There are six million car accidents in the country every year. As a result of these accidents, approximately three million people are injured.
If you are injured in a car accident, you could end up missing work and struggling with expensive medical bills. If you decide to take legal action against the negligent party, the compensation you receive could help cover your losses.
Here are five steps you need to take immediately after a car accident. How you react after the crash could make or break your legal case.
1. Make Sure You’re Safe
You might feel disoriented and shaky after a car crash. That’s normal. Take a deep breath and try to focus. Then, turn your hazard lights on, and if possible, pull your vehicle into a safe space, out of the way of traffic.
If you smell leaking gas, get out of your car immediately. If you don’t think it’s safe to drive your car, simply leave it where it is. If you’re not sure about where to move your car, you can wait until the police arrive.
Regardless, put your personal safety above all else.
Also, make sure to remain at the scene of the car crash. Leaving the scene could put you at risk. It could also make it difficult for you to later file a claim.
If you leave a car accident in which someone was injured or killed, you could find yourself in significant legal trouble. So stay where you are and try to remain calm.
In the meantime, assess your injuries. Were you hurt enough to need medical attention? If so, call 911 so they can send emergency responders.
If you’re okay to move, you can check on the other drivers involved in the crash, to see if they’re safe. But don’t get into conversations with them regarding the accident.
In many cases, you won’t feel pain from an injury until a few days after the crash. That’s because your adrenaline is usually working overtime right after a wreck. This might prevent you from feeling pain or realizing you’ve been injured until after you’ve calmed down. This could be hours or even days later.
Consider going to the emergency room, visiting your family doctor, or perhaps an urgent care clinic. This will help determine if you have any injuries, and how they need to be addressed.
2. Call the Police
After moving your car to safety, call the police and let them know you were in a car crash. In some states, including Tennessee, you are legally required to report the accident.
The police will take an accident report, which will help an attorney when evaluating your legal case. This report will detail what happened, document all parties involved, and provide information that an attorney’s office will need.
Also, try to get the investigating officer’s name and badge number, as well as the report number so that you can obtain a copy when it is ready.
While You Wait
Avoid small talk while you wait for the police to arrive. Also, it’s essential that you don’t offer your opinion about what caused the crash. Instead, exchange the necessary information and wait for the police to arrive.
The less you say regarding the crash, the better.
3. Gather the Facts
While you wait for the police to assess the car wreck, collect the information you need for your claim. For example, you’ll need the other driver’s:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Insurance information
Next, take a look around. Gather information about details regarding the auto accident (what happened both before and after). For example:
- The date and time of the accident
- Where the accident occurred
- The road you were on
- The nearest cross street
- Which direction you and the other car were traveling
- The driving conditions
- Your recollection of what happened
In the days after the wreck, you’ll likely forget certain details of what happened. So try to take these notes while you’re still on the scene. That way, you will have the facts and what you remember documented while they’re still fresh in your memory. If you can’t take notes at the scene, try and do it as soon as you are back home, after the wreck.
Did anyone else witness the crash? Take down their contact information as well. Your attorney can contact them later to get their account of what happened.
Lastly, try to get as many photos as you can. Your insurance company will want photo evidence when you make your claim. Try and take photos of the following:
- How and where the cars are located
- Where on the street the accident occurred
- Signs of the closest crossroads
- Property damage
4. Contacting Insurance Companies
After the car accident, you’ll also want to contact your insurance company. Even though you may not be at fault, you need to let them know that you were in a wreck, in case the other driver is uninsured. Your insurance company can also help provide your attorney with useful information about the other driver and any insurance they may have.
If you don’t hear from the at-fault party’s insurance company within a few days after the wreck, you should call them and let them know that you were involved in a wreck with one of their drivers.
When talking to the other insurance company, offer only the most basic information as possible. What’s more, if you are going to get an attorney involved, do NOT give a recorded statement. These usually come back to hurt your case, and can be used against you by the insurance company.
5. Call a Lawyer
If you received medical care for injuries related to the wreck, make sure to keep a record of your doctor or clinic visits, as well as medications and treatments you receive.
Then, call an attorney and talk to them about the wreck, your medical treatment, and any other information you think is important so they can evaluate your case.
Choosing a law office that is experienced in auto accident cases can help you get the compensation you are entitled to.
Drive Toward Compensation: 5 Steps to Take Following an Auto Accident
Car accidents happen every day. After you’re in a car accident, it’s important to take a breath and assess everything with a clear head. How you respond could make or break your claim.
And don’t forget to hire a lawyer who is highly experienced in auto accident cases. They’ll know how to maximize your compensation and walk you through the entire process. Contact us today for a free consultation.