If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident, the following are some "do's and don'ts" to help protect you or your loved one's right to a legal remedy for harm suffered.
Prepare yourself by printing out this helpful pamphlet on the first steps after an auto accident and storing it in your glove compartment.
Below, we will review the DOs to protect yourself after a car accident.
DO Seek Medical Attention Before Doing Anything Else
Focus on your health and safety first. Get immediate medical attention for any injuries you sustained in the accident. Prompt treatment of injuries can help prevent complications and provide documentation for a personal injury claim.
DO Call the Police to the Scene of the Accident
It is important to request a police officer to come to the scene in cases involving injuries, severe property damage, or potential crimes. Also, request a police officer in minor accidents which may have caused damage that cannot be seen by the naked eye. There may also be soft tissue injuries that are not noticeable at the time of the accident. The police report will serve as an official record of the accident. It can be valuable evidence for insurance claims or legal proceedings.
DO Cooperate With All Law Enforcement and Emergency Personnel
Provide accurate and honest information to police officers, first responders, and other personnel on the scene. This will help the accident report be thorough and accurate.
DO Get License Plate Numbers, Insurance Information, and Driver's License Numbers
Record the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved in the car accident and the driver's license numbers of the drivers. This and other insurance information is crucial for your potential legal claim.
DO Exchange Contact Information
Collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all other drivers involved in the car accident. This will make it easier to communicate and process claims after the accident.
DO Stay Safe on the Side of the Road
While waiting for help or exchanging information, stay on the side of the road. Take necessary precautions, such as using hazard lights and reflective triangles, to alert other drivers and prevent further accidents.
DO Take Photographs
Use your cell phone to take photographs of:
- The scene of the accident
- The surrounding area
- The vehicles involved
- Any contributing factors, property damage, and injuries
These images can serve as evidence for insurance adjusters and legal proceedings.
DO Get a Copy of the Accident Report
Request a copy of the accident report from the law enforcement officer who responded to the scene. This report can be useful for insurance claims and legal proceedings. Note the officer's name and badge number for reference.
DO Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Report the accident to your own insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with the policy number, accident details, and contact information for all parties involved.
DO Document Injuries, Medical Treatment, and Missed Work
Keep a detailed record of all medical treatments received, your injury progress, missed work, and any emotional or physical difficulties experienced due to the accident. This information can be useful when seeking compensation for medical bills and lost wages.
DO Get a Property Damage Valuation
Request a property damage valuation from your insurance company. Or get estimates from two independent shops if you are unsatisfied with the insurance company's assessment.
DO Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Contact an experienced car accident lawyer for legal advice and representation, especially if you've suffered significant car accident injuries, property damage, or have questions about your auto insurance coverage. A qualified attorney can help you navigate the complexities of motor vehicle accident claims and ensure your rights are protected. For more information, read this article on how to hire a car accident attorney.
DO Be Mindful of Your Communications
Avoid providing recorded statements to insurance adjusters without first speaking with a lawyer. Be cautious when talking about the accident with other motorists or posting about it on social media. These statements can be used against you in legal proceedings or insurance claims.
DO Cooperate With Your Own Insurance Company
Work closely with your insurance company to process your claim and provide any necessary documentation. Consult with your attorney before signing any settlement agreements or accepting any offers from the at-fault driver's insurance company.
The following are the DON'Ts after a car accident:
DON'T Move Your Vehicle Unnecessarily
After a car crash, don't move your vehicle unless it is necessary for safety reasons or required by law. In minor accidents like fender benders with no injuries or significant vehicle damage, it may be appropriate to move the car to a safer location.
DON'T Put Yourself at Risk
Avoid standing or waiting in areas with traffic or other safety hazards.
DON'T Leave the Accident Scene
Remain at the scene of an accident until the police have permitted you to leave. Or, if the police will not be arriving, remain until you have gathered all the required information.
DON'T Throw Away Potential Evidence
Preserve any items that could serve as evidence in your case, such as defective products, torn or bloodstained clothing, or car parts that were detached during the accident.
DON'T Stay in Dangerous Situations
If you are in a burning car, prioritize your safety by leaving the area first. Once you are in a safe location, call 911 for help.
DON'T Discuss Fault
Refrain from discussing fault with anyone at the scene, including other drivers or witnesses. Avoid apologizing for anything, as this could be interpreted as an admission of legal fault.
DON'T Agree to Settlements Without Legal Advice
Before accepting any settlement offers from other drivers' insurance companies, consult with a personal injury attorney or a personal injury lawyer. They can help review the terms and protect your rights and interests.
DON'T Withhold Information
When you exchange information with other parties involved in the accident, provide accurate and complete details. This includes your insurance policy information, contact information, and other relevant details.
DON'T Delay Reporting the Accident
Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible after the accident to report the incident and initiate a claim.
DON'T Forget to Document the Scene
Collect as much information as possible, including photographs of skid marks, vehicle damage, and the surrounding area. This can be valuable evidence for your case.
DON'T Handle Matters on Your Own
Seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney or lawyer to navigate the complexities of insurance claims and legal proceedings. They can provide valuable guidance and ensure your rights are protected.
DON'T Neglect to Follow Up With the Police Department
Get a copy of the accident report and ensure all details are accurate. Contact the police department to provide more information or clarify any discrepancies.
DON'T Ignore Your Rental Car Coverage
If your insurance policy includes rental car coverage, request a rental while your vehicle is being repaired. This can help minimize disruptions to your daily life and routines.
Filing a Car Accident Claim? An Attorney Can Help
These tips will get you started in the right direction. But it's always a good idea to meet with an experienced attorney, especially if a serious injury is involved. Car accident cases are often complicated and require witnesses, medical evidence, and detailed knowledge of negligence law to succeed. Get started today and contact an experienced injury attorney near you.