Being involved in a car wreck can be extremely shocking and traumatizing. The situation can be even more difficult to deal with if you’re not prepared with an understanding of how to handle such a circumstance.
Keep reading to learn the ten steps you’ll need to take in order to properly handle the aftermath of a car accident.
10 Steps to Take
#1: Don’t Drive Away
While this may seem like common sense, it’s worth stating. Leaving the scene of an accident prematurely can result in serious consequences. Don’t risk it—stay put until you’re cleared to leave.
#2: Protect the Accident Site
It’s wise to set up flares (if you have them) and turn on your hazard lights so that other drivers are aware of the crash. Doing this can help prevent further accidents and keep the site of the accident as safe as possible.
#3: Call the Authorities
No matter how minor or severe the accident is, it’s always a good idea to have the police come and make an accident report. When you file a claim with the insurance company, they may request this documentation, even if you’re only filing a claim for property damage.
If the vehicles involved don’t interfere with the flow of traffic, you’ll want to leave them where they are until the police arrive and make a report.
Before the police leave, make sure you obtain the police report number. You’ll need it in order to obtain the report once it becomes available.
#4: Provide an Honest Account of the Events
When the police show up, be sure to tell the investigating officer exactly what happened as you remember it. If there are certain facts you don’t know, tell the officer that you don’t know. Don’t attempt to speculate or make assumptions about anything that happened.
If the officer asks you if you’re injured and you don’t know, tell that to the officer. Don’t say that you aren’t injured just because you don’t feel any pain. It’s common for accident victims not to feel the pain of injuries sustained for hours, days, or even weeks following a traumatic accident.
#5: Photograph the Scene
Use the camera on your phone to take images of the accident site. Below, you’ll find a quick checklist of the images you should take:
- All four corners of the vehicles (front and rear)
- Interior of the vehicles
- Scattered debris such as glass, fuel, and car parts
- Traffic signals and road signs near the scene of the crash
- Road markings such as yellow lines and arrows
- Skid marks or other damage to the road’s surface
- Any visible injuries sustained by you or your passengers
- Other drivers and passengers involved in the crash
- Witnesses, if possible
Make sure to take the time and properly focus your shots. Shots that are out of focus are of minimal value to your claim. This is essential information that will greatly help the attorneys recreate the scene of your motor vehicle accident.
#6: Exchange Information
The investigating officer should collect this information, but there may be circumstances that warrant you to collect this information yourself. Be sure to gather the following information from all people involved in the accident—both drivers and passengers—as well as any witnesses present:
- Phone number
In addition, be sure to obtain photographs of the following pieces of information from the drivers involved in the wreck:
- Insurance card (front and back)
- Driver’s license (front and back)
#7: Seek Medical Care
It’s common for victims of trauma not to feel the pain of injuries sustained right away. In fact, it can take hours, days, or even weeks for the pain of your injuries to become present after being involved in a traumatic car accident.
That’s why it’s so important to have yourself checked out by a medical professional right away. Even minor injuries can prompt serious complications later on.
If you lost consciousness or became woozy for even a short while following the crash, it’s possible you may have sustained a concussion or closed head injury. If you don’t treat such an injury immediately, you may experience cognitive and behavioral changes as a result.
#8: Notify the Insurance Company
Even if you don’t plan to file a claim with your insurance company, most policies require that you notify them if you’re involved in an accident. It’s important to do this right away, even if you don’t provide a full statement the first time you speak with them.
Be cautious when speaking with the insurance company. Don’t offer up any information that isn’t directly asked of you. Keep in mind that you’re not required to provide an official statement about the accident over the phone. You have the option to submit your statement in writing or you may even have your attorney provide your statement for you.
#9: Stay Organized
It’s wise to keep everything you have related to the accident organized and in a safe place. You’ll want to make sure you have all of the following information:
- Your claim number
- The claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim
- Names and phone numbers of all contacts
- Receipts for a car rental
- Receipts for any other expenses incurred due to the crash
#10: Secure Representation
Securing adequate representation may be the most important step you take with respect to your claim. Your attorney can make sure that your rights are protected and that valuable evidence remains intact. Make sure you speak with your attorney before providing a statement to the insurance company so you can avoid making costly mistakes.
Your attorney can provide useful knowledge to help you receive the full compensation for your claim and to make sure that you receive the best available medical treatment. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t incur any legal fees unless the attorney recovers compensation for you.
We’re Here for Your Support
If you’ve been involved in an injury-sustaining car accident, our attorneys here at ‘Maggio | Thompson, LLP can help. Our team has assisted many other people in similar situations, and we may be able to assist you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm with your case right away.
Contact our attorneys at ‘Maggio | Thompson, LLP at (601) 265-6869 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.