What To Do After A Car Accident
You are driving on the highway, maybe listening to your favorite radio show on the way home from work when suddenly you feel your car shake and realize that you’ve been hit. Once you get over the initial shock of having been hit you’ll want to check to see if you have been injured. Although emotions are high it is important to focus on the details of the accident. Perhaps keep a list of the following information that you will need next to your proof of insurance. These are steps that you need to take in order to protect yourself and your interests:
Call a Personal Injury Attorney
It’s extremely important that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you are able to. Keep in mind that insurance companies will make every attempt to get to you as soon as possible in an attempt to prevent you from speaking to a lawyer – don’t let this happen to you! Insurance adjusters exist to protect the insurance company’s interests, not yours. A good lawyer won’t charge you any money unless you win your case, so take advantage of that opportunity!
File a Police Report
Always call the police tell them that you are in shock and may be injured and ask them to prepare a report. This will be crucial to preserving evidence, which will assist you in recovering compensation for your damages, even if you do not seem injured at the scene, you might develop symptoms later. Having documentation greatly improves your chance for success.
Make sure to check on all the passengers as well as the drivers to see if anyone needs medical attention. Also, secure the scene by placing flares and keeping your hazard lights on. If there are serious injuries or major property damage you will want to call an ambulance for help. Double-check that the police actually file a report and write down their name and badge number, as well as the police report number.
Secure Any Witnesses Present & Get Their Identification.
When filing a police report, be sure to give as much detail as possible as this will help in the long run. Do not guess or suppose what happened. The officers will most likely ask you if you are injured – if you are not sure at that moment, say just that. If the filed police report says that you were not injured at the scene, this can be used against you later as evidence in court. Often times, auto accident injuries don’t become evident until many hours later, or even a couple of days after the crash. If there are any witnesses present, ask for their contact information. Do not assume that witnesses will come forward or that police will follow up with them.
Usually the officer filling the reports and investigating the accident would obtain the insurance information from each driver, be sure to get this information yourself immediately from the responsible driver as it will take days/weeks to get it from the police. If this was a minor accident and no law enforcement members responded to the scene, there is important information you need to gather. Get the name, address and telephone numbers of all people involved, as well as the insurance information from the drivers. Collect contact information from any willing witnesses so your attorney can contact them in the future.
Pictures, pictures, pictures
Take photos with someone’s cell phone of everything relevant and ALL cars involved depicting ALL damage. Take photos of relevant people.
Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Before anything at the scene is moved around or changed, make sure to take pictures. Photographs of the evident physical damage to the people and vehicles involved will provide solid evidence if the case were to go to court.
After the fact
If you begin to feel symptoms of injury after the accident, seek immediate medical attention. It can often take hours or days to feel the pain of an auto accident injury. Not only can immediate care lessen the severity of the symptoms, it is extremely important to get early documentation should you need evidence of your injury. As soon as you are able, contact your attorney BEFORE you speak to any insurance personnel. . Your attorney understands the legal system and is experienced in dealing with insurance companies and any other parties that may be involved. An experienced personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and help get the compensation you deserve.
If you have any questions about your car accident or want to learn more about how a personal injury attorney can help you, call our offices at (916) 863-2900 for a free consultation.