What Should You Do After A Car Accident?
Nobody plans on getting into a car accident. It is a scenario most people don’t prepare for, especially if injuries are involved. You might think having insurance is enough, but that is not always true. What you say and do following an auto accident could have an impact on whether you receive fair compensation for any harms and losses that you have suffered.
Most people are unsure of what to do following a car accident. Between your injuries and financial losses, you have a lot to take care of before you ever consider seeking compensation. This guide is meant to make the process easier for you, so you can focus on what’s important.
Immediate Steps To Take
1. Call 911 immediately.
This is a step that makes commonsense. If you or anyone in your vehicle is injured, call 911 immediately to ensure help is on the way. You may not feel injured immediately, but some injuries can take hours or days to manifest, and others can be internal and undetectable. 911 services can arrange to send the police and an ambulance if needed.
If you do not need to be taken to the emergency room, you should take this time to make sure everyone involved is not injured. If there are any injuries, call 911 and seek medical assistance immediately.
2. Be safe.
This is one of the most important things to do following contact with emergency services. Stop your car after the accident and turn off the engine. Make sure it is safe to exit your vehicle. Otherwise, wait until the appropriate authorities to arrive to help you exit your car, truck or SUV.
If possible, take some photos before you move the cars from the scene. Remember, however, that your safety is more important. Do not take photos if it is not safe to do so.
3. Call the police.
If you do not require immediate or emergency medical services, you should call the police department following your accident. This applies to both major and minor accidents. The police will write an official police report that can be helpful for handling insurance companies later.
4. Do not leave the scene.
You should remain at the scene following the accident. While emergency services may not arrive right away, you should still wait so they can perform a medical examination. Not only can they help document your injuries, if you have any, but they can catch any injuries that you may not have realized you had. Adrenaline can cause injuries to go unnoticed.
Police arriving on the scene can also file a report for you. Insurance companies often require police reports, and detailed reports can help your case. These reports often contain where the accident occurred, names and numbers, and even diagrams of the scene. While you should collect similar information for verification, this report is invaluable if you are unable to do so due to injuries or unsafe conditions.
5. Stay calm and keep quiet.
Do your best to keep calm following the auto accident. Do not panic and remain calm, so that you can take the right steps to protect yourself and your finances after the accident.
You should do your best to minimize speaking with the other party or parties involved. It can be difficult, especially following an accident, but comments made at the scene will never be helpful to you and your case. Do not admit guilt, even if you think you may have been at fault. Also do not engage with the other driver(s). Misspoken words or admissions of fault can be used against you during a case.
6. Exchange information.
If you are able to, identify the driver or drivers of the vehicles involved in the collision. Be sure to obtain information about the other driver (and any passengers):
- Name, address, and telephone number
- Employer and work phone
- Make, model, and year of their car
- Registered owner’s name
- Insurance company name, agent name, and policy number
- The driver’s injuries or pain complaints
- Any statements the driver makes to you about the accident
This should be included in the police report. However, it is a good practice to have a copy of all this information for your own records. If the other driver was at fault for the crash, this information acts as the contact information of those responsible for paying damages.
7. Gather witness testimony, photos, and videos.
While you wait for the police to arrive, and if you are physically able to, you should gather other important information about the accident, including any witness testimony, photos of the accident, and videos. Make sure to thoroughly document the accident scene.
Identify any witnesses to the car accident. Get their names, addresses, and phone numbers as soon as possible. You can even take video statements if needed. Witnesses can include people who stop at the scene to see if they can be of assistance.
You should also document the accident with photos and videos. Take photos of the scene, any damage done to your car, injuries sustained by you or your passengers, and driving conditions. You should also take photos or videos of any nearby skid marks, vehicle parts, potholes, road signs, construction signs, or other evidence that can be used to find who is at fault for the accident. Photo and video evidence works best if taken from multiple angles to show the extent of the car crash.
8. Be precise with details.
Along with the above evidence, you should also try to jot down as many details about the scene as you can. This includes weather conditions, the exact location of the accident (such as streets and cross streets), a diagram showing the relative positions of the vehicles, and the direction the vehicles were traveling at the time of the accident. You should also note down anything the other drivers or witnesses say. Their statements can help you in any lawsuit.
This type of information or any writing you create is for potential litigation and should not be given or shown to anyone other than your personal injury attorney.
9. Seek medical attention.
Seeking medical attention is extremely important following an accident. If you did not require immediate medical attention following your car accident, you should still seek medical care as soon as you can. Go to an emergency room or your physician for an evaluation immediately. Even though you may not think you are injured, you may actually have injuries that are not immediately apparent.
