Nearly everyone is involved in a car accident at some point in their life. When it happens, you need to take quick action to protect yourself legally.
This involves prioritizing safety, thoroughly documenting the scene, seeking medical attention immediately, promptly notifying your insurance company, preserving evidence, and consulting an attorney.
Call the Police
When a car accident occurs, there are several important things that must be done right away to protect your legal rights. One of the most important is to call the police. Even if the damage seems minimal and nobody was hurt, it is still important to have the authorities present to make a report. There are many reasons why this is essential, including making sure that everyone is safe and avoiding future complications with the insurance company.
Sometimes, the other driver might try to persuade you not to call the police. They might say that the accident was minor, and they want to handle things between themselves and you. This is usually a red flag, and they are often hiding something – they might not have insurance, they may be drunk or have other reasons to avoid having police involved in the accident.
Leaving the scene of a car accident is illegal in most states. Some people might try to do this in order to avoid having the police present, but it can lead to some harsh consequences, both civil and criminal. Besides, it is always better to be cautious than to take such risks.
It is also important to seek medical attention at the accident scene. This is also an important step to protect your legal rights as it will create a medical record of the injuries you sustained, strengthening your case in any potential legal proceedings. Some injuries, such as internal bleeding and whiplash, might not appear right away, but they can become worse over time.
After ensuring that everybody is safe, you should write down your observations and take pictures of the cars and the scene of the crash from multiple angles. This will be extremely useful when it comes to filing an insurance claim and establishing fault in the accident.
Car accidents are chaotic events and the moments immediately following a crash are often confusing. However, these are important moments because they allow you to gather evidence that can later help protect your legal rights and financial interests.
While it may be tempting to leave the scene after a wreck, you should always stay put and wait for police officers to arrive. Police officers will collect information from drivers and witnesses about the accident to prepare an official report, which can prove extremely useful in a legal dispute or trial. If you want to learn more, check out gruber-law.com.
If you are physically able, take photographs with your smartphone or camera of the accident scene (so long as you don’t put yourself at further risk). Try to capture as much detail as possible such as damage to both vehicles, license plates, the position of other cars, weather conditions and road markings. It’s also a good idea to record the surrounding area including how visibility was affected by other buildings, trees and traffic signals.
Exchange contact and insurance details with all parties involved in the crash. You should get the other driver’s name, address, phone number and insurance company details – as well as their vehicle registration, license and insurance documentation. Make sure that you take down witness names and contact details too. It can be hard to remember what happened right after a crash, but it is important that you tell the police officers the truth and stick to your version of events.
Even if you think that your injuries are minor, it is essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible after the crash. Not only does this ensure that you are properly treated for your injuries, but it will also prevent insurers from claiming that your injuries weren’t as serious as you claim or that they were caused by something else.
You should also keep records of all medical treatments. This can help if you are required to file an application for no-fault benefits and your insurer tries to argue that the injuries weren’t as severe as you claim.
See a Doctor
Car accident injuries can be very serious, but victims often forget to see a doctor right away. This is due to the shock of the incident, as well as an assumption that their pain and symptoms will subside on their own or be minor. In reality, it is essential to get medical attention after a car accident, not only for your health but also for your legal claim.
You should always visit your primary care physician within 72 hours of the crash, but if you cannot find an immediate appointment, go to an emergency room or urgent care facility. These doctors are specially trained to treat patients with trauma-related injuries, and they will be able to document your injuries for the insurance company.
Your medical records are the most important evidence you will have in your case, and if you wait to visit a doctor, it may appear to the insurance company that your injuries are not as severe as they really are. Additionally, it is important to disclose any pre-existing injuries or conditions to your doctor so that they can make sure that your treatment is properly documented.
If you do not go to the doctor, the insurance company will assume that your pain and symptoms are not related to the accident and will refuse to pay for any of your expenses. In addition, some states have laws that require you to see a doctor within a certain time period in order to qualify for PIP coverage or a settlement from an insurance company.
While it can be difficult to find primary care physicians who will treat car accident victims, if you call your personal injury attorney right after the incident, they should be able to help you locate a doctor in your area who will do so. In the meantime, be sure to take as many photos and videos of your injuries, property damage, and the scene of the accident as possible, including skid marks or damaged guardrails.
If you have any friends or family members who were in the accident, ask them to jot down their names and contact information so that they can serve as witnesses to your case. Witness statements can be extremely helpful in determining fault and obtaining compensation for your losses.
Contact an Attorney
Car accidents happen, and when they do it is important that you take the necessary steps to protect your rights. This includes calling the police, gathering information and seeking medical attention. It is also a good idea to contact an attorney. An attorney can assist with a variety of things including filing an insurance claim and even a lawsuit in the event of serious injury or significant property damage.
An attorney can work with the insurance agency on your behalf to make sure that you are properly represented. They will be aware of common tactics used by insurance companies to downplay injuries or to try and establish that you partly caused the accident.
If you receive a call from the other driver or their insurance company, do not talk to them. They are trying to get you to say something that will be used against you in the future. The best thing to do is to tell them that you will speak with your lawyer and refer them to that person.
Document the scene of the accident as thoroughly as possible. This may include taking photos or video footage if it is safe to do so, as well as taking notes about the incident. This will help to refresh your memory about the accident later and can be very useful in building a case against the other party if you decide to file an insurance claim or lawsuit.
You should also keep track of all medical bills, receipts or estimates for repairs to your vehicle and any other costs related to the accident. This will help to prove the extent of your damages and losses.
Another benefit of having an attorney is that they will know what laws apply to your situation and how the courts are likely to interpret them. This can save you a lot of time as you would otherwise have to research the laws yourself.
An experienced attorney will also be able to provide guidance on what documents you need to gather and what other evidence might be needed in your case. This can prevent you from committing errors that could be costly in the long run.