What Should I Do Right After a Car Accident?
A car accident can be a scary and emotionally trying experience. In the immediate aftermath, it is common to feel dazed, confused, and even overwhelmed. Yet the actions you take in the minutes, hours, and days to follow can make a significant difference in the outcome of your claim. If you are involved in an accident and relatively uninjured, follow the steps below. Of course, your health and safety is the top priority, so if you are seriously injured, seek medical attention right away.
Immediately after the accident, take a moment to assess your surroundings. Check on everyone who was involved and encourage them to move to safety. Ask a witness or passerby to help secure the scene to avoid additional accidents. If you are properly trained, consider performing any needed first aid.
Contact Law Enforcement
Call 911 or ask someone nearby to do so. If there are possible injuries, request an ambulance. Even if no one is hurt, it is important to make a police report, as insurance may not pay for damages from an unreported accident.
Get the full names, phone numbers, and addresses of everyone involved as well as any witnesses. The more complete the information you can provide to your insurance company, the more quickly you are likely to get a resolution. Be sure to get the other driver’s insurance information as well as full contact information for the vehicle owner, if applicable.
Write down everything you can think of that might be relevant to the accident. List the date, time, weather conditions, and even level of illumination. Note any obviously preexisting damage to any involved vehicle. Mention any contributing factors such as a malfunctioning traffic light. Write down exactly what you were doing in the moments before the accident, from starting a left turn to proceeding through a yellow light. To the best of your ability, describe what you saw the other vehicle do in those moments. If anyone claims responsibility for the accident, note that person’s words as precisely as possible.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is particularly true in a car accident case. Take photos of the damage from several angles. Photograph skid marks, as well as any possible contributing factors such as a construction zone or flashing yellow traffic light. Also photograph all involved vehicles’ license plates.
Seek Medical Attention
If you are seriously injured, you will likely travel by ambulance to the nearest hospital. Even if you feel all right, however, it is best to get checked out within 24 hours. Some injuries take a day or two to manifest symptoms, or that mild pain in your back could turn out to be something more severe. If you are injured, your insurance company will seek proof that you sought medical attention in a timely manner.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. Openly discussing the details of the accident with your own insurer is necessary to ensure that you receive all of the benefits of your policy. However, you should never speak to the other driver’s insurance company without legal advice. Insurance companies are, by nature, contentious, and the statements you make could prevent you from receiving the compensation that you deserve.
Consult a Legal Professional
Unless it was a minor accident with no injuries, and you are fully comfortable with your own insurer’s handling of the situation, it is always best to consult a legal professional. There are multiple layers of extremely complex laws and regulations that govern car accidents, and it is difficult to know what your rights actually are. Many insurance companies are eager to settle for less than a claim is worth, while others drag their feet for months or even years before victims ever see a penny. A competent car accident attorney can assess your case, let you know whether a settlement offer is reasonable, and even file suit if needed. You will not owe a dime unless you collect damages, so why not seek the legal advice that you need?
If you are ready to move forward with a caring and compassionate Canton attorney who is committed to getting you the compensation that you deserve, call Zachary Elliott today at (903) 567-4515. You pay nothing unless we win.