No matter how good a driver you are, the odds are high that you’ll be in an accident at least once in your lifetime. What should you do if you’re in a car wreck? There are five steps you should take after being in a car accident, no matter where you are in the state when the car wreck happens or who is at fault.
Call for Emergency Services and Wait for Them
If someone is injured, call for emergency services like the police or an ambulance. Then remain at the scene since leaving before help arrives could leave you open to criminal charges. If you or your passenger thinks they’re mildly injured, ask to be checked out by an EMT. State law says you must report your injury within two weeks of the accident to receive benefits, and documentation from the accident scene is evidence in your favor.
If no one is obviously injured, you still want the police to come to the scene. The police report creates a neutral, third-party record of the accident. Their opinion as to who was at fault is invaluable when you fight for fair compensation later. Sometimes the investigating officer doesn’t file the report. In these cases, you are required to do so instead. You can file this report online or in writing.
Take pictures of the accident scene. Try to take pictures of the scene from all angles. If someone has been injured as a result of the accident, try to document this with pictures, as well. The photos can be used as evidence in your case.
After you have taken pictures, try to take notes about the events leading up to the accident. Document what the weather was like, the road conditions and anything that happened before and during the accident.
Exchange Contact Information with Everyone Involved
Exchange key contact information with the other person such as your name, address, and phone number. Get insurance information from them. You may want to take a picture of their insurance card so that you don’t make a mistake transcribing it. However, you need to keep all other interactions to a minimum, so you don’t end up incriminating yourself.
Take the time to get contact information from every possible witness. This can include other drivers who weren’t involved in the accident, pedestrians who witnessed the event, and passengers from the other vehicle. Again, you want their full legal names, addresses, and phone numbers because any of them could have valuable insight regarding the accident.
Hire an Attorney
If you were severely injured, you need to consult car accident lawyers. An attorney can gather the evidence you’ve collected along with medical bills, police reports, and other documentation to build your case. Your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement regarding your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and other costs. Conversely, you should never sign paperwork from the insurance company without having an attorney review it first.
Maintain Your Documentation
Keep an eye out for any new symptoms and seek medical attention if they arise. Keep copies of all medical bills, out of pocket expenses, and other costs that can be added to the lawyer’s tally and reimbursed as part of your settlement.
Car accidents are unfortunate. The pain and uncertainty leave many people rushing to try to resolve the situation and get back to normal, though most make mistakes in the process. Follow these key steps to minimize your odds of making a mistake.