10 Steps to Take After a Car Accident
By Chris Dixon
Approximately 90 people die every day in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S, making the United States the highest country for motor vehicle accidents. Most of these accidents will file an insurance claim, but they might not be aware of the steps that need to be taken immediately after a car accident happens, or that it is important to file their claim with a local personal injury lawyer.
There are 10 crucial steps that must be taken to win a car accident claim. While not everyone will win compensation for their claim, the following steps will help make sure that your case has the best chance of winning the maximum amount of compensation.
1. Stay at the Scene
Never leave the scene of an accident before authorized personnel arrive. Leaving the scene of an accident before it’s reported can result in serious fines and consequences, and be considered a hit and run. If you leave the scene and there is only property damage and no one is injured, it is considered in most cases to be a misdemeanor. Leaving the scene of a car accident that’s considered a misdemeanor can cost you approximately $1,000 in fines, and could cause you to face jail time. For more serious hit-and-runs where someone is severely hurt or killed, the consequences are up to $10,000 in fines and an automatic felony.
2. Seek Medical Attention
Get checked out by authorized medical personnel and make sure that you don’t have any internal or external injuries from the crash. If you are injured and your injuries are diagnosed by a doctor, an official medical report will be created to document your injuries. A medical report is useful if you choose to seek damages by filing a personal injury claim with a personal injury lawyer.
3. Check and Make Sure Other Drivers are Safe
Make sure that everyone that was involved in the accident is okay, and get them medical attention if they need it. If someone is unconscious or they are severely injured, do not move them or attempt to treat their injuries yourself. This could make their injuries worse, and come back to haunt you later when filing an insurance claim. Even if they were the negligent driver in the accident, they could sue you for damages because of their worsened injuries.
4. Document the Scene
Don’t make the mistake of leaving the scene without documenting it. Documenting the scene ensures that the details of the accident will be portrayed accurately, and that the other party or their insurance company won’t be able to spin the details of the accident to their advantage. Take pictures of the scene including any damage done to vehicles, personal injuries, road marks, and the other driver’s license plate to make sure that there is accurate evidence of the accident.
5. File a Police Report
If there’s significant property damage, injuries or death, call the police and get them involved. File an official police report of what happened and get the names and badge numbers of any police officers that respond.
6. Swap Information with Other Drivers
Get contact information from anyone that is involved in the accident. Gather names, addresses, license plate numbers and insurance information to make sure that you have all the information that the insurance company will require. When talking to them, don’t say sorry or apologize in any other way if you weren’t the at-fault driver. Apologizing is a sign that you are the at-fault driver in the accident, which if you aren’t, can make it difficult for courts to determine who is at-fault in the accident.
7. Gather Information from Witnesses
Ask anyone who is at or around the scene if they saw the accident happen and what their description of what happened is. Witnesses to the accident are unbiased and help give an accurate depiction of what happened in the accident, which can help when courts are deciding is at-fault.
8. Stay Silent with the Insurance Company
After the accident, surrounded by medical personnel, police and the wreckage from the accident, the other driver’s insurance company will try and get you to make an immediate statement of what happened in the accident. Don’t talk to them, and stay silent until you can talk to a local personal injury lawyer about your case. Talking to the other driver’s company too soon can cause you to receive a lower amount of money for your case than you deserve.
9. Call a Personal Injury Attorney
The most important thing to keep in in mind is to immediately contact a lawyer after the accident. A lawyer will know the State’s laws, and will be able to tell you how your case measures up. Don’t make the mistake of trying to navigate the legal system yourself as it is complex and choosing to not use a lawyer to represent your case could be the difference in winning or losing your claim. Experienced personal injury lawyers have handled cases similar to yours, and know how to fight against large insurance companies to get the maximum amount of compensation that you may be entitled to.
10. File an Insurance Claim with a Lawyer
It’s crucial to hold off on filing a claim with your insurance company until after you have hired a lawyer. Filing an insurance claim with a personal injury lawyer allows you to be informed of your rights and have the support of an experienced lawyer by your side. Your lawyer will talk with the insurance company on your behalf. If the insurance company is being difficult, a lawyer knows how to negotiate so that your car accident case will receive the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
It cannot be stressed enough that after a car accident, you should document the scene and contact a personal injury lawyer or firm to represent your car accident claim. Thousands of dollars are awarded in damages and personal injury every day, so if you believe that you have a valid car accident claim, document the scene and consult with a personal injury attorney about your car accident claim. If you are ready to explore the options that are available for your car accident case, contact the Dixon Injury Firm for more information about your car accident claim.