A car accident is a stressful event. In the moments after a car crash, it’s hard to think clearly.
The trauma and emotions of the moment can lead you to make mistakes. And those mistakes could limit your right to compensation.
That’s why it’s important to know what to do after a car accident. Here’s a look at the best steps to take after a vehicle accident.
Determine if Everyone Is Safe
The moments following a car accident are chaotic. It’s important to make sure everyone involved is safe.
If possible, exit your vehicle and turn on your emergency flashers. If the accident is more than a slight fender bender, call 911.
Even if the accident is minor, you should call the police and get a police report. Unless you need immediate medical attention, stay at the scene until an officer releases you.
Assess the Situation and Exchange Information
After ensuring everyone’s safety, you should take inventory of what happened. This is an important step for ensuring your rights are protected.
- Take pictures of the scene and vehicles
- Move the cars after you’ve taken pictures
- Do not apologize or admit fault
- Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver
Getting contact information is a necessary step. This information could be vital if there are disputes or if the other driver has no insurance. Try to collect the following:
- The driver’s name, address, and phone number
- Insurance information, including policy numbers
- The other party’s driver’s license number
- Make, model, and year of the vehicles involved
- Photos of the cars, accident scene, or property damage
- Accident report number
- Police officers’ names and badge numbers
Call Your Insurance Company
Be sure to contact your insurance company to report the accident. It’s better to call right away before the other party reports a claim.
Inform your insurance company of the basic details of the accident. This step is crucial even if the accident was minor.
This protects you and may be part of your insurance contract. Failing to contact the insurance company in a reasonable amount of time could affect your compensation or your future insurance coverage.
Contact an Attorney
Don’t hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer. Even if you believe the accident was minor, you never know what issues may pop up down the road.
Your attorney will protect your rights and look out for your best interests. The insurance company will attempt to pay out the least amount possible.
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to more than they’re willing to pay. You need a skilled negotiator to handle the job.
Choose an attorney with the following:
- Experience with car accident cases
- A free consultation
- Good communication skills
- Positive reviews
- A long list of credentials
- A solid reputation
There are statutes of limitations for car accident cases. It’s wise to contact an attorney right away following an auto accident.
You want to give your attorney ample time to focus on your case and get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Even if you don’t foresee any problems after your accident, it’s important to keep careful records. With auto accidents, you never know if a claim will be made against you or if the other driver will file a lawsuit.
To protect yourself, keep all documentation that relates to your accident and your health. Here are some records to gather and keep:
- Inspection and damage reports
- Repair estimates, receipts, or valuations for a totaled vehicle
- Accident reports
- All medical records and medical bills
- Evidence of time off work due to your injuries
Car accidents are traumatic and stressful. The emotional toll of a serious accident can be hard to quantify.
Consider keeping a journal of non-physical and non-economic issues relating to your accident. It’s important to document any mental health issues you experience following an accident.
Visit Your Doctor
When you’re involved in a minor accident, you may want to avoid a trip to the doctor. But that could be a serious mistake.
It’s crucial to have a medical evaluation as soon as possible following a car accident. Some symptoms, including back, neck, and head injuries, aren’t always present immediately after an accident.
These symptoms could appear in the days, weeks, or even months to come. Make sure you report any symptoms you’re having to your doctor and keep all of your medical records for documentation.
Do not rush to settle with your insurance company. Insurance companies are often in a hurry to settle car accident cases.
They know that the effects of an accident are often lingering. If they settle right away, you lose your right to ask for additional compensation.
Never try to negotiate with the insurance company on your own. Having a personal injury lawyer by your side will increase your chances for a favorable settlement.
The costs of a car accident can go beyond the costs of treating your injuries and repairing your car. You may be out of work or have ongoing medical expenses to contend with.
Many parties don’t consider the full extent of the costs of an accident and end up accepting a low settlement. This is another reason why having a personal injury lawyer on board is so important.
What to Do After a Car Accident
A car accident can have lasting effects that can change your life long after the accident is over. It’s important to know what to do after a car accident and to take the right measures to protect your rights.
At Sweet Law, we value our clients and do all we can to ensure they receive the fair compensation they deserve. We’re here to help. Contact us today to discuss your case.