Do not be surprised if you develop pain later following the accident. Sometimes adrenaline can mask the pain and other conditions cannot be identified without the help of a doctor. Also do not wait for your pain to resolve itself on its own. If you do not seek care, the insurance company can hold it against you and claim you were not injured. Ignoring the pain can also lead to more severe damage that can linger for the rest of your life.
When you arrive at the emergency room or a physician’s office, tell them you have been involved in a car accident and note any unusual pains or sensations no matter how minor they may be. Doctors may recognize your complaints as symptoms of a more serious condition. Also, be sure to tell them of any old injuries that may have been aggravated by the trauma of the accident.
You should request a copy of your injury report when available. This can be used as evidence for your lawsuit and can also help determine damages and losses incurred.
Steps To Take After The Accident
1. Continue all medical treatments as recommended by your doctor.
Like with any medical care, you should follow your doctor’s instructions following medical treatment. Your doctor may provide you with specific instructions about how to handle your injuries and recovery, or specific care instructions, such as changing your dressings if you have severe lacerations. Failure to follow these instructions could worsen your condition.
In addition, if you ignore your doctor’s instructions, you might not receive the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
2. File a report with your health and auto insurance.
Following an auto accident, especially if it is severe, you should contact both your health and auto insurance companies. Contacting both can help you in the long run.
After an accident, your health insurance company will want to know who bears liability for any injuries you suffered. If your injuries are serious, your health insurance may pay for a percentage of your medical bills based on your coverage and the terms of your policy. However, your health insurance company may not fully cover injuries, even if the other party bears liability.
You should also seek to contact your health insurance company so you can ask questions and gain a better understanding of your coverage, including what won’t be covered under your current plan. With this information, you can make well-informed decisions about your healthcare.
The best course of action is to route any communications with an insurer through your car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can ensure any insurance company involved in your claim is following the rules and prevent any unpleasant financial surprises from appearing as you seek medical treatment.
Your auto insurance provider may provide you with the immediate funds needed to repair your vehicle, which can help you get back to driving sooner. They may even provide personal injury medical payments coverage.
3. Do not give recorded statements to the other party’s insurance.
Never give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. This includes any employees, representatives, and investigators for the insurance company that insures the other driver. If by chance, your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company are the same, you need to give a statement to the adjuster handling the claim on your behalf. Issuing statements can be a confusing process, so be sure to involve your car accident lawyer so they can guide you through the process.
4. Do not accept any settlements from the other party’s insurance.
The same advice applies to accepting any settlement offers the other driver’s insurance provider offers you. You should never take a settlement without consulting your car accident attorney first.
Immediately after the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may contact you with an offer. Though it might sound tempting, insurance companies tend to issue a low settlement at first, instead of offering full compensation. If you accept the offer, you cannot seek additional compensation from that party. Have your attorney review any offers from the insurance company.
5. Obtain a copy of the police report.
Following your accident, you should take a look at the police report and make sure it accurately reflects what led or contributed to your accident. In some cases, the report may contain misinformation. You may need to correct this information before you proceed with your car accident claim. Your car accident attorney can collect the police report and other evidence to prove your claim.
6. Inform your employer.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may need to take time off work until you are able, or a physician clears you to work again. The sooner you notify your employer, the better you showcase your willingness to communicate with them and to work with them to streamline your return to the job. A car accident lawyer can help get you the accommodations you need from your employer.
7. Seek counsel.
You should contact a personal injury or car accident attorney following your accident as soon as possible. They can go over your accident with you and determine whether you can file a car accident claim. An experienced attorney will help you better understand your legal rights following a serious accident, including how much compensation you really deserve.
A car accident attorney can help reduce your stress and provide you with the vital information you need to navigate your claim. If your claim goes to court, a car accident attorney can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. They can also serve as an invaluable advocate, handling insurers, creditors, employers, and other parties involved with your case.
8. Avoid missing the deadline for filing a lawsuit.
Most states have a statute of limitations regarding car accidents. In the state of Nevada, the statute of limitations for any personal injury or car accident claim is two years. If you wait too long following your car accident, time can run out on your claim, and you cannot seek compensation for any losses incurred.
This means your case must be concluded or filed within two years. Do not wait to file your claim. Consult with a car accident lawyer to avoid missing out on your compensation.
If you’ve recently been in an accident and are wondering whether you have a claim or how to proceed with your claim, contact us at Dimopoulos Injury Law to get in touch with one of our experienced lawyers. We can walk you through the details of your claim and make sure you get the compensation you deserve.