When you get into a car accident, a clock begins ticking on important steps that need to be taken within a specific window of time. The primary reason for taking these important steps in a timely manner is so that you can protect your rights to maximum compensation for any injuries you may have sustained.
The problem is that a car accident disrupts your life, creating additional stress and worry as you try to navigate your normal day-to-day routine while trying to take care of all the details related to the timeline of requirements.
This post will offer five important things you should do immediately after a car accident. These five tips should help reduce the stress and anxiety you might otherwise experience after a car crash.
Tip # 1: Call 911
The first tip is to call 911 if you or anyone else was injured. This will initiate the medical process that will be necessary as things progress. And even if you weren’t injured, it’s still a good idea to visit a doctor right after the accident to get checked out.
Because of the adrenaline and confusion that happens right after an accident, injuries such as sore muscles or bulging discs may not appear until several days, or weeks, later. So having seen a doctor right after the accident will put a medical case record in motion. This type of paperwork trail is extremely important to have in place as time passes.
Tip #2: Contact the Police
The second tip is to call the police right after the accident and get a police report filed. You want to file a police report because oftentimes an attorney, or even an individual who was in the accident but doesn’t have an attorney, will use the police report to help establish who’s actually at fault.
Without a police report documenting what happened on the spot, you can experience a situation where the other individual ends up lying or misrepresenting what happened.
If you have a police report that establishes who was at fault, that is going to be the best way to go forward with a claim, whether you have an attorney or not.
In certain cases, if the accident is not serious or the police too busy on other matters to come to the scene, you should still call the police and get it on record that you were involved in an accident.
Then, ideally, that day, or the day after, go to the police station and request that a report be filed with regards to your notice given when you called from the accident scene.
Tip #3: Preserve the Evidence
The third tip, and this primarily applies if you were not seriously injured and were able to stay at the scene, is preserve the evidence. Use your mobile phone to take pictures of the scene, including the road, skid marks if they are visible, damage to your car and other cars, etc.
Without this evidence, you can diminish the quality of your claim because once you, and the cars involved, leave the scene, you lose control over the evidence. And sometimes it may be weeks before you see your car, or the other car, again — and a lot could have changed with the condition in that period of time.
Bottom line, you can’t over document your case, so get as many pictures on site as possible.
Tip #4: Don’t Make a Recorded Statement
The fourth tip is don’t make a recorded statement with the insurance company about injuries if you are not represented by an attorney.
The reason? If you do make a recorded statement, it can actually be used against you later if the insurance company happens to deny your claim or if you end up ultimately having to file a lawsuit.
Remember — since some injuries take days or weeks to appear. So if you felt fine right after the accident and told the insurance company that, only to find out a week later you were experiencing muscle pain in your neck, the insurance company could deny the claim based on the fact that you are on record as having said you felt fine.
Tip #5: Contact Auto and Health Insurance Companies
The fifth tip is to contact both your auto and health insurance providers to check up on the type of coverage you have. Since you probably don’t deal with your auto and health insurance companies on a regular basis, you may not be aware of coverage you have that you are not using — or have the option to use — in the case of an auto accident.
For example, you may not know that you have a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) clause in your auto insurance policy. In case the other driver is either under-insured or uninsured, having PIP opens up the possibility that your medical bills can be paid without having to come out of your pocket, saving money and eliminating a source of stress in the process.
Tip# 6: Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
The sixth tip is to consult a personal injury attorney after an accident to determine if you need representation. Many personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation, and in this session, your attorney will be able to tell you whether or not you have a case that will require representation.
One primary reason to hire a personal injury attorney is what’s known as a Letter of Protection. This means that, while medical bills may be piling up after the accident, your personal injury lawyer is negotiating with doctors to lower your bills, relieving you from the worry and hassle of trying to negotiate these bills yourself. This step can also delay the need for you to pay medical bills you might incur until after a settlement.
So the Letter of Protection saves you both headaches and money, allowing you to get your life back on track much sooner than you might have anticipated.
In conclusion, a car accident, no matter how big or small, can cause a significant amount of stress and grief, not to mention money out-of-pocket if you’re not properly insured or represented.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer eliminates the guesswork you’ll face when the timeline starts ticking after an accident. The benefit is the ability to get your life back on track sooner than later, without the worries and hassles that accompany the aftermath of an accident.