Car accidents happen every single day and for many reasons. In a recent year alone, 6,725,000 reported crashes occurred in the U.S. Collisions range in severity but frequently leave victims facing injuries, property damage, and mounting bills.
After a car accident, it is not uncommon to feel disoriented and unsure of what to do. The frustration usually builds in the days after your accident, as you begin to wonder how you’ll recover physically and financially from your collision.
Below are the ideal steps to take after a car accident. When in doubt, consult with a skilled car accident attorney in your area as soon as possible after your collision.
What You Do After a Car Accident Can Affect Your Claim?
First and foremost, it is essential to understand that what you do following your car accident can positively or negatively impact your claim and ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Many fail to realize the effect their actions can have until it is too late, and they cannot pursue or receive maximum financial recovery for their injuries and losses.
Don’t put yourself in an uncompromising position. Think thoroughly before acting, and always follow recommendations from doctors and your car accident attorney.
What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
The minutes following your accident are scary and confusing. Try to remain calm and follow these steps.
Call for Help
Stop for a moment and assess your injuries and anyone else’s in the car with you. Afterward, call 911 to request police and emergency medical services.
Get Emergency Medical Assistance
Whether you feel pain or see any visible injuries, it is always good to get medical help after an accident. EMTs can check for any possible injuries, as they know what to look for.
Begin Gathering Evidence
If possible, begin gathering evidence soon after the accident.
Evidence can include:
- Photos and videos of the scene and the vehicles
- The other driver’s contact and insurance information
- Witness contact information
- Police officer’s names and badge numbers
This evidence can later help your case. If you’ve sustained injuries and cannot collect evidence, ask someone to do it for you.
Report Your Accident to Your Insurance Company
There might be a specific time that insurance companies require their insurers to notify them of a collision. However, you should always aim to notify your insurer as soon as possible so they may begin the claims process. You want to have your attorney handle this notification for you.
One of the most important things your insurer will do after an accident is to assign an insurance adjuster to your claim. Your claims adjuster is your point of contact. They'll be in charge of your claim from start to finish and handle certain aspects of your claim, including investigating the accident and determining the value of your claim.
What To Do In the Days After Your Car Accident?
After taking care of the preliminary steps, you’ll need to continue focusing on your physical recovery and ways to aid your claim to seek maximum compensation for your injuries.
Start Collecting Relevant Information and Documentation
The more information you gather, the better for your case. In the days after your accident, start a file to document relevant details.
This can include:
- Keeping a journal documenting your injuries, pain level, and treatment
- Documenting missed days at work
- Calculating lost wages due to your inability to work
This type of information can help your car accident lawyer calculate the value of your case.
The Importance of Medical Attention After an Accident
After an accident, you should always put your health and safety at the forefront. Not only can this get you on the path to physical recovery, but medical treatment and documentation play a vital role in car accident cases.
If you’ve sustained injuries in a collision, you’ll be left to deal with the frustration of your injuries and likely have subsequent medical and rehabilitation bills. You may also have to take time off work, causing you to lose an income. When pursuing financial compensation, your lawyer will have to consider all of these details to assign a value to your case.
The minute you get medical attention after an accident, your healthcare providers should document every detail in your medical records. These medical records are solid proof of your injuries and their severity. Without this documentation, it can be harder to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Therefore, if your car accident attorney advises you to seek medical attention or additional medical treatment, they’re advising you for a reason. Your lawyer’s goal is to build a strong and substantial case on your behalf, and medical documentation plays one of the biggest parts.
Follow Through With Medical Treatment
You not only have to seek medical attention, but you also have to complete medical treatment. Listen to your physician’s instructions and recommendations, as they know the best steps to meet your physical recovery goals.
If you abandon your medical treatment plan and don’t complete it, it can affect how well you recover. Additionally, your medical records will reflect an incomplete medical treatment, which will never fare well for you and your claim.
The healthcare professionals taking care of your physical recovery will document everything in your medical records, but it helps to keep records. Anything you feel can be relevant to your recovery and claim, including progress toward recovery, can help your lawyer when building your case.
What NOT to Do After a Car Accident?
While it is important to remember what to do after a car accident, it is equally as important to know what not to do.
Fail to Call the Police
When you call 911, police are dispatched to the scene of your accident. There are many reasons car accidents go unreported, whether someone feels their injuries are not serious enough or they fear it will increase their car insurance. Nonetheless, law enforcement is critical for your claim, as they assess your accident and detail their findings in a police report. Police reports can provide many answers, including who is liable.
