10 Steps You Should Take After an Automobile Accident
1) Stop Your Vehicle
No matter what type of vehicle you’re operating you’re required by law to stop your vehicle after an accident or collision. Stop as close to the site as is safely possible without blocking traffic. Use your emergency flashers, cones, reflectors, lights or any other highly visible mechanism to ensure maximum visibility and safety.
2) Check Yourself For Injuries
If you’re injured, call 911 or ask someone else to do so. If you are seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency services.
Get immediate medical attention, even in instances when the injuries seem minor. Serious injuries may not be readily apparent immediately following a collision, so undergoing a physical medical evaluation is a smart move.
3) Check On the Well-Being of Others
If you’re able, check on the other passengers in your car. If anyone’s injured, call 911 or ask a bystander to call for help. Do NOT move an injured person. Doing so can aggravate or lead to additional or further injuries. Comfort any injured people to the best of your abilities and wait for emergency responders to arrive.
4) Determine if You Need to Call the Police
You’re not required by law to contact the police if there are no injuries, and both parties are in agreement that it’s unnecessary. However, be forewarned that all injuries or vehicle damage are not always immediately apparent. If an accident is caused by another driver, it’s almost always advisable to call the police—unless you’re certain that no damage has been done.
5) Do Not Implicate Yourself
Don’t assume you’re to blame. Avoid discussing fault when going over the facts with the other driver. Even if you believe the automobile accident is your fault, don’t volunteer to take the blame, agree to pay for damages, or sign any statement that assigns blame without being advised to do so by an experienced personal injury attorney.
6) Exchange Insurance and Contact Information
Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. If you’re unable to write information down, use your phone to take pictures.
- Full name, date of birth, address, phone number(s), email address, driver’s license number, and place of employment
- Vehicle make, model, color, and license plate number
- Insurance company and policy number
7) Document Your Experience and Gather Evidence
Once the police arrive, get the name and badge number of all responding officers. Find out from the police where you can obtain a copy of the accident report. If possible take photos and video of the scene and all vehicles involved, including their license plates. Be sure to show the damage done to both cars from all angles. Document and photo any skid marks and final resting places of both vehicles. Write down the names and contact info of all witnesses, including any passengers from both vehicles. Video on cell phones works excellent at recording this information, including sounds.
Keep a daily journal of any injuries and the impact they have had on your day-to-day life. Because It’s possible for a trial to take place 2-3 years after an accident, it’s important to document what you’ve gone through after the accident. A daily journal can be very useful if your case were to ever go in front of a jury. Keep copies of all your photos and videos in a safe and secure location.
Don’t talk about the accident or share on social media. This is particularly important in the sense that you do not want to give the insurance companies or attorneys who are representing others any information or statements. Of course, you should provide any necessary information to police, medical professionals and your own insurance company and attorney.
8) Track Expenses
Any expenses related to your injury should be closely tracked and documented in the days and weeks following the incident. This includes medical bills, cost of prescriptions, lost work hours/wages, transportation costs, etc.
9) Notify Your Insurance Company
Notify Your Insurer and Start the Claims Process. If possible, call your insurance agent while you’re at the scene. That way, they can tell you exactly what they’ll need to process your claim and what to expect during the claims process.
Be careful what you say when filing an insurance claim, even if you’re speaking to your insurance company. Don’t allow telephone calls to be recorded. Never agree to a recorded telephone call with an insurance company’s lawyer regarding the insurance company’s accident investigation. Insurance companies are not on your side and will look for any opportunity to devalue or deny your claim. The very people who are insuring you and who agree to pay you in the event of an accident are also the people who review your claim to see if you have grounds to recover compensation. It is always best to have very limited conversations with the insurance company and let your attorney discuss any issues with them for you that way you will be protected.
10) Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve suffered personal injury due to an automobile accident, it’s recommended that you contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Once you get in touch with your lawyer, you’ll need to provide him with all the information and evidence you’ve gathered. This will aid the attorney in evaluating your claim and help him to begin work on the case more quickly. The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the sooner they can begin the process of formally filing a claim.
Let us Protect you and Get your Life Back on Track
No one ever plans on being in an auto accident, and automobile accident claims can become complicated quickly. After an accident, a person can become frazzled and may not be able to think clearly. We’re here to help you every step of the way and to advise you on how to best recover both physically and financially. To best protect you legally it’s vital that you meet with a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after an accident. If you would like our help, we offer a free no pressure consultation to get all your questions answered and start the process of getting your life back on track.
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