Car accidents can be life-altering, leading to various degrees of injury, expenses from medical treatment, loss of income, and death. Reports from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that in 2020, 38,680 people died in car accidents, and in the first half of 2021, the figure was 20,160.
Take These Steps After a Car Accident:
If you were in a car accident because of another person’s negligence, do the following things after the crash:
Stop Your Vehicle
No matter how minor the accident was, stop your car, turn on your hazard lights, and get out of the vehicle, if you can. In most states in the U.S., including Maryland and Washington DC, it is a criminal offense to flee the scene of a motor vehicle accident.
Call The Police
After a car accident, the severity of the crash often determines the first thing you should do. If it was a minor accident, call the police immediately.
In every case, ensure you report the accident to the police. The police can help determine who was at fault. Also, many insurance companies demand a police report when you file a claim. If there are serious injuries, call 911 if you can.
Assess the Situation
After a car crash, take your time to assess the situation. Check if any person was injured, and the extent of the damage done to the vehicles involved in the crash.
The best thing is to not move your car before the police arrive. You may have to if it is obstructing traffic and if it is safe to do so, but ensure you take pictures before you do.
Write down the names of the witnesses of the accident and their contact information. Don’t rely on the police to do this for you when they arrive.
Being proactive may help you secure witnesses who may not stick around until the police come, or who the police may miss. Also, get the following information from other drivers:
- - Full name and contact information
- - Plate number
- - Drivers license number
- - Auto insurance information
- - Color, make, and model of the car
It’s always recommended that you don’t admit fault. You may not have all of the information to determine fault at that time. However, if you admit fault without all of the available information, your admission will still be used against you later on. It’s the job of the police, insurance adjusters, and fact finders to determine who was at fault. Admitting fault may negatively impact your case if it goes on trial.
Take Pictures of the Accident Scene
Use a camera or your smartphone camera to take clear pictures. Take pictures of your injuries, the damage to the vehicles and any other property, the license plate numbers, the other parties' insurance cards, and the whole accident scene.
Take pictures of any particular road condition, sign, barricade, or other obstruction that you think may have caused or contributed to the accident.
Capture the weather and road conditions, too. Be sure to take pictures from different angles.
Write down your account of the accident, including the time and date. Do not assume you will remember what happened.
Take down all the details while they are still fresh in your mind. If there are witnesses, you can also get their accounts.
Get the Names of Law Enforcement Officers
When the police arrive at the scene, give your account of the accident as you remember it. Decline to answer a question if you don't know the answer. Get the name of the attending police officer and the accident report number for easy reference.
Report The Accident
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible so you can start the insurance claim process for car accidents. However, speak with a professional, like a lawyer, before giving a recorded statement.
Sometimes, your contract with your insurance company requires that you notify them of any accident within a specific time. Your insurance adjuster needs to assess the situation and start building your claim.
You don’t want to make it harder to recover any compensation due to your delay. Some complications may not arise immediately after the accident, so you want to ensure you get the coverage you deserve.
Get a Medical Evaluation
Even if you did not suffer any visible injury, you still need to get yourself checked out in a medical facility. Some injuries may be internal, and some take days, weeks, or even months to manifest.
Car accidents often cause soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries are injuries to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. They may show up as back pain, whiplash, swelling, and numbness.
Even if the car accident seems minor, keep records of everything. You may need them in your insurance claim process, or if there is a lawsuit. Keep the following records:
- - Police report in connection with the accident
- - Report of the evaluation of the damage to the vehicle and expenses
- - Any medical report and any visit to any health professionals, including the expenses
- - A detailed account of any time you took off work because of the injuries or to get treatment, and the lost income
- - Records of any mental or emotional stress you suffered because of the accident
Call a Car Accident Attorney
After you report the accident to your insurance company, consult a car accident attorney immediately. Even if everything seems to be going smoothly and you are certain of getting compensation, it is still a good idea to work with a car crash attorney.
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney has its advantages. Remember, you are dealing with insurance companies who will do everything in their power to avoid paying any compensation or pay as little as possible.
This is because they may be eager to pay you off and avoid complications that may arise later. An experienced car crash attorney will help you file your car accident insurance claim and guide you to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
The car accident attorneys at D’Amore Personal Injury Law know how to handle car accident insurance claims, including insurance companies. We will work to help restore normalcy to your life as much as possible following the accident. Contact us today to see if you have a case.