The 10 Most Important Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
After a car accident, the steps you take matter. Not only do you want to increase your odds of making a full recovery as much as possible, you want to make sure that you take the necessary steps to protect your finances and your right to follow a personal injury claim after the accident. Did you suffer serious injuries in a car accident? Make sure you follow these steps to protect yourself and your finances as much as possible.
1. Do not leave the scene of the accident.
You’re in a hurry. You have somewhere you need to be, things you need to do, and a lot of things on your plate. If you have a car accident, however, you should never leave the scene of the accident until the police arrive. Even if you did not cause the accident, you can face charges for leaving the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene can also make it impossible for you to tell your side of the story.
Only in very specific circumstances can you legally leave the scene of the accident: if you must leave to seek medical attention for a medical emergency, or if you do not feel safe at the scene of the accident. Under those circumstances, you may choose to notify the police of your intent to leave the scene of the accident and tell them where to find you.
2. Report the accident.
Call 911 to report the accident and, if needed, to summon an ambulance to provide medical care. Most of the time, a police officer will respond to the scene of the accident and write a report that includes the time and place of the accident as well as any evidence the officer can collect at the scene. The accident report may also establish fault in the accident, which can prove incredibly valuable later.
3. Avoid accepting any fault in the accident.
While you should provide an accurate version of events to the police officer that responds to the scene of the accident, avoid statements that accept fault for the accident. Do not tell the officer that you accept fault. Do not brush off the other driver’s liability or attempt to share the blame, especially if you did not contribute to the accident. If you accept fault at the scene of the accident, it could later leave you liable for damages associated with the accident or prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve in a personal injury claim.
4. Collect photographic evidence if you can do so safely.
The evidence you collect after your accident can provide a valuable foundation for a future personal injury claim. If you can move safely around the scene of the accident without worsening your injuries, take the time to snap some pictures of the accident scene. You may want to take pictures of:
- Your vehicle, especially the damage to it
- The position of the two vehicles, especially if you did not have to move them after the accident
- Your injuries
- Any features that contributed to the accident
5. Exchange information with the other driver.
Collect information from the other driver involved in the accident. The police report from the accident will contain this information, but it can prove easier to access information that you collected yourself. Getting the other driver’s insurance information and a picture of the driver’s license can make it easier for you to provide information to your insurance company.
6. Seek medical attention.
Following a serious accident, always go to the hospital or to an urgent care facility, even if you believe that you did not suffer serious injury. Let a doctor check you out to ensure that you did not suffer more injuries than you think. Keep in mind that adrenaline may fade slowly after an accident, preventing many victims from feeling the pain of even serious injuries. If you do not seek medical care, you may not notice your injuries immediately.
Seeking medical attention also provides evidence of when your injuries took place. If you later need to file a personal injury claim, the report from the hospital can help establish the timing on the accident and your injuries, which can prevent the other party from trying to claim that you suffered your injuries at another point in time.
7. Create an accurate record of the events that led up to the accident.
Memory fades quickly, especially after traumatic events. Often, that can make it very difficult for you to piece back together the events that led to the accident, especially if some time passes before you attempt to put that record together. Take the time to create an accurate record of the accident. Write it down, record it in an app on your phone, or have someone else write it down for you. The sooner you create this record, the more accurate it is likely to be, and the greater the likelihood that you will be able to accurately recreate as many of the events leading to the accident as possible.
8. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
In many cases, you may need to wait before you file a personal injury claim. It can take time to investigate the events that led to the accident, and a personal injury attorney may recommend waiting until you have an accurate idea of what your recovery will eventually look like before filing your claim, especially if you suffered serious injury. Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon after the accident as possible, however, can provide you with a roadmap of how to proceed as you navigate a personal injury claim after a serious accident. An attorney can also provide you with valuable advice that can help maximize the compensation you can receive after an accident.
9. Notify your insurance company.
You will need to notify both your health insurance company and your auto insurance company about your accident. Your health insurance company can provide you with vital information about your coverage and what treatment options you have after your accident, while your auto insurance company can help you move forward with your vehicle claim, including getting your vehicle repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Make sure you ask any questions you have about your coverage, especially if you have serious injuries from your accident.
10. Follow your doctors’ instructions.
Seeking medical care does not just mean going to the hospital and getting an accurate picture of your injuries. It also means that you follow the instructions your doctors give you. Those instructions help maximize your recovery. If you fail to follow those instructions, not only can it limit your recovery, it can prevent you from receiving the full funds you deserve for your injuries, since the liable party may claim that you did not take the steps needed to recover after your accident.
Navigating a car accident can prove difficult, especially if you have never had one before or you have serious injuries from the accident. Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC can help. Contact us today for a consultation about your accident or more information about the steps you need to take, whether you suffered injuries in a rideshare accident or an accident with a private driver.