After a car accident, you may be left shocked, shaken and worried about how you will recover from your injuries or damage to your vehicle. You can help your case by taking a few steps immediately after the accident to ensure you can receive the maximum compensation you deserve. There are also things you should avoid doing after an accident, because they could hurt your case.
After doing the obvious things like calling the police and checking to make sure you and your passengers will receive immediate medical attention once an ambulance arrives, there are steps you can take as you wait for police.
If you are not seriously injured to the point that you cannot speak or move around, here is what you should do after an accident:
- -Write down or take a picture of license plates of vehicles involved in the accident
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver or drivers
- Take photos of the scene, including damage to your vehicle, both inside and out (include photos of car seats if they are in your vehicle). Take photos of debris on the road, road conditions and street signs. Take photos of injuries you suffered or your loved ones suffered if you can.
- Find witnesses if anyone was around, and ask them what they saw. Write down any details, and get their contact information. It is helpful to get their home address along with their phone number.
- When the police arrive, get the officers' badge numbers.
- When the ambulance arrives, or if you go to see a doctor, report every painful area or medical problem you have from the accident, so that it gets documented. The insurance company will access this file when determining whether to pay for medical costs associated with the accident.
- Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations to recover from your injuries.
- Contact your car insurance company and report the accident as soon as you are able to.
Here are things you should NOT do after an accident:
- When you're at the accident scene, do not talk about who was at fault when speaking to the other driver or drivers
- Do not move anything at the accident scene or take away any evidence before police arrive.
- Do not refuse medical care or treatment when the ambulance arrives. The insurance company could argue you weren't as badly injured as you claim if you don't get immediate treatment.
- Do not worry about medical expenses or avoid treatment because of the cost. You are entitled to seek compensation for your injuries, including compensation that will cover any medical expenses related to the accident.
- Do not agree to give any insurance company (yours or the other driver's) a recorded statement before speaking with an attorney first.
- Do not agree to a financial settlement offer from a car insurance company before consulting with an attorney. An attorney can help you get the maximum compensation you deserve, instead of settling for a lower amount.
While these are helpful steps to take immediately after a car accident, there's one more step you can take days, weeks or even months after your accident. You should keep a written record or documentation of all discussions you have with police, medical personnel or doctors and insurance companies. You should do this for all discussions about both the accident and your injuries.
A personal injury attorney experienced in dealing with insurance companies to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve can help guide you through this difficult time. An attorney will fight for your best interests and help relieve the burden of legal paperwork, communication with insurance companies and medical concerns.