Being in a car accident, even a minor one, can be a traumatic experience. The adrenaline, stress, physical strain and financial worry that manifests in an instant is unfortunately, only the beginning of a long process in recovering from this challenging life event. But what should you do immediately after a car crash? Here are some tips:
In This Section
Seek Medical Treatment at an Emergency Room
If you did not receive medical treatment at the accident scene, it is advisable to go to the emergency room to let doctors examine you to determine the extent of your injuries. Even if you think they are small at the time, your injuries could be much worse than you anticipate, and the medications that they give you at the hospital ER may actually keep your injuries from getting worse. Also, for you to get benefits under your own insurance, you have to get treatment within 14 days of the crash. Going to an ER would fulfill this requirement.
Document the Accident in Writing
When you get home, write down everything that you remember about the accident, including comments made by the other driver and witnesses, while it is still fresh in your mind. Include all of the information that you gathered and explain your version of how the accident happened. Sketching the accident scene and diagramming how the collision occurred can help you to remember important details later on. Keep in mind that it may be months or even years before the insurance company resolves the claim, and your attorney will need this information immediately to get the case moving. This information can also prove crucial in winning your case.
You should take photographs of your car at the scene of the accident and get photos of the damage to your car that is under any plastic bumper covers. These covers do exactly that, cover the damage. Many times, I have had cases where there is over five to ten thousand dollars of damage to a client’s car, but the plastic bumper cover only shows pain scratches. Also, while at the accident scene, make sure you not only get photos of your car, but of the vehicle that caused the crash. This can be crucial information to demonstrate the forces involved in your crash and can be very important to getting your case settled.
Do Not Speak With Any Insurance Company, Even Your Own
Your insurance company requires that you notify them as soon as possible after an accident. HOWEVER, your attorney can and should do this for you, so let them do this, as anything you tell even your own insurance company can be twisted to be used against you. This will protect you from any dirty insurance company tricks. Protecting you from the games that insurance companies play is one of the reasons it is important to hire an attorney right away.
Other Reasons to Call a Personal Injury Attorney Right After a Crash
It is also important to keep in mind that the initial consultation with the attorney is free, and the attorney will only collect a percentage of the claim that you receive at the end of your case; thus, they do not get paid unless you get paid. Also remember that insurance companies (yours or theirs) are interested in paying as little as possible for your injuries. One of the first things that they will do is request a statement from you, and without consultation, you may end up saying something that could harm your case. An attorney will make sure that you are entitled to fair and appropriate compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will also act on your behalf in negotiations with the insurance company, making sure that your rights are protected. Finally, hiring an attorney will show the insurance companies that you are serious about your claim and you are willing to use the legal system to force them to pay you a fair amount for your lost wages, medical bills and for the human damages, the pain and suffering damages that you have gone through and will go through due to no fault of your own.