Ultimately, what you do after a car accident depends on your circumstances. If you’re dealing with a life-altering condition, make your first priority healing. This may involve admitting yourself to the hospital, residing in a long-term care facility, or undergoing therapy.
If you can, take photos of the accident scene, your vehicle’s damage, and your external injuries. You should also secure prompt legal representation. A car accident attorney can build your case, negotiate a settlement, and help you navigate the post-accident landscape.
Call Emergency Services or the Local Authorities From the Accident Scene
To ensure the safety of yourself and others, call 911 immediately after the collision. Not all states require you to call the authorities after a car accident with minimal vehicle damage. However, most do.
If you cannot call the authorities, don’t worry; you generally have 10 business days to notify your local DMV of the incident. In certain states and some rural areas, a police officer will not come to the scene unless damage to vehicles exceeds a certain dollar amount or people suffer injuries. If authorities don’t come to your accident scene, check your local laws for crash reporting requirements.
You may have to file an accident report with the local authorities within a certain period following a car accident. Filing a crash report meets this requirement and provides you with evidence to support your car accident injury claim.
Seek Medical Attention Right Away After a Car Crash
If emergency responders believe your injuries are life-threatening, they will stabilize you and send you to the hospital in an ambulance. If your injuries are less serious, you should still go to the emergency room right away or call your doctor for an appointment within 24 hours. It’s not unusual for car accident injury victims to believe they’re uninjured, only to experience symptoms within a few days.
Injuries You Could Sustain in a Car Accident
Whiplash and traumatic brain injuries are especially notorious for showing few symptoms in the beginning and getting worse over time. Other injuries you could suffer in a car accident include spinal damage, broken bones, internal injuries, organ damage, burns, and lacerations.
Left untreated, many car accident conditions can worsen. Don’t risk your health and safety see a medical professional as soon as possible.
Follow the Doctor’s Instructions and Your Treatment Plan
Once your condition stabilizes, your doctor may prescribe a treatment regimen that includes medication, prosthetic equipment, assistive devices, and physical therapy. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan as prescribed, and use assistive devices, such as neck braces, walkers, canes, and wheelchairs as instructed.
Complete all physical and psychological therapy per your doctor’s orders, even if you start to feel better. Any deviation from your doctor’s instructions can undermine the severity of your injuries and reduce your car accident claim value.
Document the Site of the Car Accident With Photos and Video Footage
Once you are safe, and everyone has received emergency care, you should take steps to protect your right to financial recovery. If you can, take photos or videos of the accident scene, or have someone document the scene for you. Focus on the position of the vehicles, skid marks, and anything else that could help reconstruct the accident scene.
Your health is the most important consideration, so if you can’t move around to take photos, don’t worry. A car accident attorney can return to the accident scene for evidence after the fact. In addition, police reports and witness statements can provide details to support your case.
Taking Photos and Videos Can Prove Fault After a Car Accident
When you document the site of the accident, you secure evidence to support an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. To file a car accident claim, you must prove that another party acted negligently. This is where photo and video evidence can help. Images from the scene can show which way the vehicles traveled at the time of the accident, whether they attempted to stop, where the vehicles collided, and from which direction.
Images and videos of the accident scene allow accident reconstruction specialists to recreate the accident and establish its cause. This provides proof to both the liable insurance company and the other party’s lawyers.
Obtain the Other Driver’s Contact Details and Car Insurance Information
When you contact emergency services after a car accident, a local officer or state trooper will often take a report that includes the other driver’s contact and insurance information. If you are in a rural area or the authorities are unavailable, try to obtain this information yourself. You should also write a description of the other vehicle, including its make, model, and plate number.
You need this information to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If you sue the negligent motorist, you must have the other driver’s contact information to serve legal documents when you file your case.
Get the Contact Information of Eyewitnesses Who Saw the Collision
Eyewitness accounts can support your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. If you can secure contact information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of people who saw the accident, your attorney can reach out to them and request a statement.
If you cannot get this information, your attorney could get witnesses’ information from the police report and other avenues.
What Is a Witness Statement?
As it pertains to your case, a witness statement, also called witness testimony, consists of a written or verbal description of the events surrounding the car accident. It goes to the insurance company or court in the form of a signed statement, report, or affidavit. In some cases, the witness may testify verbally in depositions, hearings, or trial proceedings.
A witness statement usually includes:
- Details about the accident’s location, date, and time
- Who was involved in the accident
- How the accident occurred
- What the eyewitness saw
- Witnesses’ names and contact information
The most credible witnesses are people who have no direct connections with the parties involved in the accident. For example, if your family member was in the car with you, they’re considered less credible than a neutral party who observed the accident from a clear vantage point.
