Taking some basic steps after a car accident can make the difference between a legal claim that fails and one that provides fair compensation for you and your family. Here are some suggestions to guide your through the stressful time during and after an accident.
Check for Injuries and Stay out of Danger
- The most important thing is to take care of yourself and others. Before assessing the vehicle damage, make sure all parties involved are safe and out of danger.
- If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety, either on the side of the road or on a sidewalk. Turn off your engine and turn on your hazard lights to warn other vehicles to slow down.
Call Police and Stay Nearby
- Immediately report the accident and any injuries to the police by calling 911. Even if the damage is very minor, calling the police is an important and required step. Stay close to your vehicle until police arrive. If you or one of your passengers is seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident.
- To the best of your ability, remain calm and polite when speaking with other parties involved and the police.
- Do not apologize, take responsibility, or admit fault for the accident.
- Get the following information from the other driver(s):
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
- Year, make, model, and color of the vehicle(s)
- Car insurance company and policy number
- As soon as you are able, document and photograph damages to the vehicle(s) and any visible injuries. Often, photographs of injuries or damages are used to show the extent of the accident and could even help prove fault.
- Write down notes about how the accident occurred so you don’t forget any details, but share them only with your lawyer.
- Find witnesses to the accident and write down their contact information.
- Get the name and badge number of all responding officers.
- Request the police report to make sure all the facts are correct or get the report number. You might need the police report for insurance purposes and any errors could delay your injury-related claims.
Seek Medical Attention
Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries, even if you think they are minor. Minor injuries can worsen over time and turn into bigger issues down the road, so make sure you document any injuries you might have sustained in the accident.
Seek Legal Counsel
Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accident cases and one who is prepared to win your case by settlement, or if necessary, by court judgment. Your lawyer will protect your rights, and guide you through the entire process, including dealing with insurance companies and handling the paperwork.
Contact Your Insurance Company
- Report the accident to your insurer to open a claim. Your insurer could find fault based on your statements, so it is best to speak with a personal injury lawyer first if possible. Providing information, even details you believe to be unimportant, could be used in an effort to weaken your case.
- Do not give a signed or recorded statement to your insurer before talking with your lawyer.
- Do not discuss the accident with any representative of the other driver’s insurance company before talking with your lawyer.
Keep the Incident Private
Information about a serious car accident could be of interest to local media. It’s important not to discuss details of the accident with the media or share any information about the accident on social media.