damage to either vehicle
- Photos of the vehicle that clearly show make, model, and color
- Photos of any injuries you can clearly see
- Information about where the accident took place
6. Avoid Any Admission of Guilt
All too often, people end up inadvertently accepting guilt in an accident because they want to “make the other driver feel better.” Do not accept any liability for the accident or make an agreement at the scene. Give the police an accurate assessment of the events that led to the accident rather than offering additional information or commentary.
After the Accident
After you leave the scene of the accident, make sure you follow these crucial steps to continue to protect yourself.
7. Get a Copy of the Police Report
Make sure it contains an accurate picture of how the accident took place and who bears liability. Contact the police department and responding officers if you note any problems.
8. Get in Touch With an Attorney Before You Contact Either Insurance Company
Serious injuries in a car accident may add substantial complications to the claim. Get in touch with a car accident attorney to learn more about your right to compensation and how to move forward with your claim, including when you should contact your insurance company. An attorney can also handle interactions with either insurance company on your behalf, which may increase the odds that you will receive the compensation you deserve.
9. Follow All Instructions Given by Your Medical Providers
If your medical providers tell you not to do something, avoid it until you have permission to do it again! You do not want to face any accusation that you may have inadvertently worsened your own injuries.
In the aftermath of a severe car accident, you may have a lot of questions about what to do next. Contact an attorney near you to learn more about the best steps to take and how to protect yourself.