Step-by-Step Guide: What to Do If You’re Injured in a Car Accident
Emotions can run high at the scene of a crash, and if you’ve been injured in a car accident, it can be difficult to remember what you’re supposed to do—and what you’re not supposed to do. Take a look at this step-by-step list of the process, and contact the personal injury lawyers at Wettermark Keith to discuss your case!
WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOUR CAR ACCIDENT
If you’ve been seriously injured, it may be difficult for you to take action immediately after your accident. But if you can, you should do the following:
Step 1: Stay on the Scene
It’s important to remain at the scene of the accident as long as your injuries are not life-threatening and don’t require emergency medical attention. If you do leave, especially if someone else has been hurt, you could face serious penalties as a “hit-and-run” driver.
Step 2: Assess Medical Needs
Before you take inventory of property damage, check on everyone involved in the crash and get medical attention for anyone who need it. Do not move anyone who is unconscious or experiencing head or neck pain unless there is a hazard that requires you to do so.
Step 3: Contact the Police
Call the police and ask that a police report be filed regarding the accident. Be sure to get the names and badge numbers of the officers who respond to your call.
Step 4: Exchange Information
Obtain contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information from each driver involved in the accident. You should also try to get contact information from passengers, as well. Always be polite and cooperative during this process—but don’t apologize for anything at the scene. If you do, you could be unintentionally admitting fault, which could cause problems later on.
Step 5: Interview Witnesses
Get contact information for witnesses and ask them what they saw. Even if you plan to contact them later for a more detailed account, it’s good to go ahead and ask for the basics at the scene of the accident. They may forget important details as time passes.
Step 6: Take Pictures
Pictures can really help in evaluating property damage, personal injury, and more. If you can do this at the scene of the accident, do so. Pictures of the position of the cars, as well as medical conditions at the scene, may prove useful later on.
Step 7: Contact Your Insurance Company
When you call your insurance company, you should be cooperative and upfront with them about the circumstances of the accident. Explain things in a clear way and make sure you aren’t being dishonest about anything, which could result in major trouble—like denial of coverage for your claim. Get the police report from the crash and review it so that you understand all the details of the accident.
Step 8: Keep Track of Medical Treatment
Ensure that you have copies of any medical records, medications, doctor visits, referrals to other caregivers from providers, and other information pertaining to your post-accident health. Keep track of how your injuries have impacted your everyday life as well (this is known as "pain and suffering" and is a bit difficult to document than medical care). Days lost from work, activities you are unable to undertake, and the impact your injuries have had on your family life should all be considered.
Step 9: Obtain a Property Damage Valuation
Get your insurance company’s damage valuation, and if you’re not satisfied with it, get a couple of independent repair estimates or quotes for replacement. Then, inform the adjustor of your results, and seek mediation if you cannot come to an agreement.
FOLLOWING UP ON YOUR CAR ACCIDENT
After you’ve left the scene, there are still things to do.
- Continue Seeking Medical Treatment: Serious injuries require serious medical attention. Get the care you need as soon as possible.
- Document Your Treatment: Record everything that happens, including all treatment that you need or will receive. This includes statements from your doctors.
- Get Accident Reports: Get as much official documentation from the police that you can about the accident, including an incident report at the least.
- Keep All Your Receipts: If you have an expense related to your accident, keep the receipts. This includes medical bills.
- Be Careful Talking to the Insurance Company: Be polite and give them your basic information, but don’t give them details of the accident unless you’ve spoken with an attorney. Their best interests aren’t the same as yours.
- Don’t Agree to a Settlement: You may even receive an early settlement offer. Don’t accept any agreement because chances are it’s much lower than what you can get or what you deserve. Again, talk to a lawyer first before you even entertain a discussion with an insurance company.
WHAT IF I HAVE A CAR ACCIDENT OUTSIDE OF MY STATE?
There can be a lot of variation from one state to another when it comes to personal injury laws. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the regulations in each state you travel through, and to know what steps you should take if you are involved in a car accident outside of your state.
Car accidents may seem unlikely, but take a moment to think about how often you drive across state lines. Whether you travel for business or leisure, you’re likely to find yourself driving through another state at some point in your life — and if a car accident does happen outside of your own state, it’s incredibly beneficial to already have an idea of the next steps to take instead of trying to figure everything out in the heat of the moment.
ADHERING TO UNIQUE STATE LAWS
We always hope to have a safe trip to our destination, but if misfortune strikes and you have an accident in another state, you may wonder which set of rules will apply: the ones from the state your car is registered in, or the ones in the state where the accident occurred.
The answer is the second option. If you are from Alabama but you have a car wreck in Georgia, the state laws of Georgia will be the ones adhered to. There may be specific circumstances that could change this, but only a very experienced, knowledgeable attorney would be able to determine that.
Some factors that may impact your personal injury claim are:
- The at-fault party
- The location of the accident
- The location of the filing of the personal injury claim
AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THIS DOCUMENT
Motor vehicle accidents can be frightening and disorienting. After the cars come to a stop and everyone has received medical attention, it’s time to focus on what happens next – and that includes gathering documentation to potentially pursue legal action if you were injured.
There’s one document in particular that may impact your case that you probably didn’t know existed. Yet, it can be one of the most important documents in your case.
This document is a part of your insurance policy, and it’s called the declarations page. Here’s why it’s important.
WHAT IS THE DECLARATIONS PAGE?
This document, sometimes known as the "dec" page, is generally one page long and offers a summary of your insurance coverage. It generally comprises a variety of acronyms that you may not understand, but which imply crucial things in your future case.
WHY DO I NEED A DEC PAGE?
One question we commonly get is this: “If I wasn’t at fault, why do I need to know about my insurance policy?”
Even if you weren’t at fault, your insurance policy is still important. There are two situations in which this matters. The first is when you have medical expenses to pay for. If you have medical payment coverage, the policy will pay a fixed amount toward your medical treatment, and you’ll be able to choose where you get treatment.
The second situation is when the other driver doesn’t have insurance. You may have UM, or uninsured motorist, coverage. It also comes with a number, like 50/100. Those numbers, multiplied by 1,000, tell you how much you are covered for even if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. (They’re required to by law, but too many times they don’t.)
Long story short, your car accident attorney can use your dec page to determine the feasibility of your case and determine how much you can recover.
Injured in a Car Accident? Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer!
One of the best things you can do after you’ve been injured in a car accident is to hire a personal injury lawyer. They can ensure that your case is handled properly and that you receive all of the compensation you are entitled to.
At Wettermark Keith, we have the experience and the determination to help you get your life back on track by holding those responsible who have caused your suffering. Contact us today for more information or to set up a free consultation.
If you are injured in a car accident, it is critical that you remain at the scene, assess your medical needs, contact the police, exchange information with other drivers and witnesses, take pictures, contact your insurance company, keep track of medical treatment, obtain a property damage valuation, and speak with others about the accident with caution. For legal counsel, consult with a personal injury attorney.
HERE'S WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you or a loved one have been injured and think you might have a case, call us now for a free consultation.