No one leaves home expecting to get in an accident, but unfortunately, they happen to most of us at some point in our lives. While it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed following an accident, there are certain things you should remember to do to maximize your compensation due to the accident down the road.
With your protection in mind, there are steps you should be prepared to take after two common types of accidents: automobile and premises liability (slip/trip and fall). In this post, we will address automobile accidents.
Knowing what to do after a collision can significantly reduce the stress of the situation and will help you in a potential personal injury case. Most people in a motor vehicle collision are in a state of shock after the collision and do not know what to do.
From severe multi-vehicle highway pile-ups to minor incidents like being bumped in a parking lot, there are millions of accidents on U.S. roads every year. While most accidents aren’t fatal, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, over 2.35 million people are injured or disabled from U.S. road crashes annually. Injuries from motor vehicle collisions are usually very painful, stressful and can result in steep medical bills.
Your immediate priority after a collision should be to check the condition of yourself and others involved in the accident, seek emergency medical care if needed, and protect yourself if the collision has caused hazardous obstacles on the road.
Here’s what else you should remember to do:
- Take photos. Photographs are strong evidence that can be used to strengthen auto accident personal injury claims.
- First, photos can help prove who was at fault for causing the collision. Make sure to take pictures of all involved vehicles, the scene, the surrounding area of the collision, and any posted traffic signs.
- Second, photos can help prove the severity of the collision. Make sure to take photos that show the full extent of the damage to the vehicles involved in the collision.
- Finally, it is important to take photos of your actual injuries. Any bruises, abrasions, cuts, bleeding, or swelling should be photographed. It is also important to take photos at different stages of your recovery as that will help to show what you went through in recovering from your injuries sustained in the motor vehicle collision. While it is important to take photos, do not post any photos of your injuries or the collision on social media.
- In most cases, call the police. The police should almost always be called, with the exception being accidents where nobody is hurt, there is only minimal damage to property, and the aftermath is not creating a road hazard. The police are often the first to arrive on the scene of a crash and can provide emergency medical assistance to injured parties before EMTs and paramedics arrive. They can also help redirect traffic around the accident if necessary.
- Be cautious while giving a police report. Police reports frequently come into play in personal injury claims, so it’s important you don’t accidentally say something that can hurt your case. Never lie to a police officer about an accident, but be careful when answering questions and only answer questions that you absolutely know the answer to. In particular, be very cautious when giving speed or time estimates. Human perception is flawed, and it is very easy to give overestimates regarding speed or time.
- Consult with a medical expert. Seek out a doctor to determine whether you sustained any injuries and to receive treatment. Even minor pain or discomfort after an accident can be the sign of a slower-to-develop, serious injuries like whiplash or a concussion. When asked to give a history of your injuries, make sure to be very detailed and note every body part that is injured, even if you think it is a minor injury. Seeking medical treatment immediately also provides you with the documentation for your personal injury claim. If you delay medical treatment for too long, insurance companies may try to dismiss or diminish your claim by using the argument that delayed treatment means the motor vehicle collision did not cause the injury or the injury was not serious.
- Notify your insurance company about the accident. Often, auto insurance companies will only allow you to retain insurance coverage if you notify them of an accident immediately or within a few days. If you fail to report an accident promptly, your insurance company can deny you coverage. Give them basic background information such as the date, time, and location of the accident as well as the names and addresses of the involved parties. Even if you were not at fault in the collision, it is still important to notify your own insurance company about the collision. Your insurance company will handle the property damage for you, may provide Medpay coverage for you, and may provide Uninsured Insured Motorist Coverage for you. Do not give a recorded statement without consulting with a lawyer first.
- Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. An experienced auto accident lawyer will help you understand your rights, prepare you to give a statement to your insurance company and help you navigate the legal process of getting compensated for the damages the accident caused. Car accident injuries often translate to steep medical bills, with severe bodily injury claims often exceeding tens of thousands of dollars. In addition to being compensated for your medical bills, you are legally entitled to receive compensation for your physical injuries, physical pain, mental anguish, inconvenience, and lost wages, if the accident prevents you from being able to work. Experienced personal injury lawyers such as us at Curcio Law will help maximize your recovery through all avenues available to you.