No one likes to think about the possibility of getting into an accident, but these types of events can and do happen all the time. It’s important to have a decent understanding of what you need to do and how you should proceed after an accident to ensure your safety, especially from a legal perspective. Let’s look at the basic steps you will need to take during the aftermath of a car wreck.
Check for Injuries
Car accidents, even the ones that are relatively minor, can cause a number of injuries. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you will need to check for injuries. If you, someone in your vehicle or another vehicle, or a pedestrian have an injury, get medical attention right away. If someone is injured, do not move them until help arrives, as it could injure them further. The only exception to this rule is if they are in a hazardous situation where not moving them would cause greater injury.
Contact the Police
If there is significant property damage, injury, or death, it is very important that you contact the police. The police will arrive to help with the situation and file a police report. In circumstances where they do file a police report, ask for the name and the badge numbers of the officers at the scene. You may need to have access for this report later if you are working with an attorney.
Get the Appropriate Information
If there are no injuries, the next step is to exchange information with the other party. You need to make sure you get the name, phone number, driver’s license number, address, license plate, and insurance information from all of the parties involved. Regardless of who you believe was at fault for the accident, you must remember to stay as calm and collected as possible during your interactions. Also, never mention that you are “sorry” or that it was your fault. That’s not for you to decide, but if you say any of those things, the other party’s insurance company and attorney could use it against you.
Speak With Witnesses
If there were other witnesses at the scene, make sure you ask them what they saw. Also, ask for their name and numbers if you can and if they will provide them to you. It may also be a good idea to ask them if they’ve seen any other accidents in the same place. It might not be the fault of either driver, and could instead be an issue with the roadway, blind spots, etc.
Talk With Your Insurance Company
As soon as you are able, you should speak with your insurance company and let them know you’ve been in an accident. Let them know about your injuries and be honest with them about what happened. Do not lie to the insurance company. If you do, there’s a good chance that they may deny coverage for the accident. The insurance company may also want information from the police report.
While it is important that you speak with your insurance company, you do not want to speak with the other driver’s insurance company or their attorney. Never sign anything they present to you either. They want to pay out as little as possible, and may offer a deal to quell the problem. Always be wary of any early settlement offers they send your way. Instead, you need to wait until you’ve contacted your own attorney. Let them handle the other insurance company and attorneys.
Keep Track of Medical Expenses
Keep track of all of the medical expenses you incur as a result of the accident, no matter how minor they might seem. Make sure you have documentation for all of your visits to the doctor as well. In some cases, you may have minimal or no signs of injury right after the accident. However, injures can appear hours, days, and sometimes even weeks later. Make sure that you keep track of it all for your attorney and insurance company.
Working With an Attorney
Having an attorney on your side will be a massive advantage after you’ve been in an accident. The attorney will help you determine whether you have a case or not. If the cause of the accident was due to the negligence of the other driver, and you have an injury, then there is a good chance that you will have a case.
Not only will an attorney be able to help relieve you of much of the stress and confusion that you may normally feel after an accident, but also, the lawyer can help to maximize the potential recovery from the case. Additionally, the attorney can help with any medical liens or subrogation claims that may have stemmed from the accident, ensuring that you will not owe money once you’ve been able to settle the case.
One of the important things to keep in mind after you’ve been in an accident is that in most locations you will have a limited amount of time that you can file your case. This is generally two years from the date of the accident, but it can differ. It’s always in your best interest to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Victims may be able to recover a range of different damages, and it generally depends on the severity of the injuries as well as the individual elements of the case. Most often, injured parties will be able to recover damages for their past and recurring medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, and mental anguish. In some cases, it may also be possible to recover lost wages, impairment, disfigurement, and loss of earning capacity.
Those who have been in a car accident have a lot to think about in the aftermath. Take it slow, try to remain as calm as you can, and make sure you speak with an attorney as soon as you are able. They help to take the confusion and the guesswork out of what will happen next.