What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
Being in a car accident is a scary, painful, and confusing experience. It can be difficult to know what to do at the moment or who to talk to in the aftermath. However, there are certain steps that you should take after a car accident to protect your health and your legal claims.
Both your health and your long-term financial situation need to follow the right steps after you have been in an accident. You probably know to exchange contact information, insurance company details, and insurance information with the other driver, but what else should be done?
Remembering these priorities will help you with both the treatment of any injuries and your ability to file a claim.
At Mitch Grissim & Associates, our team of highly-rated legal professionals has helped many clients involved in car accidents protect them during the claims process and navigate the complex legal system after motor vehicle accidents. Call the office or contact us today to schedule a free evaluation of your case with one of our Nashville car accident lawyers and learn how to file a claim.
Check for Injuries
If possible, the first thing that you should do after an accident is to check yourself and others for injuries. If it is clear that someone needs medical attention, call the police immediately and report the accident to emergency services. Even if no one reports any injuries at the scene, the next step is still critically important for your case.
Get to Safety if Possible
If you can exit the vehicle, or even move the car to the side of the road, you should do so immediately. Oftentimes, the vehicle location of the cars involved in the accident could dangerous for other drivers if they are still on the road. If the damage to your car is not too catastrophic and you can pull over, then it is recommended that you do so.
Also, no matter where your vehicle is after the accident, be sure to turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers about the danger.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
The next step after a car accident is to seek immediate medical attention. This is important for two reasons. First, a healthcare professional can diagnose and begin treatment of any injuries immediately, including any injuries that might not be noticed right away like internal bleeding.
Second, getting immediate medical treatment establishes a contemporaneous record of your injuries right after the accident. This documentation can be important evidence in a later legal case for compensation.
You should also visit a doctor soon after an accident, even if you have not experienced any obvious or exterior serious injuries. Though you might feel fine, there is a good chance that you have experienced some form of physical trauma that could have negative effects later. Even if you were treated at the scene of the accident and deemed healthy, schedule an appointment with your physician quickly to double-check.
Gather Evidence from the Scene and Exchange Information
If possible, gather evidence from the accident scene. This includes the insurance company, policy number, driver’s license, and contact information of the other driver involved, along with the phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Take photos and videos of the scene and the vehicle damage caused by the crash. Are there skid marks to capture, or property damage that could come into play?
Gather as much information as you can at the accident scene.
Ask for a copy of the Police Report
When the police arrive, request a copy of the accident report as all of this evidence may be used in a later legal case. As far as evidence goes, this document could be part of a strong defense in your pursuit of compensation for damages.
Keep a Record
In the days, weeks, and months after the accident, keep a record of your healing and progress. Maintain records and receipts of all expenses associated with your accident, including all medical bills and property replacement as well as a daily journal of your physical progress during your rehabilitation.
Save a copy of the police report as well, or at least write down the police report number. You can also ask for the badge number of the responding officer.
These records are incredibly helpful in establishing the economic and non-economic damages caused by the accident in calculating your overall compensation.
Contact Your Insurance Company
The insurance policy that you have is just as important as getting insurance company information from the other driver. Once you call the police and exchange insurance with the driver, you should also call your insurance provider.
This is an important step because an insurance professional can help talk you through what kind of evidence you need. They may ask you for the license plate number type of the other car if emergency personnel like the state police have been contacted, or other questions that would be helpful for an insurance adjuster.
If needed, they may be able to put you in touch with a tow truck that is covered under your policy. For those involved in accidents with motor vehicles, letting their insurance companies know about the collision quickly is very helpful.
Hire a Skilled Attorney
Finally, talk to an experienced lawyer in Tennessee car accident cases about representing your claims after your accident. You need an experienced attorney to manage negotiations with insurance companies and make the best possible arguments for your case in court. Let your attorney handle the legal case so that you can focus on what is most important – your recovery.
An Attorney can Help with Negotiations with the Insurance Company
One of the most difficult aspects of the claims process for an individual is negotiating with the other driver’s insurance company. This entity will do whatever it can to avoid accepting liability and making a large payout.
An attorney can advocate for you and support your legal right to a fair settlement. When you have to prove that the insurance company should compensate you for any damages accrued in the car accident, finding legal representation is key.
Gathering Evidence Like the Accident Report is Crucial
An attorney also understands the importance of evidence in a car insurance claim. It is the only way to prove that you are innocent and that liability belongs to another party when the accident occurred.
This step gives you a better chance of recuperating financial losses from medical bills, property repairs, lost income, or other expenses that occur because of the incident.
A Few Other Important Notes
These initial steps are important to follow, but there are some other things that you need to keep in mind, even in a minor accident.
Never Admit Fault
This is important for any kind of car accident. The claim process depends on who is the at-fault driver in an accident. When the police are asking questions about the incident, do not admit fault. Otherwise, you will be unable to pursue fair compensation after the fact.
Even if the car accident was only a minor collision, there could be other factors that would ruin your case according to state law. Many insurers will use an admission of fault to negate any insurance claims against them, so do not admit to anything at the moment.
When in Doubt, Write it Down
If you are unsure whether certain information will be relevant to your case, assume that it could be and write it down. Take note of the license plates of other vehicles involved in the accident or nearby. Take a picture of the insurance card and know who the other driver’s insurer is. Ask for their vehicle identification number if you can and their driver’s license numbers. Write down the police report number from the accident scene.
There is no reason to avoid collecting as much information as possible after an automobile accident because you never know what will be relevant to your auto insurance claim.
Staying Calm is Difficult, But Necessary
It may be tempting to allow your emotions to rule after an accident. However, if you can remain calm, you will be able to make rational decisions that will benefit you going forward.
Instead of dwelling on what has happened and the worry that it will cause, focus on what you can control: your response. Remember the steps that will set you up for being safe and obtaining justice when the accident is not your fault. Call the authorities as soon as you can so that the nearest police station can respond and help you navigate the situation. Exchange contact information about insurance companies with others at the scene.
If you can remain level-headed throughout the confrontation, you will have a better chance of remembering the steps and benefitting from them.
Talk to Our Office
We hope you find this article helpful if you get into a car crash in the future. Know that our team of attorneys is ready and willing to protect your rights after a crash and help you win fair compensation for any damages incurred.
To learn more about the wide range of legal services Mitch Grissim & Associates offer our personal injury clientele, call or contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.