Getting into a car accident can be a very scary experience, and your mind may be racing afterward. You may have been on your way to work or to pick up your kids, but now you have to deal with the accident. There are many things that you should do after an accident, but there are three critical steps that car accident lawyers say must always be taken.
Things You Must Say
Immediately after your accident, check yourself, your passengers, and the other driver involved for injuries. Then, you must report the accident to the authorities by calling 911. You must tell them the condition of the people involved, especially if someone needs immediate medical attention.
You must also exchange the following information with the other driver:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Car insurance policy information
- Driver’s license information
You must also get the contact information from witnesses and passengers in the vehicles, though you do not need to get their car insurance or driver’s license information.
When the police arrive, you must also give a statement. It’s important to understand what to say and what not to say when talking to the police. You have to give them your name and contact information, and you will be asked what happened, but you should never speculate on how the accident happened, accuse the other driver of breaking the law or apologize for causing the accident. Simply state what you heard and saw before the accident, where you felt the impacts, and anything the driver said to you.
The police should give you a copy of the report before you leave. This document is important to provide to the insurance company and to your personal injury attorney later. You want to leave the site of the accident with the police report in hand so that it is not changed after you leave.
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Things You Must Do
You must take pictures of the scene of the accident. This is the only time the accident scene will ever look that way, so before it is cleaned up, you should document what happened. Here are some tips to get the best pictures:
- Make sure to include the license plates in some of your pictures so that it is easily discernible which car belongs to a driver.
- Take pictures of street signs, traffic signals, speed limit signs, and obstructions. Get pictures from a safe distance to show the entire scene and pictures that show the condition of the road.
Things You Must Follow Up On
When you finish taking pictures of the scene of the accident and providing the necessary information to the responding police officer, you should immediately head to the nearest emergency room to be assessed for injuries. Even if you don’t think that you have been injured, you may be suffering from injuries that may not present symptoms for several hours.
Traumatic brain injuries, for example, may present as a slight headache at first but can steadily become more painful. Whiplash is a common neck injury caused by the sudden whipping motion of the neck back and forth from the impact, straining the muscles in the neck. Whiplash is another injury that most car accident victims don’t feel at first but then hours or days later, their neck is stiff, and they can’t move it. Internal bleeding happens when the body is compressed against a seatbelt, the airbag or a hard object inside of the car, thus bruising the organs. The force of the compression can burst capillaries, which can become a life-threatening situation within several hours.
You will also need to report the accident to the insurance company, but before you do that, you should hire a personal injury attorney who can speak with them on your behalf. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to trick accident victims into saying something that can be construed to make them seem more responsible for causing the accident. The goal of this practice is to save the insurance company money by paying you less than you deserve. A personal injury attorney specializing in car accidents is your legal advocate and guide and can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. In fact, an experienced car accident attorney can walk you through the entire process so that it is much less stressful and you can spend more time focusing on your recovery.