What to Do After an Accident ?

No matter how careful you are, sometimes there is no avoiding someone else’s negligence.  Whether you have been rear ended, t-boned, side swiped, or hit head on, the result is always the same: persistent pain that lasts much longer than you would expect, and the hassle of trying to get your car repaired, going to doctor appointments, and trying to get what you deserve from an insurance company that is trying to get away with paying you as little as possible.  While even simple claims can benefit from the assistance of an attorney that knows what your claim is worth, there are a few things that you should know to do from the instant the initial shock wears off.

  1. The first step is always to check your own wellbeing.  Even if you have passengers, you must first determine the nature of your own injuries before attempting to assist another.  If you are too injured to move, call 911 immediately or request that a bystander call for you.

  1. If you are able to move safely, check with the other driver(s) and passengers to see if they require immediate assistance.

  1. Even if no one appears to be suffering a serious injury, you should still call 911.  It is not uncommon for an at-fault driver to apologize and claim responsibility at the scene of the accident and then change their tune later.  Having a police officer respond and complete an independent accident report can save you a lot of problems down the line.

  1. Take photos of the property damage.  The insurance company is going to take photos of the vehicles as they are repaired and you want to have just as much evidence as the insurance company, if not more.  Property damage photos can establish how the accident happened and how severe the impact was.

  1. Request the other driver’s insurance information. Police officers will often tell you “It will be in the police report” when you ask them about the other driver’s insurance or contact information.  While this is usually true, it can take days or even weeks for a police report to be released.  If you were not able to get the insurance information at the scene, that’s time that you may be out of pocket on a rental car or have no transportation at all.  There is no need to get confrontational, but I do recommend you strongly request at least the other driver’s name and insurance information at the scene of the accident.

  1. See a doctor promptly.  Insurance companies evaluate the value of the claim based on the victim’s pain and suffering, but there is no way to objectively measure another person’s pain.  Instead, they look to see how quickly and how often you sought medical assistance.  Pain from a car accident may not appear until after the adrenaline and shock have worn off hours after the accident, so it is understandable for a crash victim to wait a day or two after an accident to seek medical advice.  Unfortunately for the victim, waiting any longer than that to see a doctor will start to reduce the value of your claim.  I have repeatedly heard the argument from the adjusters that because a client waited X number of days to see the doctor, they weren’t valuing their pain and suffering claim very highly.  In the real world, injured parties have to schedule around work, family obligations, and financial realities before they’re able to go to the hospital, and some doctors will even refuse to see car accident victims because they think dealing with auto insurance is too much of a headache.  This is another reason why you should consider getting an attorney; we are experts in finding you medical treatment that specializes in your injuries and we can arrange for you to receive treatment with no upfront costs to you.

  1. Be careful about what you put on social media.  Insurance companies are very tech savvy, and they will snoop through your social media pages to find evidence to use against you.  Were you bored while recovering at home and decided to post a photo of you picking up your three-year-old niece from before the accident? Do not be surprised if an adjuster later claims that must be exaggerating your physical limitations to get more money.  When it comes to your injury claim, the best course of action is to take a little vacation from your social media accounts.

  1. Call an experienced attorney.  Not every claim is viable, but everyone can benefit from a free consultation to help you determine what your next steps are.  There are numerous little mistakes that a person can make that could negatively affect their claim.  My heart goes out to the clients that call weeks or even months after an accident when they have tried to handle a claim on their own and all I can do is try to salvage the case.  The earlier you get an attorney involved, the sooner any issues or obstacles can be addressed and avoided.  There is no upfront charge when dealing with a personal injury attorney that works on a contingency fee and you should not hesitate to reach out to get answers to any questions you might have.