What Should You Do?
The minutes and hours following a car accident can be a confusing blur. Assuming you've moved your body outside the zone of danger, there are a few things you can do to help avoid conflicts regarding the facts of the accident:
1. Seek Medical Attention.
Yes, there are other things that are important, but be sure to take care of your health first. Try to take a few deep breaths and evaluate your physical condition. Do the same for your passengers.
2. Decide Whether to Move Your Vehicle.
If you're on a highway or freeway and you're safely able to do so, most jurisdictions prefer parties involved in the accident to move their vehicles off the roadway. If, however, you're unsure of the safety of doing so, leave it there. Some vehicles are obviously unmovable due to damage caused by the accident, so don't force the issue if the vehicle won't move. If possible, take photos of the scene from multiple angles prior to moving your vehicle.
3. Contact law enforcement.
Usually, this means calling 911. There are many reasons that having a police officer or highway patrolman take an official report may be helpful.
4. Exchange Insurance Information.
Be sure to exchange information with all involved parties, not just the party you think is at fault. Don't forget to get drivers licenses as well. Most people drive with cell phones that have cameras, so the exchange of information is easier now than ever before.
5. Take Photos.
You should take photos from multiple angles of all vehicles and the surrounding areas. If possible, do this prior to moving vehicles from where they came to rest after the accident.
You may think it is obvious who caused the accident, but it is always important to have the contact information of witnesses, just in case there is a conflict later on about who caused the wreck.
6. Call An Injury Attorney
Nearly all injury attorneys give free consultations. A short phone call to an injury attorney will help you determine how to move forward. If you were injured, an injury lawyer will know the best path forward, and will be able to give you advice and counsel as to how to best proceed with your claim.
7. Call Your Insurance Provider
Most insurance companies require you to report all accidents involving your vehicle.
8. Don't Talk
Do not talk to the other driver's insurance company. You should never give a recorded statement to the other party's insurance carrier without first consulting an experienced injury attorney. There are countless seemingly insignificant things their insurance adjuster may ask you to say or confirm that can hurt your ability to recover a fair and reasonable settlement for your losses.
9. Follow Up
If you were injured in a car wreck, and you sought medical treatment, you should follow up with your doctor. Usually this means getting the treatment they prescribe. At a minimum, you should go to the follow up visit to discuss your injuries as time passes. Remember, if it isn't well-documented by a doctor, the insurance company will not take your word for it. Harsh as it seems, if a doctor doesn't specifically say you were injured, you were not injured at all in the eyes of the insurance adjuster.
10. Don't Settle For Less Than Fair Value
Insurance companies are incredibly savvy at getting injured people to accept small amounts of money to resolve their claims. If you were hurt, you deserve not only the cost of your medical expenses, but also money for pain and suffering. Don't settle for less than fair. If you feel like you're not making progress with the insurance adjuster, you're not alone: nearly every personal injury claim is valued higher when it is handled by a skilled injury attorney. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. have the experience to help you recover a fair settlement for your injury.