Each year, over 38,000 people in the U.S. die in fatal car wrecks and 4.4 million more need medical attention due to their injuries. Direct medical costs associated with car accidents total over $380 million.
When you’re in a car wreck, your adrenaline starts rushing through your body. You might not know what to do next because you’re so shaken up. How you react can affect your safety and your settlement if you’re entitled to one.
Keep reading for seven things you need to do after a car accident.
Make Sure Everyone Is Safe
Safety is the top priority after an accident. First, assess yourself to make sure you’re not seriously injured. If you have passengers, check on them to look for serious injuries.
Next, move your vehicle to the side of the road if possible, as long as there aren’t serious injures. Leaving it in the road can lead to another accident or additional injuries.
It’s also important to move yourself and all passengers to a safe area if no one is seriously injured. Move to the sidewalk or another area off of the road away from traffic.
If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 and provide basic first aid until help arrives. Avoid moving seriously injured people if possible, as moving them could make the injuries worse.
Call 911 if the accident involves injuries or serious damage. If it’s a minor accident, you should still contact the police to file a report. State laws indicate when you’re required to report an accident, but it’s best to report whether or not you’re required to do so.
In most states, you need to report the accident if there are any injuries or deaths. States also require you to report the accident if the property damage exceeds a certain amount, which varies by state. Each state also sets the amount of time you have to file your accident report after the car wreck happens.
Calling the police before you leave the scene is the best option. If it’s a serious accident, leaving the scene without contacting police can result in charges against you. The responding officer collects evidence and statements to compile the report, so ask for a copy of the police report to keep in your records.
If you’re not injured, gather evidence that could help your case. Photos of the damage and accident scene from various angles are especially helpful.
Talk to witnesses who weren’t directly involved in the accident. Ask them what they saw before, during, and after the accident. You can also ask for their contact information, but don’t push them if they don’t feel comfortable giving it.
You need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved. You can exchange this information directly with the other people, but the responding police officer might also facilitate the information exchange.
If you talk to the other party, limit what you say, sticking to the information exchange. Don’t admit any fault, apologize, or otherwise indicate that you could be guilty.
Keep your emotions under control when talking to the other involved parties. Don’t accuse the other person of causing the accident, and don’t yell at the other parties. Staying calm and limiting what you say can help your case if you have to fight for compensation.
Get Medical Attention
If you or anyone in your car is seriously injured, you’ll likely be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Medical attention is taken care of before anything else.
If you have a minor car wreck injury, take yourself to the doctor once you wrap things up at the scene. Even if the injury seems minor, a medical assessment allows your doctor to determine the extent of the injury and start treatment immediately. This can prevent the injury from becoming worse.
It’s still a good idea to see a doctor even if you walked away from the accident or don’t notice any major injuries. Because of the adrenaline in your system, you might not notice a car wreck injury immediately. Your doctor might notice issues that you overlooked or didn’t feel.
Some injuries might not cause symptoms right away. Symptoms for a traumatic brain injury or concussion might not show up until days or weeks later. An assessment by your doctor can result in an earlier diagnosis.
Contact the Insurance Company
You’ll need to report the accident to the car insurance company and file a claim. Your car insurance company might have a certain time limit during which you need to contact them about the accident. Once you call them, they can advise you on what to do next.
If it’s a straightforward accident, you can likely handle the claim on your own. More complex cases can be difficult to handle on your own and benefit from a lawyer on your side. Car insurance companies use very skilled attorneys, so having one on your side can even the playing field.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney
You might be hesitant to contact an auto accident attorney, but hiring a professional can help you get the best possible resolution for your case. Just because you hire a lawyer doesn’t mean you have to file a car wreck lawsuit. Your attorney can help you negotiate a settlement with the insurance company to avoid going to trial.
Insurance adjusters know all the tricks to give you as little money as possible. Their job is to save the insurance company money. They’ll often push you into signing a low settlement, and you won’t be able to go back for more money later.
A car wreck lawyer knows the tricks insurance companies use, and they know how to fight back. They aren’t intimidated by adjusters, and they’ll push to get you a higher settlement.
Lawyers also know how to evaluate your injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering to get a fair settlement number. You might not realize how much you’re entitled to.
If you need to file a lawsuit after car wreck injuries or damages, your lawyer handles the paperwork for you. They represent you in court to increase your chances of winning.
Handle Your Car Wreck Correctly
Knowing what to do after a car wreck can help keep you and your passengers safe immediately after the crash. Your next steps can also determine what happens with the car accident settlement, especially if someone else is at fault. Do these seven things to get the best possible resolution for the situation.
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