What should I do after an auto accident?
3 things to remember
After you have been in an accident, your life could undergo dramatic changes. Events will be rapid if not overwhelming. It is vital that you protect yourself in the days to come. The attorneys at McGahren Law believe that there are three actions you can take to improve your outcome.
Just three actions:
DOCUMENT. VERIFY. ACT.
1) DOCUMENT — Everything
You need evidence. Evidence you don’t record may not be available later. If you are incapacitated, seek the help of someone around you.
- Take pictures and video of the vehicles and the area around your accident. Record the location of any cameras that may have captured your accident, including ATMs, Convenience Stores, and Traffic Light Cameras. Entrance Cameras to homes are more common now, so consider those as well.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses.
- Obtain insurance and contact information from other driver(s) involved. Provide ONLY the information on your insurance card.
- Record your expenses and events, especially medical records and bills.
2) VERIFY — Avoid Assumptions
After a crash, your heart is pumping. You may not feel pain or be clear-headed. Now is not the time to make poor decisions.
- DO NOT assume you are not injured. Seek medical attention immediately after the accident. Even if you do not think you are hurt now, injuries can take time to appear hours or up to a day later. Any delays in treatment harm your case.
- DO NOT assume fault or strongly blame another. Briefly tell the officer on the scene the facts as you know them without embellishment. Later you may remember some details, or the evidence may indicate something you did not know about at the time. What you don’t say won’t hurt you.
- DO NOT assume the officer has all the information. Tell the officer who you believe is at fault and why. Do so calmly and without emotion. If you found a witness to reinforce your story, point him or her out to the officer for a statement. Know that the accident report is a key piece of evidence and it must be accurate and clear.
- DO NOT assume that the insurance company is on your side. Tell them what they need to file the report and no more. Immediately call the insurance company of the person(s) who hit you since there is no guarantee the other driver will make that call.
- DO NOT agree to any settlement or make statements without legal advice.
- DO NOT assume that talking or writing about your case cannot be used against you. Posts to social media, texts on cell phones, and people who witness your activity can be used in court.
3) ACT — Don’t Delay
Time is critical. What you do immediately after an accident can make or break your chances of getting your life back on track.
- Call 911 or the police. You need an officer on the scene to create an accident report and determine fault. This guarantees the insurance company knows when and how your car was damaged and that it caused your injury.
- Ensure that everyone involved is safe and check for serious injuries. If possible, move the vehicles to the side of the road. Secure the scene by keeping your flashers on, setting out flares or cones, or otherwise drawing attention to the disabled vehicles.
- Get statements from witnesses while their memory is clear.
- Most importantly, don’t learn by your mistakes. Call an attorney who provides a FREE consultation.