Fail to File a Claim With Your Insurer
Insurance companies require their policyholders to notify them of any accidents involving their insured vehicle. If you fail to notify your insurer within a reasonable time, they can use this to deny coverage for your accident. They may also have the right to terminate your policy, leaving you without car insurance.
Assume You’re Fine and Not Get Medical Attention
In many cases, individuals walk away from a car accident thinking they’ve sustained no injuries. Still, this often proves to be a mistake.
When you go through a traumatic experience like a car accident, your body releases a chemical called adrenaline as a way to protect you. Adrenaline can work to mask any pain you might otherwise feel from resulting injuries. Therefore, immediately after an accident, you may feel like you’re completely fine, but injuries may be hiding behind your adrenaline rush.
The more you prolong getting medical attention, the worse your injuries can become. As soon as possible after your accident, visit an emergency room, urgent care, or your primary care physician. A thorough examination can reveal the extent of your injuries, giving the doctor the answers they need to put you on a medical treatment plan.
Never assume you’re okay after an accident. Always seek medical care as soon as possible.
Speak With the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
After an accident, it is routine for the other driver’s insurer to contact you for a recorded statement. The insurer wants to ask you questions and get your side of the story. While this may seem innocent enough, do not speak to anyone else’s insurance company.
Insurance companies reach out to discuss the accident with you, but they’ll try to use whatever you say against you. They’re looking to twist your words in a way to limit their liability and avoid paying. Therefore, you should think twice before discussing your accident with an insurer other than your own.
If you’re contacted by another insurance company asking for a statement, simply tell them you cannot speak with them until you’ve consulted with your lawyer.
Accept a Settlement Offer Right Away
The other driver’s insurance company is trying to close your claim as quickly as possible while paying you as little as they can. They will likely provide you with a settlement offer in hopes you will accept it. Once you accept a settlement offer, you cannot go back and change your mind later.
Many individuals make the mistake of accepting the insurance company’s settlement offer with little to no negotiation. This can be dangerous, as accepting an insurance company’s settlement offer usually means settling for much less than your case is actually worth.
To avoid getting an unfair settlement amount, it’s always best to have the help of a lawyer. A car accident attorney knows how to accurately calculate what your case is worth and won’t settle for less.
Not Discuss Your Case With a Lawyer
After a car accident, you will undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. No one is better equipped to answer your questions and provide guidance than a car accident attorney.
A lawyer will review the details of your case to determine the best course of action, putting you in a favorable position to pursue financial compensation.
Assume You Have an Unlimited Amount of Time to File a Lawsuit
Statutes of limitations exist to limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. Every state’s statute is different but typically only gives plaintiffs two to four years to file their claim.
The time clock begins to run on the day of your accident. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the allotted time, you’ll forfeit your right to compensation. This is why it is crucial to begin working on your case as quickly as possible to avoid complications in the future.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney—Is It Necessary?
If you wish to handle your car accident claim alone, you are fully in your right to do so. However, having a car accident lawyer handle your case gives you a substantially better chance of reaching a fair outcome. People who handle their claims without legal representation regularly emerge with far less compensation than they need to cover their past and future losses.
Handing a car accident claim requires knowledge of the law and procedures in your area. To pursue maximum compensation, you should also know how to determine how much your case is worth, which can be challenging.
Often, individuals handling their claims settle for much less than their case is worth because they're unaware of how much they deserve. Insurance companies prey on these individuals, making them believe if they don't accept their settlement offer, they may walk away with nothing.
Put yourself in the best position possible to get what you deserve. A car accident lawyer can help protect your rights and seek financial recovery on your behalf.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Assist You After a Collision?
When you hire a car accident attorney, you trust them to handle every aspect of your case.
Your lawyer will handle your claim from start to finish, including:
- Addressing your concerns
- Providing legal guidance
- Investigating your accident
- Interviewing witnesses and experts
- Gathering evidence and documentation
- Calculating your damages
- Communicating with the other side
- Engaging in settlement negotiations
- Representing you at trial, if necessary
Whether your claim settles quickly or requires a lawsuit and trial, rest assured your lawyer is doing everything in their power to protect your interests and get you the financial compensation you deserve.
Discuss Your Case with a Qualified Car Accident Attorney in Your Area
After a collision, you are never alone. An experienced attorney can get you the resolution you need. As soon as possible after your accident, consult a car accident lawyer in your area.