Car accidents are scary, but figuring out what to do after one doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, by following a few time-proven steps you can rest assured that you and your rights will be adequately protected after a car accident.
To help you navigate the rapids that immediately follow a car accident, we’ve put together a list of the eight most important steps to take and preserve your rights. Of course, it goes without saying that seeking proper medical attention should be the highest priority, so be sure to have your injuries evaluated and treated before you start snapping photographs and collecting insurance information.
Take Plenty of Photographs
You’ll want to provide accurate documentation of the event, and photographs are the easiest way to do this.
Use your smartphone or camera to take plenty of pictures of the scene. Take photos from varying angles and be sure to include any damage that occurred to either vehicle. The insurance company can use these photos to support your claim.
Obtain Contact Information
Get the name, phone number, license plate number, insurance company name, and insurance policy number from the other driver involved in the accident.
If there are any witnesses, gather their names and phone numbers too. Their testimonies may be useful down the road.
Call the police
Whether or not anyone is seriously injured, the car accident should be reported. Depending on your state, it may even be the law.
Call the police to assess the scene. A police officer will take statements from all parties involved and file an accident report.
Give the police officer an accurate account of the facts to the best of your ability and be sure to mention if you are injured, but DO NOT admit fault (more on that later).
The police officer will give you a report number that you can use to obtain a copy of the police report at a later time. This report will help support your case and protect you down the line against any false claims.
Request a copy of the police report
Contact the police department to obtain a copy of the police report. This can be done by mail, online, or in person.
Depending on the police department, the police report may take a few business days before it’s available. Once you obtain the report, send a copy to your insurance company and keep a copy for your records. You may need to refer to it at a later time.
As the Miranda Rights state, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Even if the accident is obviously your fault, you should remain silent and avoid admitting guilt. This way you don’t inadvertently make a statement that can harm you later.
Speaking of statements, don’t provide or sign any statement from another party without an attorney present.
You should also have an attorney present when you talk to your insurance company. An attorney will advise you on what information you need to provide without admitting fault.
Contact an attorney
The legalities of a car accident can be complicated and confusing, so it’s always best to hire an attorney immediately.
Attorneys are the experts at hand. They know your rights and are your best line of defense for protecting them.
An attorney will review your case and guide you through the legal process. They can help make the most of your insurance claim, protect you from false claims, and handle a lawsuit should one arise.
If you’ve been injured in an accident due to the other party’s fault, an attorney may be able to help you recover money for medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, and emotional suffering.
Dealing with insurance companies is not only a hassle, but it can be nearly impossible. Let the attorney do the work for you, so you can focus on your health while your attorney delivers optimal results and peace of mind.
Seek medical treatment right away
If you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured, seek medical treatment immediately. Call 911 and wait for medical personnel to arrive.
It’s ideal if you can stay put after an accident, but if you or the injured party are able to move to a safe place, you should do so to prevent another accident.
It’s important to note that not all injuries are immediately noticeable. Sometimes it can take days before you even realize you’ve been injured during a car accident. That’s why it’s so important to seek medical treatment as soon as possible — so that the medical professional can document your injuries, and the insurance company can’t argue that you may have been injured in a separate incident after the accident in question.
Track your medical expenses
A trip to the emergency room, doctor visits, prescriptions, and physical therapy are just a few expenses you may incur after a car accident. These medical bills can add up quickly.
Keep track of all your medical expenses associated with the car accident. Write them down in a spreadsheet or file them in a folder. Having accurate documentation will aid you in obtaining the compensation you deserve.