When you’re involved in an auto accident, it can be difficult to keep your wits about you and follow specific steps that can help strengthen your claim and protect your rights. However, your actions after a motor vehicle accident are important. In fact, what you do following an accident can have a big impact on whether or not you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses.
Here, we’ll explain what to do and what not to do following a car crash, to protect your health, rights, and insurance claim.
7 Tips You Must Follow After Getting into an Auto Accident
To protect your health and your legal rights after you have been involved in an auto accident follow the steps below.
- Check for Injuries and Secure Your Vehicle
In the moments following a car crash, you may feel disoriented. If you were injured, you may be in a great deal of pain and unable to get out of your vehicle or check on your passengers or the occupants of the other vehicle, in which case, try to remain calm and contact 911.
If you are able to move around and walk, check on your passengers and the other driver and their passengers. Next, if your vehicle is operational, move it off to the side of the road and turn your hazards on. Doing so will prevent another accident or traffic issues. If you’re not able to move your vehicle, try turning on your hazard lights, set out reflective emergency triangles, if you have them, and move to a safe location, away from the wreck.
- Contact 911
Contact 911 after you have checked on everyone in both vehicles.
In Georgia, you’re required to contact the police following an auto accident that results in an injury, fatality, and/or vehicle damage that exceeds $500. If you or the other driver are uninjured, but there is noticeable vehicle damage, even if you’re not sure if the cost of the damage exceeds $500 it’s always best to contact the police.
After you have contacted 911 to report the accident, you can exchange contact information and insurance policy information with the other driver. However, if the other driver is seriously injured, a passenger in their vehicle is injured, or the driver is acting aggressively or appears under the influence, keep your distance and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
- Speak with the Police ‘
Once the police arrive they will secure the accident scene. An ambulance will also arrive if anyone was injured.
During this time, when you speak with law enforcement, try to remain calm and only state the facts. Do not provide more information than needed. When the police officer asks if you’re injured, even if you feel fine, tell them you’re not sure. Keep in mind, that whatever you say to the police will be written down in what’s referred to as an accident report, collision report, or crash report. If you tell the police officer you’re not hurt, but begin to feel aches and pains hours later or the next morning, this can seriously harm your case. There are many types of injuries that will not present symptoms for several hours after an accident. Some of these injuries can be very severe.
An insurance adjuster will review the information in a police report when they’re determining whether you have a valid claim and if so, how much compensation you should receive. Later on, if you claim that you were injured after telling the police officer you were not, this could be bad for your claim.
After you have spoken with law enforcement, an officer will give you a report reference number, which you’ll need to provide, once your crash report has been processed and is ready for you to pick up at your local police station. You can provide a copy of this report to your personal injury attorney and insurance carrier.
- Obtain Evidence
If you are able to walk around, now is the time to gather evidence. If you must head directly to the hospital, ask a friend or family member to visit the crash scene and obtain this important evidence.
Take close-up photos of your injuries and vehicle damage. You must also take photos of the accident site and the surrounding area. Include photos of anything that may have contributed to your collision, such as debris on the road, potholes, missing traffic signs, or faulty traffic light.
If anyone saw the accident, obtain witness contact information.
It’s important to write down all of the crash details you can remember, including:
- Location of accident
- Your actions up until the time of the accident and after
- What the driver did and said
- A description of your injuries and vehicle damage
- Seek Medical Attention
As mentioned above, there are many types of injuries that are very serious, that only a trained medical professional can spot. Severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries, which can be fatal, may not present any noticeable symptoms for several hours. Because of this, it’s always best to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a car crash, even if you believe you sustained minor common injuries. If you don’t want to take an ambulance to the hospital you can have a friend or family member take you to the emergency room, urgent care facility, or your regular doctor, as soon as possible.
When you meet with a physician, they will closely examine you and run all of the appropriate tests to determine if you’re injured and the extent of your injuries. Once you have been released from the medical facility, you must follow the doctor’s instructions carefully and seek follow-up treatment as recommended. Any medical treatment you receive after an accident will be used as evidence of the severity of your injuries. If you fail to go to the doctor for several days or fail to follow your doctor’s treatment instructions, an insurance company will use this as evidence that you are not as seriously injured as you claim you are. Additionally, seeking medical treatment immediately after an accident will tie your injuries to the collision. Insurance adjusters may try to claim that the injuries you sustained occurred at some point after the accident if you delay medical treatment.
- Avoid Speaking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will try to speak with you as quickly as possible after an auto accident. A claims adjuster may seem helpful, friendly, and pleasant when you speak with them, but they are not on your side. They’re experienced, skilled, and trained negotiators that will do whatever it takes to deny or minimize payout for your auto insurance claim.
An insurance company is a business and its main goal is to make a profit. When an insurance adjuster speaks with you, they may request to record your statement and ask you for your side of the story. An insurance adjuster will ask to record your statement so they can pick apart what you say and use your answers as evidence that you were not seriously injured, that you caused the collision, or you were partially at fault. Insurance adjusters will use many tricks and tactics, including asking misleading, confusing questions to get you to admit fault or downplay the severity of your injuries. They may also try to offer you a quick settlement, hoping you need the money desperately and will accept their offer. However, these settlements are often very small and not nearly enough to compensate you for your damages. If the insurance company does try to contact you, avoid answering their call and instead contact an accident attorney. An attorney can handle all interactions with a claims adjuster during the insurance claim process, to protect your rights and your claim.
- Contact a Qualified Car Accident Attorney
Once you have received medical treatment, you must contact an accident attorney as soon as possible. If an insurance adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company has already tried to speak with you, avoid talking to them until you have met with an attorney.
Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. At a consultation, you can meet with an attorney and discuss your case. You’ll also find out what your legal rights and options are, so you can make an informed decision concerning how you want to pursue compensation.
After you hire an attorney, they will handle all interactions with the other driver’s insurance company, and yours. This means if the other driver’s insurance company tries to contact you again, you can simply refer them to your attorney.
Contact Cambre & Associates Today to Schedule Your Free, No-Obligation Consultation
If you were injured in an auto accident, you must contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. At Cambre and Associates we offer free, no-obligation consultations. At a consultation, you can meet with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss your case and learn what your legal rights and options are. A consultation will give you the opportunity to ask questions and speak with a knowledgeable attorney who will listen to your concerns and answer every question. If you decide to hire us, our legal team will get right to work and begin an investigation to determine liability, claim value, and fight to pursue the compensation you deserve. At Cambre and Associates, we value every client and give each case the care and attention it deserves. Contact our law office today to schedule your free consultation and let the legal team at Cambre and Associates help you pursue the compensation and justice you deserve.