Being involved in a car accident can be extremely stressful. They never occur at a good time, create unnecessary inconvenience, and usually result in needless bills to pay. But, being injured in a car accident caused by a careless driver makes matters much, much worse. People that are hurt in car accidents are usually confused and have many questions about what to do. They have medical bills coming in the mail, letters and phone calls from insurance adjusters, and may be missing time at work causing lost wages. The stress, shock and uncertainty following a car crash and injuries may cause an accident victim to fail to deal with the situation in a calm and diligent manner. Knowing what to ask and what to do following an accident can decrease the likelihood of stress following a car crash.
If you are thinking, “What do I do if I am involved in a car accident?” then here are some things to consider.
- After a car crash, you should make sure your vehicle is secure and determine if anyone is hurt. Don’t forget about yourself. This may sound silly, but the adrenaline rush from a car crash can mask the pain or symptoms of an injury. If anyone is hurt, call 911 right away to get medical attention. Remember, all things aside, safety and care are the most important matters to consider in a motor vehicle accident.
- The next step is to take a moment for yourself to gather your thoughts so you can collect all the information you may need. Try to control your emotions so that you can remember exactly what happened. What you remember might be very helpful if the other driver has a different opinion as to how the accident happened.
- If you are not too injured, try taking pictures of the scene, including all vehicles involved and the roadways and traffic signs/signals. Pictures can be extremely helpful in a personal injury case. Pictures may help you prove your case and can eliminate an insurance company’s ability to deny a bodily injury claim or place blame on your for causing the accident. If you are too injured to take the pictures yourself, see if there is anyone around that may be able to take the pictures for you.
- If there are witnesses, try to get their names and contact information. Also, they may be able to help you take pictures. Collecting the witness’ names and contact information will allow you or your attorney to get an impartial statement of how the accident happened. We have handled many injury cases where an insurance company denies a claim because they believe and rely on their insured’s recollection or explanation of how the accident happened. Our clients have explained to us that there were witnesses, either walking on the sidewalk or driving nearby, but their identities were never obtained. The witnesses could have helped resolve the dispute. Remember, witnesses can be a huge help to an accident victim in pursuing a successful claim for damages.
- Be sure to get the other party’s information. This information will include their full name, address, phone number, insurance company, and license plate number. This is particularly important to record if 911 is not called. If 911 was called, the motor vehicle crash report (or police report) will usually record this information, but it can’t hurt to get the information yourself.
- Following the accident, be sure to report the accident to your auto insurance company. Your auto insurance coverage provides Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” benefits. PIP benefits are available to pay a certain amount of medical bills and lost wages after a car accident.
- Lastly, you should always consult with an experienced personal injury attorney after being injured in a car accident. Getting legal help and advice will ensure you take the appropriate steps toward receiving the maximum financial compensation you deserve for the injuries you suffered and damages you incurred. An experienced and knowledgeable injury lawyer will counsel you through the process of a bodily injury claim, protect your rights, and help you avoid the pitfalls of a personal injury claim.
While there are many other things to consider and do after an accident, the above steps will be a great starting point toward getting the money you deserve for the injuries you suffered. Injury claims can be very complex and insurance companies do not just hand out money for injuries. So, be sure to gather as much information as you can and get legal help.