Being involved in a car accident can be a difficult experience, no matter how tough you are. In most instances, not only is your vehicle damaged, but you likely facing medical bills and even lost wages. For many, obtaining a reasonable settlement is the only way to get their life back on track. For this reason, there are certain things you should do after an accident to protect your legal rights and to ensure that you receive adequate compensation for your injuries, losses and damages. Here is a checklist to keep in mind if you are involved in an auto accident:
1. Always contact the police. Sometimes the other driver will encourage you just to exchange information and not call the police. This is a big mistake. Obtaining a police report after an accident is crucial.
2. Make sure you get the names and numbers of all witnesses. Many accident victims assume that witnesses will remain at the scene and provide their information to the police. This doesn’t always happen. For this reason, you should get all applicable contact information for all witnesses.
3. Get medical treatment as soon as possible. In many instances, fire rescue or paramedics will come to the scene. Get checked out and report all of your injuries. Also, follow up with either transport to the hospital, if indicated, or follow up with a physician as soon as possible after the accident.
4. Make sure to tell the medical care providers about all of your injuries. Sometimes victims of accidents only complain about the injury that hurts the most. They ignore some other body part, not mentioning it until some later time. The failure to describe all of your injuries will give the at-fault driver and their insurance company ammunition to suggest that you really didn’t hurt that body part in the crash because you didn’t complain about it until weeks or months after the accident.
5. Take pictures to document the crash and your injuries. If you are physically able, take pictures at the scene of the vehicles involved, the scene of the crash and any other pertinent evidence. Also, if you have bruises, cuts or scrapes, take pictures to document your physical injuries as well.
6. Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Your immediate action is important as it can become vital to settle any disputes after an accident occurs.
7. Keep copies of important documents including correspondence from insurance companies, repair bills, and medical bills. Also, keep track of your time missed from work.
8. Speak to a personal injury/auto accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. The at-fault driver(s) and their insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. Also, the laws that apply to the accident and what insurance may be available for your claims can be complex. If you wait too long to obtain legal advice, you could be compromising your legal rights or your chances of holding the at fault party or parties responsible. Also, consultation with most personal injury attorneys is free. There is no reason not to speak with an auto accident lawyer as soon as you can.