A car accident is one of the unavoidable incidents of modern life. According to statistics, they are the most common type of personal injury accidents. There’s no surprise there either, since vehicles are pretty much the most common means of transport.
Data from the US Census Bureau shows that that more than 128 million Americans commute to work in a vehicle, every single day. With the staggering number of vehicles on the road on any given day, there’s no wonder that car accidents happen so often.
The basic truth that the stats show is that car accidents happen so often and on such a large scale that they may eventually get around to you. Knowing this, it is crucial that you understand what your rights and obligations are in the event of a car accident.
Even more importantly, you should know exactly what to do if you are involved in a car accident. Since you are likely to be in shock, frustrated or plain distraught after the accident. Now is the best time to understand what to do. How you react in the immediate aftermath of the accident will be key to your chances of securing compensation afterwards.
At Joseph Williams Law, we have helped car accident victims recover compensation for the injury done to them. One thing we notice is that car accident victims are hardly ever prepared when a car accident strikes. Closely following this is the realization that most simply fail to do what will help their case, and many even hurt their own case.
We don’t want you to only realize this with the benefit of hindsight. So we have prepared this guide to help you understand what you should do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. Here are 9 things you simply must do:
#1: Stop, check for injuries and get medical attention
After the car accident, you may feel a strong impulse to simply drive off and avoid the whole problem. Don’t give in to that impulse. Immediately after you feel the crash, find a safe place to pull over, get out and check for injuries.
That is if you are lucky though. In many car accidents, the impact can leave you seriously injured or worse, fighting for your life. If you are in this situation, call emergency services on your phone or get a bystander to make the call for you. It is absolutely key that you get medical attention at this point. If you are worried about the cost of emergency medical treatment, let your mind be at rest. At Joseph Williams Law, we can help you take care of your treatment even if you do not have insurance.
#2: Keep your calm
Car accidents are terribly stressful events. If you are not so injured as to be fighting for your life, you may quickly get irked out by the train of events and lose your calm. This would be a bad idea for a number of reasons.
If you lose your calm and get angry, you may lash out at the other driver, especially if you feel they were at fault. This can however come back to haunt you in subsequent proceedings. If you physically assault them, it can lead to civil or criminal action.
#3: Report the accident
As soon as you are able to, call the police to report the accident. Your duty to report the accident in this case is not just the right thing to do, it is legally required. This would especially be the case if the accident blocks traffic or involves injury.
Apart from this, reporting the accident helps ensure that there is an official record of the event. In some instances, your insurer may require that you support your claim for compensation with the official police report. You can request a copy of the report after it is filed.
#4: Stay at the scene of the accident
Whatever you do, don’t leave the accident scene. Leaving the scene of an accident before complying with legal formalities or the arrival of law enforcement can amount to a criminal offence.
Rather than leave, ensure you exchange details with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. The details that you need to exchange here includes names and addresses, vehicle information and insurance information.
#5: Gather evidence and information
The period while you are waiting for the arrival of emergency services or the police provides an excellent chance to gather evidence. This is often the part that most people forget about. Forgetting to gather evidence and lead to lower chances of recovering compensation.
The evidence you need to gather here includes facts about the car accident and witness statements if you can get them. Don’t assume that you know everything that happened. Certain important facts could have escaped your attention, and this is your opportunity to get a full picture of what happened. Use the opportunity to also take pictures and a video of the accident scene.
#6: Notify your insurance company
If you carry insurance, you should contact your insurer and inform them about the accident. If you fail to do this, you may be breaching the agreement between you and your insurer. This might affect your chances of securing compensation from your own insurer.
Under the agreement between you and the insurer, you have an obligation to inform them about the accident. But in informing them, be careful about what you say. Even though they are your own insurers, they are only looking out for their own interest. Not yours.
#7: Say nothing that admits liability
On no account should you ever admit liability for the accident, not to your insurer and definitely not to the other party. Even if you reasonably believe you were at fault, keep silent instead of admitting fault.
The reason for this is that the accident will still be investigated by your insurer and the police. You may think you know exactly what happened but the investigation may reveal an entirely different picture.
Also avoid statements that can negatively impact your claim. Avoid saying things like “I should have been more careful” or “I am fine” or “It’s nothing really”. These kinds of statements are called admissions against interest and they can be fatal to your case.
#8: Document your injuries and loss
Complete and comprehensive documentation is often an important part of building a strong claim. Right from the day that the car accident occurs, open a file and keep all important documentation regarding the accident in it.
Take pictures of your own injuries and stint in the ER. If you cannot take the pictures by yourself, get someone to take them for you. Having pictures of your injury and recovery process will be important to establishing a claim for pain and suffering. Keep all your medical bills and receipts for any expenses you have had to make by reason of the accident. You cannot be too meticulous on this count.
#9: Contact a qualified car accident attorney
Once you have done everything listed above, you will have put yourself in the best position to recover adequate compensation for your accident. However, the most important step that brings it all together is retaining the services of a qualified car accident attorney.
With this information that you have recorded and the steps you have taken, your attorney will be better able to help you put together a winning claim. Do not assume that you can make the claim on your own.
In fact, insurance companies will be much happier when they discover you do not have a lawyer. This is because they know your best chance of getting fair compensation lies in the advantage of having a skilled and dedicated lawyer by your side.
If you have been injured in a car accident, you can significantly improve your chances of a positive resolution by getting in touch with us at Joseph Williams Law. We have only one mission, and that is to see you win the highest amount of compensation possible. Reach out to us at 912-259-6548 for a free review of your case.