After a car accident, there can be confusion regarding what to do at the scene and other next steps. We get a lot of questions from the community on this topic, ranging from whether the police should always be called to what to do if the other driver offers you cash at the scene for your damages in exchange for not getting insurance involved. We recommend “going by the book” after an accident, because any number of things can happen in your case, and you need line up your case correctly from the beginning. Here are Robert Sparks Attorneys’ Top 3 Things to do After a Car Accident:
1. Call the Authorities
Check for injuries to anyone in your car and the other vehicle, and call for emergency services if someone requires immediate treatment. Always call the police after an accident to report it, whether there are injuries or not. Call the police even if the other driver tries to convince you otherwise. If the other driver insists that they will not wait for the police, take a picture of their vehicle and tag, and ask for a picture of their driver’s license and registration.
Keep calm and do not argue with anyone, because the evidence will ultimately determine who was at fault (not the drivers themselves on the side of the road). The police will generate an accident report that will document the incident, road conditions, the injuries, the damages to the vehicles, any witnesses, and other crucial contact information for the owner/driver of the other vehicle. The police may also determine who they believe is at fault for the accident after observing the scene, and interviewing the drivers and any witnesses.
Calling the authorities includes making an appointment to seek medical treatment. If you do not seek medical treatment within 14 days, your PIP benefits could be denied, and your case becomes exponentially more difficult.
2. Document Everything
You can do a lot to document and create a record of the incident. If it is safe to move your car out of the road and into a safer area, you should do so; however, if you can take a picture or video of the position of the vehicles immediately after the accident, it can provide good evidence as to how the accident happened. Once you move to a safer area, take additional photos of the damage to your vehicle, the area where the accident happened, and any physical injuries you may have suffered. Be mindful to not apologize or admit fault for the accident- the other driver may report that statement to the police or their insurance company to cast blame on you for the accident.
After the accident, write down or record a video explaining how the accident happened in detail- include as much information you can remember even if it seems insignificant. With a written statement or recording made at around the same time of the accident, you can better refresh your recollection as to what happened when you are questioned in the future.
Finally, document your injuries. Often times, injuries arising from car accidents will not be felt until a day or several days after it happens. Monitor your body closely after the accident and write down details regarding all your aches and pains that may arise. If you missed any work because of the accident, document it. If you missed an important event or you were not able to do certain things after the accident, document it.
3. Call Your Insurance Company and a Personal Injury Lawyer
Report the accident to your insurance company and call an attorney as soon as possible. The insurance companies can use any delay in your reporting of the accident to deny your claim and/or deny that you were injured. If the insurance company asks for either a recorded or non-recorded statement when you first report the claim, politely ask to defer it until you speak with an attorney.
After you report the accident to your insurer, call a personal injury attorney to discuss the facts related to your injuries and your case, so you can understand the process, and so they can immediately move to secure all additional evidence/information, help you get the medical treatment you need, and ensure that the insurance companies are paying you all of what is required for your injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Have questions about a recent car accident and how Robert Sparks Attorneys can help? Call or contact us online to request a FREE consultation.