If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may struggle to control your shock and fear. But, it’s important to pull yourself together, because what you do immediately after an accident could determine whether you are able to recover compensation for your injuries. Here are five things that you must do immediately after an auto accident:
Call for help
The first thing you should do after a collision is call for help. Some people assume that there’s no need to call law enforcement if it was a minor accident, but that’s not the case. Even a low impact accident could lead to serious injuries and property damage, and you will need everything, including who is at fault, formally documented in a police report. Let the dispatcher know the location of the accident and whether anyone is injured so they know if they need to send an ambulance to the scene.
After you have called for help, let the other drivers involved in the accident know that a police officer is on his way. Keep an eye on the other drivers to ensure they do not leave the scene of the accident prior to the police officer arriving. If they do, try to get a license plate number that you can report to the police.
Seek medical treatment
If you have been involved in an accident, you will need to seek medical treatment as soon as possible even if you think the injuries you have suffered are minor. Serious injuries can be treated at the scene of the accident by emergency medical responders, but if your injuries do not require this type of treatment, it is important that you visit a doctor immediately.
Why do you need to see a doctor if you have been injured? If you plan on seeking compensation from the at-fault party, you will need to prove that your injuries are real and that they were caused by the accident. The best way to do this is by having all of your symptoms and injuries documented by a medical professional.
Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, you should still see a doctor so you can document the symptoms that you are experiencing. Why? Symptoms may not seem serious right after an accident, but they can worsen over time. For example, if you have suffered a concussion, you may only have a headache immediately following the accident. As hours pass by, you could start to develop other serious symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and confusion. If you go to a doctor hours or days later, it will be more difficult to prove that your injuries were caused in the accident. This could prevent you from recovering compensation for your injuries from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
It’s important to exchange information with the other drivers and passengers who were involved in the accident. Ask for each person’s name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, and insurance information. You should do this as soon as possible after the collision so no one attempts to leave the scene of the accident before you have written down their information.
Watch what you say when you communicate with other drivers or passengers at the scene. Be careful not to say anything that could be interpreted as you taking blame or apologizing for the accident. Even saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry this happened,” could be taken out of context and used against you to prove that you were at fault for the accident. You also shouldn’t talk about your injuries. Try to avoid talking about anything besides exchanging information to protect yourself.
Document the evidence
If you do not need emergency medical attention, it’s strongly recommended that you document evidence at the scene of the accident. Take photos of the damage on your vehicle, and any other vehicles that were involved in the accident. If there is any debris in the road, take pictures of this as well. You should also take pictures of any traffic signs or lights that could have contributed to the accident. For example, if a driver turned right at a red light when a sign clearly stated that this was not allowed, this should be documented to prove who was at fault. Take photos of your injuries if they are visible. If they’re not visible, it may be helpful to keep a journal where you can write down the symptoms you experience on a daily basis.
After you have left the scene of the accident, you should continue to document any piece of evidence that supports your personal injury claim. For example, keep copies of all your medical records that show the extent of your injuries. If you had to spend money on prescription medication, walking aids, or medical care, keep the invoices so you can be reimbursed. The more evidence you have to prove that your version of events is true and your injuries are real, the stronger your case will be.
Contact an attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident, you will need a personal injury attorney who can help you recover the compensation you deserve. It’s imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as possible following the accident so he can begin investigating the accident, identifying liable parties, and protecting your rights.
You should never talk to an insurance company about the accident until you have legal representation. If an insurance company contacts you and asks for a recorded statement, do not give one without talking to an attorney first. Insurance adjusters may try to get you to admit fault or agree to a very low settlement, but you shouldn’t fall for one of these tricks. Let a lawyer handle the communication with the insurance company so you are treated fairly.
If you have been injured in an auto accident and are interested in filing a personal injury claim, contact Trial Lawyers for Justice today to schedule a consultation. Our team of attorneys can thoroughly review your case and help you recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.