Report the Car Accident to Your Insurance Company Right Away
You may need to file an insurance claim with your own carrier to recover compensation. So, it’s important to reach out to your own insurance company right away. In some cases, your insurance carrier will prove fault if another party caused your accident.
That said, even your own insurance carrier wants to save money. To protect your right to fair compensation, avoid making any statements that could compromise your claim.
Some phrases to avoid include:
- “It was my fault.”
- “I might have caused the accident.”
- “I’m okay.”
- “I am not injured.”
- “I feel fine.”
Admitting fault or downplaying your injuries can compromise your claim and reduce your settlement’s value. If you aren’t sure what to say to your insurance company, consider consulting with a car accident attorney first.
Avoid Discussing Your Car Accident Case on Social Media
After a car crash, you may want to reassure your friends and family that you’re safe and healthy. Yet, before you make a social media post about your accident, think about how it could affect your claim. Just like when you report to the insurance company, anything you say on social media could hurt your claim.
Play it safe after a car accident and avoid making any social media posts about your case until it’s resolved. If you’re not sure whether a post is appropriate, err on the side of caution and don’t post it.
Don’t Sign a Settlement Agreement or Waiver of Liability After a Car Accident
No matter how minor your injuries are, a car accident is a traumatic experience. It isn’t unusual to feel stressed and confused in the aftermath of a collision. Unfortunately, this is exactly when you should protect yourself. While insurance adjusters may seem friendly, it’s important to remember that their goal is to settle for as little as possible.
If you receive a settlement offer from the other driver’s insurance company or your own, weigh your legal options before you sign. Such settlement offers are frequently low and may not cover all of your injury-related losses.
Do Not Sign a Waiver of Liability Without a Lawyer’s Okay
In addition to low settlement offers, some insurance companies may ask you to sign a waiver of liability. A waiver of liability basically states that you agree not to pursue any additional compensation for your injuries. If you sign a waiver, but then your costs exceed the settlement value, you can’t resubmit or file an additional claim for the same accident.
An attorney can review any settlement offers, agreements, or waivers and explain your legal options.
Consider Consulting a Car Accident Attorney Immediately After Your Collision
One of the most important things you can do after a car collision is to consider your legal options. This may include consulting a lawyer about your case. With extensive experience and comprehensive knowledge of local laws, an attorney can help you streamline the claims process and seek maximum compensation.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With Your Car Accident Claim
Following a car accident, a personal injury attorney advocates for your legal right to justice and compensation. They defend you against unscrupulous settlement offers and actively fight for the financial recovery you deserve.
While you focus on recovering from your car crash injuries, your attorney can:
- Compile documentation of your losses
- Respond to case-related calls and emails
- Conduct negotiations with insurance representatives
- Provide legal advice
- Explain how your case should proceed
- Provide regular updates about your claim’s status
- File a personal injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations, if necessary
When you hire a personal injury lawyer for your car accident claim, you gain a fierce advocate who wants to secure the highest possible settlement for your losses.
Losses Your Attorney May Pursue in a Car Accident Claim
When you file a car accident claim or lawsuit, you seek compensation for the damages you incurred due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
Compensatory damages include both economic and non-economic losses, such as:
- Lost income and business opportunities
- Lost tips, bonuses, promotions, and commissions
- Pain and suffering
- Hospital and medical bills
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
You can also seek the cost of any out-of-pocket expenses related to the collision. These expenses may comprise temporary transportation arrangements and childcare costs.
Seeking Wrongful Death Damages Following a Car Accident
If your loved one passed away in a car crash because of someone else’s negligence, you could seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Every state’s wrongful death statutes differ. Yet, an injury lawyer in your area can explain which laws apply.
Generally, in a wrongful death case, the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, or other immediate family members can pursue damages.
The damages you can pursue differ between states, but they often include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of advice
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
You Have a Limited Time to Seek Damages Through a Lawsuit
Every state has a statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits. If you file your lawsuit outside the allocated time frame, you could lose your chance to secure compensation. The time frame for filing differs depending on the circumstances of your car crash. An attorney familiar with state and local laws can file your case within the appropriate timeframe.
Contacting a lawfirm early offers other advantages. With prompt notification, your attorney will have more time to build a strong case for your car accident settlement. They can gather evidence while it’s still fresh and contact witnesses while the details of the accident are still at the forefront of their minds.
You have options after suffering injuries in a car accident. You don’t have to navigate the claims process alone. A car accident lawyer can advocate for what you deserve.