The 6 Steps to Take After an Accident
By Chris Dixon
If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s A) Important to stay calm, B) To get to a safe place, and C) If you’re able to, start thinking about legal repercussions. As an experienced St. Louis car accident lawyer, I’ve seen a lot of claims fail because the proper steps weren’t followed. Below, we’re going to discuss the most effective ways to recover compensation after a car accident. There are 7 million accidents every year, and knowing what to do beforehand is essential.
1: Stay Put, Get Help
Right away you should contact local authorities if you’re able, or make sure a bystander does. You and other involved parties may require immediate medical attention or, if it was a criminal act, the police.
Hit and Run accidents are a serious problem, too. Approximately 15,000 people are killed in hit and run accidents every year, and nearly 11 percent of people involved in accidents flee the scene. It’s important to stay put, call the authorities, and wait for help. Get away from immediate danger such as fires or heavy traffic on an insterstate.
According to the DMV, here’s the to-do list for accident victims.
- Stay safe and move away from danger.
- Determine if there are immediate threads of danger or injuries.
- Call 911 as soon as possible.
- Follow instructions that the police/authorities give you.
- Get medical attention.
- If your car is towed, make sure you know the company’s name.
2: Gather Information
No one expects to be in a car accident. And if it does happen, you’ll likely be disoriented or in shock. However, one of the most important things you can do after an accident is gather information. You or a trusted bystander needs to document everything from which direction the cars hit, how fast, what time of day it happened, etc. Photograph everything.
The more information you have, the better your chances of winning a car accident claim.
Pictures of the scene, license plate numbers, and witness testimonies can be the difference between a small insurance payout and a settlement that covers repairs, medical treatment, lost wages, and other damages.
3: Get Medical Treatment
Even if you’re not physically hurt, or just have a scrape and a bruise, it’s crucial to go to a hospital for medical treatment. Why? Because hospital staff will be actively documenting your injuries. You may have a concussion, for instance, and not show any symptoms for several hours. If you have a medical chart and tests run, this is additional proof to support your damage claim and to increase the reimbursement amount.
4: Notify the Insurance Companies
Next up, you’re going to have to talk to your insurance company and the other party’s insurance company. The important thing to note here is not to accept a settlement as they won’t have all of the information. The at-fault driver’s insurer may offer you a certain amount for repairs without blinking an eye, but those numbers most likely do not match what you actually deserve. This is a good step to contact a local car accident attorney for more information and guidance on what to do.
5: Don’t Immediately Send a Demand Letter
Your first instinct may be to send a demand letter for your claim. We recommend that you don’t send a demand letter without legal representation. An experienced lawyer will know how to structure a demand letter, calculate damages, and will give your claim legal backing. Contact an injury lawyer for advice and help before you send a demand letter. Sending a solid demand letter is key to winning an injury claim quickly and getting the compensation you deserve.
6: Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Unless the at-fault insurance company magically settles in response to your demand letter (which they won’t, since you shouldn’t have sent a letter without legal counsel), it’s time to find a lawyer who specializes in car accidents. A lawyer can help you negotiate with insurers and present your arguments more effectively. At the Dixon Injury Firm, we’ve settled more than $35 million for injury victims in the Greater St. Louis area and Southern Illinois. You can contact us 24/7 for a free consultation.