Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident is never easy. Even minor collisions can result in significant stress. When these accidents result in a serious injury, the aftermath of a crash can be especially challenging. With more than 4.4 million people injured in car accidents across the United States each year, this is a common problem.
Despite these challenges, it is vital that you act decisively. If your injury resulted from the negligence of another driver, you could have a viable claim for monetary compensation.
The steps you take after your accident can directly impact your chances of a fair financial recovery. Below, we discuss some of the important steps to take in the aftermath of a car accident.
To discuss your situation in person, speak with an experienced car accident lawyer right away.
Seek Medical Treatment
After an accident, your health always comes first. While the rate of fatal or severe car accident injuries has fallen substantially since the high point in 1972, there are still countless injuries that require medical attention each day. The failure to seek treatment for an injury following an accident can have steep consequences.
The first consequence to consider is the impact on your health. By delaying treatment, you could be allowing your injury to needlessly worsen. This is compounded by the fact that many accident injuries are not immediately apparent. Thanks to your body’s fight-or-flight response to a crash, you often may not detect your injuries for several hours or even days. To ensure your health is sound, seek medical treatment for even minor injuries after a crash.
There is another consideration to make when it comes to delayed medical treatment. If you fail to see your doctor after an accident, there will not be a paper trail demonstrating your efforts to treat your injury. This can make the job of your car accident lawyer difficult, as the other driver could argue that you are not as injured as you claim to be.
Contact Law Enforcement
After a serious accident, you should always contact the police. If your injuries are serious, it is understandable if you seek immediate treatment at a hospital. Otherwise, it is vital that you stay at the scene of the accident until the police arrive.
You are required to contact the police if an accident involves a bodily injury, and it is in your interest to ensure the reporting officer’s report is accurate.
Do Not Speak with The Other Driver
While you are required to exchange insurance information with the other driver, you should never discuss the crash any further. Anything you say to the other driver could be used against you by their attorney or insurance company.
This is especially true of any apologies you might make for the accident. By apologizing or taking responsibility for the crash, you could weaken your case for compensation in the future. Remember: you are under no obligation to discuss the specifics of your accident with the other driver.
Do Not Speak to the Other Insurance Company
Likewise, you should never speak directly with the other driver’s insurance company. After an accident, the odds are good that they will reach out to you to discuss the crash. They are not calling out of the goodness of their hearts, however. Their adjusters are trained to identify any aspect of your story that could be used against you. One wrong word from you could have a dramatic impact on your case.
Another reason the other insurance could contact you in the aftermath of your car accident is to attempt to settle your claim. This isn’t good news, either. Insurance companies are infamous for making settlement offers immediately after an accident, but before an injured driver knows the scope of their expenses. Their hope is to resolve your claim for a fraction of its value. The right attorney could work with you to review any settlement offer to determine if it is adequate for your situation.
There is only a short window to investigate the circumstances of a car accident. The more information following your crash you can gather, the more likely you are to build a successful claim.
Taking pictures of the accident scene can result in valuable evidence. These photos can paint a picture of how the accident happened or provide evidence of the severity of the crash. In some cases, photographs of the vehicles after the accident can establish which party was at fault for the accident.
In addition to photos, it is also vital to seek out impartial witnesses. In many cases, other drivers that witnessed the crash will stop at the scene. This is often your only opportunity to take down the contact information for these witnesses. You should make every effort to collect the contact information of all witnesses at the scene of the crash.
The report provided by the police often identifies these witnesses, but the officers that respond to your scene are not perfect. In cases where the injuries were severe, these officers are often more focused on aiding the injured and clearing the roadway than tracking down witnesses. When you have the opportunity, obtaining this contact information could have a major impact on your case.
The reason for this is simple. In most disputed car accidents, each driver will point the finger at the other. The testimony of a neutral third party often goes a long way toward demonstrating who was actually at fault.
Seek the Assistance of an Attorney
The most important step to take in the aftermath of a car accident is contacting an attorney. An attorney can carefully review the facts of your case and advise you of the strength of your claim.
If they determine you are not at fault in your accident, your attorney can assist you in moving your claim forward. This could involve investigating the crash, negotiating a settlement, or filing a lawsuit.
Your window to pursue an injury claim after an accident is short, so it is important to seek out an attorney right away.