Being involved in a car accident can be overwhelming, but successfully recovering damages depends on your actions after the crash. That’s why every driver should know the first steps to take after they’re in an accident. Knowing what to do can significantly protect your claim.
Your Accident Scene Checklist
Especially if your accident involves bodily injury, property damage, or both, every step you take in the hours after a car crash may be of great importance. Even a small mistake could affect whether you recover adequately for your medical bills, car repair costs, and lost wages. Here is a brief look at those important steps:
- Stay at the scene of the crash. Your first instinct after a car accident may be to leave the scene. Perhaps you were on your way to an important event or appointment. Or maybe you just feel scared. However, it’s critical that you stay and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
- Limit communication with the at-fault driver. You want to ensure that you, your passengers, the other driver, and his passengers are not in immediate danger, but it’s important that you do not say more than is necessary. For example, do not apologize or say anything that could be taken as an admission of responsibility for the accident. Simply ask the other driver for contact information, registration, insurance, and vehicle details.
- Call law enforcement. Calling the police not only brings order to the accident scene, but it also inserts an objective third party into the situation. Police will be able to direct traffic away from the crash, speak with you and the other driver, take official statements, and make an objective report.
- Call for medical help. If you can, call 911 immediately. Not only will this help others, but if you are hurt, it will become important to your injury claim later on—to show insurance companies that your injury is a priority. If your injuries are too severe, law enforcement will make this call for you.
- Document pertinent evidence. If you were not immobilized or otherwise seriously hurt by the crash, you should use your cell phone to take photos and videos of the accident—making sure to get the details of the exterior and interior damage to your vehicle. Additionally, you should take notes about what happened while the memory is still fresh in your head. Finally, speak to anyone who may have witnessed the accident, take notes of his account, and record his contact information.
- Call your insurance company. You will want to alert your own insurance company that you were involved in an accident. Even if the other driver was definitely at fault, your company will want to know of the forthcoming claim. Additionally, you may need to utilize some features of your own policy if the other driver's insurance policy isn't sufficient to cover your losses.
What to Do in the Days After the Crash
Protecting your claim doesn’t end when you leave the scene of the crash. The following days and weeks after your injury will also be important, so make sure to:
- Call a lawyer. As soon as you can after the accident, call an attorney who can represent you properly. Handling your case alone is risky.
- Obtain a copy of the police report. This will help your lawyer during your accident claim.
- Keep receipts. It’s possible you’ll have payment receipts from rental cars, car repairs, and a tow truck. Keep these, so you can be compensated for them later.
- Attend all required doctor appointments. Again, prioritizing your injury after a crash shows insurance companies that you take your injury seriously. So, attend all doctor visits, take all prescribed medications, and follow rest instructions.
- Avoid conversation with insurance agents. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will call you and ask for a recorded statement after the accident. Politely decline, and simply refer them to your attorney.
Don’t Handle Your Claim Alone
As soon as you can after your crash, call an experienced attorney. The legal team at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi can walk you through these important steps, advise you on the details of your case, and advocate for you in settlement negotiations or even court. To have one of our attorneys review your case, give us a call today.