Car crashes may not happen to everyone, but they can occur with anyone at any time. Things happen quickly on the road, and when they do it is important, perhaps crucial, to know how to handle them. Sometimes when there may be property damage but no obviously life-threatening personal injury, drivers are content merely to shout imprecations at each other and drive on unaware that bystanders or passers-by potentially helpful as witnesses to the crash then disappear forever or that eventually, an opposing legal party may twist what they shouted into an alleged admission of fault or liability.
Things to Do at the Scene
There are things to do and not to do at the scene in the aftermath of a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence. To have all the information necessary for a personal injury legal claim, to preserve its value, recover full and fair compensation after fees and costs, and avoid lots of unnecessary aggravation, take certain actions:
- Check on the condition of everyone involved. If anyone injured needs medical attention, call the police or 911 for assistance and, if necessary, transport to a hospital for treatment.
- If, fortunately, there are no personal injuries, contact the police to report the crash. Official police reports of car crashes can be helpful when injuries don’t present or become apparent until several days later.
- Do not move any crashed vehicle unless it blocks traffic or is in a hazardous position. If it is necessary to move any vehicle involved, take a photograph of the crash scene first if possible.
- Record the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the crash. This basic, elementary information makes more information available to investigators if they start with nothing else.
- Collect contact information for all vehicle drivers and passengers and all witnesses to the accident. Passengers and, especially, disinterested witnesses can be sources of significantly material information that can affect claims decisively.
- Request insurance information, insurer identities, and policy numbers from all other drivers.
- Note any statements at the crash scene of those involved, particularly any implication or outright admission of fault. Stories often change over time, so a contemporaneous record of who said what can be very probative evidence.
- Take photographs of the crash scene from a distance and from up close.
- For injuries or health problems from a car crash, schedule a medical examination as soon as possible without unnecessary delay. Latent injuries sometimes take several days after a crash to become manifest. Don’t give an insurance company or an opposing party an excuse to raise an accusation of malingering or failing to mitigate damages.
Things to Do Later
Instead of trying to remember all of these important things to do in the tumult and confusion that typically follow car crashes, an easier and better way may be to print a copy of this list and keep it in the car glove box. If there is never a need for it, so much the better.
The best thing any recently injured car crash victim who failed to take the actions listed here can do is to see a medical professional and consult with a skilled, experienced car crash personal injury attorney to consider how best to proceed to protect and preserve legal rights.
Following the car crash, keep records of all related costs not covered by health insurance or the car insurer. Follow up with the police to confirm which driver they have found at fault for the crash, and secure a copy of the official collision report. Keep a written record tracking all symptoms and medical appointments as the useful support for a personal injury claim.
Consult a Car Crash Personal Injury Attorney
Not every car crash case may need the full-time assistance of professional counsel. In a minor case, the claimant may be able to negotiate a small compensatory settlement.
Personal injury cases, however, are not cut and dried. It’s not really possible to say at the outset of a case how complex it may become. To be safe and sure, contact a car crash personal injury attorney right away for a complimentary case evaluation. Claimants represented by attorneys get more compensation than do those who represent themselves in the mistaken belief that they can save money that way.