Being involved in a car accident is never a fun or favorable experience. No one ever hopes to become injured as a result of a car accident. However, people make mistakes, and car accidents occur every day as a result.
The actions you take immediately following a car accident can have serious consequences down the line, if not handled properly.
Read on to learn what you should do if you’re involved in a car accident.
Steps to Take
If you’re involved in a car accident, there are particular actions that need to be taken in order to protect yourself or for an injury or property damage claim to run smoothly. The following are steps to take immediately after a car accident:
1. Don’t drive away.
While this may seem obvious, there is an astounding number of hit and run accidents that occur in the United States each year. A hit and run accident can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the wreck. Protect your freedom and your rights by not leaving the scene of the accident.
2. Safeguard the scene.
Turn your hazard lights on so that other drivers know something is wrong. Set up flares or warning triangles if you have them. It’s a good idea to keep a flashlight in your car in case the accident occurs at night and there are no street lights in the area.
3. Call the authorities.
Regardless of the severity of the accident, you should have the police come to take a report. Their report can substantially help you later on because it may help prove your innocence in the wreck. Unless the vehicles are impeding the flow of traffic, leave them where they are so the authorities can see the results of the accident.
4. Take a detailed record.
Be sure to tell the officer taking the report what happened exactly as you remember it, and don’t engage in any speculation. Also, be sure that the other party(s) involved in the accident provides an accurate report to the police. If there’s anything you’re unsure about, tell the officer that you’re unsure rather than making assumptions. If you can’t tell whether you’re injured, just tell the officer that you don’t know, rather than saying “no.” Oftentimes, injuries resulting from car accidents don’t present themselves right away. When your body goes through trauma, it has a tendency to go into shock. When your body goes into shock, it increases adrenaline production, which can prevent you from feeling the pain of your injuries.
5. Take photos.
Take images of all visible damage to the vehicles involved, as well as any other damages present. Additionally, if you have any injuries that can be seen, photograph them as well. When taking photos, make sure that you’re not getting in the way of the police investigation.
6. Trade information.
The police officers investigating the accident will likely attain information from everyone involved in the accident. However, you may also obtain this information yourself. You should attain the following information from the other people—drivers and passengers—involved in the accident:
- Phone number
If there were any witnesses to the accident, you should obtain the aforementioned information from them, too. Additionally, be sure to get the following information from the other driver(s) involved in the accident:
- Auto insurance information
- Vehicle registration
- Driver’s license
You’ll need to get the police report information so that you’re able to obtain it once it becomes available.
7. Pursue medical care.
You may not immediately notice your injuries from the accident. Once you do notice any injuries, it’s important to be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible after the accident. Because your body goes into shock after enduring trauma, your body increases its adrenaline production. The increase in adrenaline can shield your body from the pain of your injuries. Even if your injuries seem relatively minor, they may have significant long-term consequences. So, regardless of how severe your injuries may be, it’s a good idea to get checked out no matter what. If you lost consciousness or felt dazed for even just a few moments following the collision, it’s possible for you to have sustained a concussion or closed head injury. If left untreated, you could endure cognitive and behavioral changes as a result.
8. Contact your attorney.
Talk to your attorney about what happened and discuss your options for moving forward. Your attorney will make efforts to ensure that your rights are protected and that valuable evidence is preserved. You should never talk to the insurance company without first consulting your attorney. Your attorney may want to speak to the insurance company for you so that you don’t say anything that could ultimately hurt your claim. Your attorney will endeavor to avoid making statements to the insurance company that may hurt your case or claim.
9. Provide a report to the insurance company.
You don’t necessarily have to do this yourself because your attorney is legally allowed to do this for you if you so choose. Additionally, if you’d rather provide a report to the insurance company yourself, you have the right to provide it in writing rather than over the phone. Providing a written account of what happened gives you more time and space to think about how you want to explain the crash to the insurance company. You are likely required to give notice of a crash to your insurance carrier—even if you are not at fault.
10. Keep a detailed record.
It’s a good idea to keep all of your accident-related documents together and well-organized. The information included should be a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who handles your claim, the names and phone numbers of all contacts related to the incident, and receipts for any expenses related to the accident.
We’re Here to Help
If you’re involved in a car accident, you want to secure the best representation possible so that you have the highest chances of obtaining a favorable outcome for your case. Our attorneys here at Obenshain Law Group are highly experienced in car accident cases, and we’ve helped many other people just like you. Let us help you, too. Don’t hesitate to contact our firm about your case right away.
If you or a loved one is ever involved in a crash, our Virginia auto accident lawyers at Obenshain Law Group can help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (540) 318-7360 or fill out an online contact form.