What Should You Do After an Accident?
Unfortunately, accidents happen all too often and can occur without warning. One moment you are driving peacefully, and then, your world is suddenly a conglomeration of forces and debris. It is no uncommon for accident victims to be disoriented or confused. However, there are some steps you should take after an accident to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Check for Injuries and Seek Medical Attention
After an accident, the first thing you should do is check for injuries to yourself and your passengers. If anyone is hurt, no matter the extent, call 911. Making sure you or your passengers receive medical attention should be your top priority. Even if you believe you escaped unscathed, you should see your doctor within a day or two. Some injuries are not immediately apparent and symptoms could take days to develop. If you were injured because of another’s negligence, you want to have medical documentation to support an injury claim
Call the Police
While you should call 911 if someone were injured, you should still call the local police even if the accident appears minor. The aftermath of any accident could quickly become complicated, especially if another driver changes their story or if you suffered more severe injuries than you thought at first. Wait for the police to arrive, be cooperative, and be sure to get the officer’s name and badge number. Also, do not forget to ask how you could obtain the accident report.
Document the Scene of the Accident
Nearly everyone has a cellphone equipped with a camera these days. If you have one and are physically capable, document the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the vehicles, the damage, the road conditions, and your injuries. You should also take notes of what occurred while it is fresh in your mind. In the moments following an accident, you do not know where you will be in a few months. Recounting what happened months later while being questioned by an insurance adjuster or defense lawyer could be much easier if you took notes at the time of the crash.
Gather the names and contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident. This information could appear on the police report, but that is not guaranteed. Witnesses are not required to wait for the police to arrive. Therefore, it is crucial to get their information before they leave. Also, do not forget to exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved. This information should appear on the accident report but you still want to have it when you talk with an attorney.
Do Not Admit Fault
The moments immediately following an accident are not the time to debate or argue about what happened. Likewise, it is not the time to be apologetic and admit you were at fault or contributed to the accident. As you hear in television shows – anything you say could be used against you. The only conversation you should have regarding the accident at the scene is with the police. During this conversation, you should not stray from the facts. Do not offer any opinions. The next conversation you have should be with your lawyer
Protect Your Legal Rights
Call our experienced attorney to discuss your rights and options. If you were not at fault, you want to know what steps you need to take to hold the at-fault party liable. Additionally, you want to understand what you need to do to protect yourself from liability. It is also a good idea to speak with a lawyer before discussing your case with an insurance adjuster.
Should You Speak to the Insurance Company?
After an accident, contact your auto insurance provider and report the crash. Most policies have a requirement to report an accident within 24 to 48 hours. The first thing you should do when you get home after an accident is familaize yourself with the terms of your policy.
When you report the incident, stick to the facts. You should not admit fault, give details regarding your injuries, or minimize the significance of your injuries.
You do not have to talk to another driver’s insurance company. Remember, neither company is working for you. In the days or weeks following a crash, the involved insurance companies are looking for ways to minimize their liability. Paying you a fair settlement is not their goal. You should review your case with an attorney and allow them to conduct any communications or negotiations. Never sign a document or accept a settlement offer without seeking legal counsel.