What You Need to Do Following a Car Wreck
Ensure Safety First: Immediately after an accident, ensure everyone is safe. Move to a safer area away from traffic if possible. The primary concern after any accident should always be the safety of all parties involved.
Check for Injuries: Evaluate everyone involved for injuries. Some injuries may not be apparent immediately but can worsen over time.
Call 911: Even if no one is injured, always call the police. A police report can be vital when dealing with insurance companies and other parties after a crash. The report prepared by law enforcement will likely contain documentation of the scene and witness statements.
Stay Calm and Polite: Emotions can run high, but it’s crucial to remain calm. Avoid confrontations as they can escalate and complicate matters.
Gather Information: Collect names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance info, and license plate numbers from all drivers. This is crucial for any future legal or insurance claims.
Take Photos: Document the accident scene, vehicle damage, license plates, and any injuries. Photos can provide indisputable evidence and details that might be forgotten. There is no reason not to do this since everyone seems to have a cell phone these days that can take high quality pictures.
Identify Witnesses: Get contact information from any witnesses to the accident. Their account can be crucial if there are disputes about what happened.
Avoid Making Recorded Statements: Without your attorney present, refrain from making recorded statements to insurance adjusters.
Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, see a doctor. Internal injuries or issues can manifest days or even weeks later.
Attend All Medical Appointments: Missing appointments can be used against you, suggesting your injuries aren’t severe.
Limit Physical Activity: If injured, don’t push your physical boundaries. It may exacerbate your injuries.
Consider Therapy: Physical or emotional therapy can assist in recovery. It can also demonstrate the extent of your injuries. Accidents can have emotional impacts. Be aware of signs of depression or PTSD.
Keep a Diary: Document your physical and emotional state following the accident. This can be used as evidence if you pursue a personal injury claim.
Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with personal injury laws in your jurisdiction.
Contact A Lawyer: Even if it seems minor, contact your personal injury lawyer. They can guide you on the next steps and protect your rights.
Inform Your Insurance Company: Notify them of the accident, but remember, they might not always have your best interest at heart.
Review Your Insurance Policy: Understand what your insurance covers—like medical expenses, car rentals, and more.
Get a Property Damage Valuation: Obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. If you disagree, seek two other repair estimates or replacement quotes. Only use reputable repair shops. Ensure repairs are done correctly and keep all receipts.
Maintain Records: Keep all accident-related documents and receipts. This includes medical expenses, repair costs, and any other related expenses.
Inform Your Employer: If you’re injured and can’t work, notify your employer and understand your rights regarding compensation and time off.
Watch Out for Early Settlement Offers: Insurance companies might try to settle quickly and for less than you deserve. Don’t let them pressure you into settling. Contact a personal injury lawyer before settling and signing any documents. Most initial consultations with an attorney are free.
Be Wary of Surveillance: Insurance companies may surveil you to disprove your injury claim.
Avoid Social Media: Don’t post about the accident or your injuries and don’t discuss the accident on public forums or chat groups. The insurance company or opposing attorneys can use your posts against you.
Know the Statute of Limitations: Be aware of time limits to file lawsuits in your jurisdiction.
Follow All Legal Advice: Always adhere to advice from your lawyer. Their expertise ensures your best outcome.