Being involved in a car accident is enough to shake up any driver. The fear and heightened emotion that occur following an accident can make it difficult to respond rationally, but knowing what to do beforehand can ensure a fair outcome for everyone involved.
To avoid confusion and distress, later on, there are several steps you need to take following a car accident, particularly if you were injured and your injuries are the result of another driver’s actions. To file an injury claim and receive appropriate compensation, observing the following procedures is essential:
- First and foremost, if you or someone else has been injured, call for medical help. Even if there are no obvious injuries, you should contact the police, both for insurance purposes and because many injuries are not immediately apparent, so you’ll need a record of when the event occurred.
- Unless the vehicles involved are creating a safety hazard, do not move them because the police need to see the scene and you will need photo documentation.
- Take photos of the vehicles involved from several different angles and write down license plate numbers.
- Collect the contact information of the other driver, all passengers, and any witnesses or bystanders. Note very carefully the statements of witnesses, particularly if they state or imply who was at fault. Memories grow hazy over time, so it’s important to have these notes for future reference.
- Get the other driver’s insurance information, including their policy number and name of insurance company. Remember, the more information you gather immediately, the more smoothly the claim process will go.
Should you begin experiencing pain or discomfort hours or even days after the accident, see a doctor immediately. The sooner you seek treatment, the less likely it will be that an insurance company can successfully accuse you of feigning or exaggerating an injury. If your symptoms are continuing, it can be worthwhile to start a pain journal that tracks your symptoms, medications, other treatments and rehabilitation care, and all related medical appointments. Likewise, follow up with the police to obtain a copy of the accident report and confirm whether they have determined who was at fault. During this time, you should also be keeping track of all expenses related to the collision, such as receipts for medical care and other expenses not covered by insurance.
When emotions are running high, as they usually are following an accident, it can be difficult to remember the steps you need to take to secure your rights. For this reason, it’s a good idea to print this article and keep it in your vehicle with other important documents. Having a concrete set of instructions to guide you after a collision can calm tensions and help you avoid stress later on.
If you’ve already been involved in an accident but did not take the steps explained here, you should see your doctor immediately, and then contact a personal injury attorney to see what recourse is still available to you.
In some minor cases, drivers may be able to manage their own injury claims and secure a modest settlement. The difficulty, however, is determining whether your case falls into this category. What can at first seem like a straightforward case can often become more complicated over time?
If your injury is serious, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. Your lawyer can usually help you secure greater compensation than you could get handling the case alone, even taking fees into account. And of course, the undue stress and aggravation you’ll save when you have your case handled by a professional are priceless.