The effects of a car accident on the lives of those involved are bad enough on their own. However, those negative effects are compounded when, in the moments after the incident, decisions are made that don’t optimize protecting the involved parties. Preventing these compounding issues is the best course of action. That’s why it’s important to know what to do after a car accident.
The consultation of legal professionals like Desiah Law Firm can go a long way in these matters. Because they’ve handled cases of all sorts, and have seen a wide range of results and different scenarios, they can be trusted to guide you in the right direction.
Let’s have a look at exactly what things you’ll want to remember to do after a car accident has taken place. These most responsible courses of action can be the difference between protecting yourself, complying with legal requirements, and expediting the insurance claims process.
Lead with Safety
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, safety is the number one priority. When it’s relevant, move your vehicle to a location free from hazards as soon as you can. The shoulder of the road is a good example. Use hazard lights to tell others where you are.
Should your vehicle be inoperable or if anyone is injured, dial 911 to request emergency help.
Exercise vigilance in monitoring the health of everyone involved, and be prepared in case CPR or first aid is an appropriate course of action. Leave people alone unless it absolutely cannot be helped that they need to be moved.
Collect Contact Information
Following everyone had been moved into safe spaces, get ready to collect contact information and more. All parties involved should get our contact info, and you theirs. Names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance information, and vehicle registration details should all be included.
Be as polite and disarming as possible. Under no circumstances should you admit fault for making statements that could be used against you. Say less in general. Look for witnesses to the crash and collect their contact information. Witness statements are valuable to have because they could be used to gain leverage during the claims process.
Document the Scene
Documenting the scene of the incident is an integral step in the right direction. It’s crucial for insurance matters and potential legal proceedings. With a smartphone or camera, take pictures of any relevant traffic signals or signs, vehicles on the scene, license plates, the surrounding area, and the scene overall.
Be sure that shot angles are varied to showcase a more comprehensive overview of the scene. Likewise, document the details of weather conditions, the time of day, and anything else that could’ve played a role in the events in question.
Touch Bases with Law Enforcement
There are multiple municipalities within the US where calling the police after a car accident is obligatory. This is true for minor incidents also. Official police reports have proven helpful once insurance proceedings begin, and can even sometimes come in handy if no settlement is reached and trial proceedings are necessary.
Upon the arrival of officers to the scene, share with them the details of how the accident happened. Balance out the sharing of details with brevity and the accuracy of truth. Say less and only state the plain and simple facts. Collect a copy of the police report.
Be Seen By a Medical Professional ASAP
Some people risk bleeding to death internally after having been in a car accident. Don’t be one of those people. Even when you’re certain that you’re uninjured, get checked out by a doctor anyway.
Being seen immediately by a doctor helps you protect more than your health. Medical documentation of your post-crash condition is also valuable for having the upper hand during the insurance claim process. Medical records provide valid evidence of how the incident may have impacted you.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Get in touch with your insurance company and inform them about the accident. As with the police, use brevity and caution about what you say, but be sure you’re telling the truth. Comply with any requests to submit relevant documents. Take the ID number of the agent you speak with. Successfully reporting the accident prevents complications in the claims process.
Evidence Handling and Preservation
Be as organized as you are thorough. All documents, purports, medical records, repairs and estimates, and communications revolving around that incident in question should be tucked away someplace safe and secure. Once you meet with your attorney, hand over this information to them. This usually wins you extra favor with your attorney, but it also ensures efficiency.
Consult with an Experienced Attorney
It’s highly advisable in almost all car crashes to hire a lawyer who specializes in personal injuries; specifically car crashes. This is especially true for crashes where people are injured and or when the claims process becomes the subject of dispute.
A seasoned attorney can provide insightful guidance on your rights, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and represent you in legal proceedings if necessary. Having legal support can be particularly valuable when dealing with complex cases or when fault is disputed.
Avoid Social Media and Talking About the Accident
An old idiom states: “Loose lips sink ships”. There are many examples of people compromising the integrity of their insurance claims with foolish social media activity or pillow talk. Don’t be one of those people. Avoid social media and don’t talk to anyone about the accident until after you’ve settled.
Insurance companies and opposing legal parties are known to monitor social media accounts in search of whatever they can use to achieve their ends. Information that can be used against you, will be used against you.
Trusting the process will get many of us through some of life’s toughest challenges. Embracing the challenge of following these instructions after a crash is a tough challenge in its own right, but it’s better than the alternative. Protect your health, rights, and recovery options with the help of a car accident attorney, and these vital actions.