What to do after a car accident
“It will never happen to me. I’ll never get sick, lose a job, get a divorce, or have an auto accident.”
That’s what we all silently say, but we do ourselves no good when we refuse to deal with life’s unpleasant realities.
This article won’t help you with all of life’s hazards and pitfalls, but it does tell you how to prepare for the inevitable car accident. That way, you can make the best of a bad situation.
Keep this article in every vehicle you own, and use the information it contains as a checklist. Perform the following tasks in the approximate order they are listed.
Don’t Leave the Scene
If you flee, you might find yourself in jail and accused of felony hit-and-run. What’s more, the police will only hear the other driver’s version of events, which may not be the same as yours. So be safe and stay put.
Check on Everyone
Make sure everybody is OK. If not, of course, dial 911 for medical assistance. This holds true for you as well. Don’t try to render first aid to anyone on your own. Even if no one is injured, always call the police and get a police report.
Obtain the following information following a car accident from the other drivers and give them the same:
• Telephone numbers
• License plate numbers
• Drivers’ license numbers
• Insurance information
From passengers, try to get their names, telephone numbers and addresses. Don’t discuss the accident with them at this time, because you might say something that others can use against you in court.
Get Information from Witnesses
Obtain the same information from observers that you did from the passengers, including their names, addresses and phone numbers. If you fail to do this at the scene, witnesses will be gone forever.
Take Photos of the car accident
Take pictures of your vehicles as soon as possible after reading this article and at regular time intervals after that, say monthly. That way, you can show your vehicle’s condition before the accident occurs.
Take pictures of where the vehicles are located in the intersection after a car accident. This can serve as proof of how the accident actually occurred.
After the car accident, take additional pictures of your car to show how the incident damaged it.
When you get home…
Tell Your Insurance Company About the Accident
State the facts clearly and succinctly. If you caused or contributed to the accident, say so. You can get into trouble if you lie to your insurance company or withhold information. If the accident was your fault, your insurance company will take care of the claim.
But Don’t Talk to Anyone Else Except Witnesses and Passengers.
To do so could jeopardize your case if you say the wrong thing. Only talk to the other insurer about fixing your car. Do not give them a statement about how the accident occurred nor any injuries you sustained.
Get the Police Report
Do so if the accident caused a great deal of property damage or someone got hurt. (The police normally won’t come to the scene of minor fender-benders, you may need to go to the station to report such accidents.) This report often gives the officer’s opinion of who caused the problem, so, obviously, it’s very important.
Track Medical Expenses
To get reimbursed for medical expenses…
• Get the names, addresses of telephone numbers of all providers. That includes physical therapists, dentists and chiropractors as well as physicians.
• Note what happened at each visit.
• Keep track of all medications your medical professional prescribed as a result of the accident.
• Of course, keep all medical bills that relate to the incident.
• Finally, request medical records from every provider.
Documenting Pain and Suffering is Harder, But Necessary
To receive money for you pain and suffering…
• Track all lost work days and wages.
• Document your lack of sleep, if applicable. For example, note the nights you slept intermittently due to the pain or anxiety the accident caused.
• Note specifically how the accident affected your family life. Do you yell at your spouse and kids more? Has the incident affected your sex life? Have you had to go to marital counseling as a result of the accident?
• What activities of daily living are you unable to do, or do with pain, such as household chores.
Think Carefully About Settlement Officers
Your insurer or the ones representing the other parties might send a very nice claims adjuster to you shortly after the accident. She might make a quick offer. What the adjuster may not tell you is you may have to pay back your health insurance or unpaid bills from any settlement. You’ll find out the settlement you thought you were getting is not really what you get. Think long and hard before taking it, because your accident might be worth much more.
To find out…
Consider Talking to an Attorney
An experienced accident lawyer such as McCready Law can evaluate the situation to determine how much compensation you might receive for your accident. And we only get paid after you do, and only a percentage of the final settlement.
If you decide to discuss the accident with an attorney, please feel free to call us for a complimentary consultation from one of our caring lawyers.
We will take the time to answer all your questions so that you will know all your rights.
If you’d like to discuss your accident with us at McCready Law, please call (773) 779-9885.