What Should I Do Immediately Following a Car Accident? 

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A man makes a phone call after a car accident.

Getting into a car collision can be a stressful experience, even if only minor damage was sustained. Every driver needs to know what to do following an accident. When you are in the midst of such an event, you will need to know what to do in a time where thinking clearly may be difficult. Below you will find a list of steps to take immediately following an accident:

1. Always Remain at the Scene of a Car Accident

Except in the case of major accidents with serious injuries, no matter how minor the accident, you will need to turn on your emergency flashers and pull your vehicle over to the side of the road. You should not get out of the car at this point. If you leave the scene without waiting for the police and exchanging information with the other driver, you may face serious legal repercussions.

2. Check for Injuries Immediately

It is imperative that if anyone in the vehicle complains of neck or back pain or appears unconscious that you do not try to move them. Try to keep the individual calm and talk to them until the ambulance arrives. However, if you smell gasoline or the car becomes engulfed in flames, you must evacuate the passengers immediately. If evacuating a passenger, try to support the person’s head, neck, and back the best you can. Call 9-1-1 directly to request an ambulance and a police officer to make a report if needed. Alternatively, try to flag down another individual to make the call.

If you have severe injuries, leave the scene of the accident in an ambulance. Immediate medical care can make a huge difference in your ability to protect yourself and recover after a severe accident. Listen to the instructions issued by any first responders at the scene. If an officer notes that you show signs of injury, even if you do not feel any pain or notice any distress at the time of the accident, you should still pursue medical care. If you do not have to leave the scene in an ambulance, you should receive an evaluation from a medical professional within 24 hours of the accident.

Even if you do not feel you need an ambulance, it is often still a good idea to go to an emergency room after the accident to ensure that you did not receive a concussion or whiplash. Minor sprains and strains may take some time to set in, especially after a shock, so it is always a good idea to seek medical treatment following a car accident. A medical care provider can rule out serious injuries and ensure that you get the treatment you need.

3. Give Information to Police and Exchange Details with the Other Driver

When the police arrive at the scene, they will ask you and the other driver for your name, date of birth, address, car insurance information, and a brief description of how the accident occurred. Be sure to get the name and badge number of the corresponding officer to receive a copy of the report later. You should also get the insurance details from the other driver and the license plate number of their car. Even if you think you are at fault in the collision, do not assume guilt until all of the details are found later. If later you find that other factors played into the crash and you immediately took fault, the other driver may have any claims dismissed due to you stating that you accepted the liability. You should also never share your social security number, coverage limits, or other personal information.

4. Take Pictures and Speak to Witnesses

If you are able, try to take pictures of your vehicle at the accident scene or ask other passengers or witnesses to take photos. Having photographs of the damage done immediately following the accident is instrumental in streamlining a claim. If you cannot get shots at the accident scene, you should still try to snap pictures when the car is home or getting repairs. Try to speak with other witnesses to get their account of events and try to get their names and telephone number. You should document the time and date of the accident and report any damage to the car and the other driver’s vehicle. It would be best if you also tried to note the position of the vehicles in relation to the cross streets. This is also important for determining just what happened in a claim and will aid in accident reconstruction.

5. Call a Tow Truck if Needed

Many insurance companies or motor club memberships offer towing that may be utilized in the event of an accident. However, police may also call a tow truck to get a vehicle off the road. If possible, obtain all contact information if a tow truck arrives that you did not arrange.

6. After the Accident

After you have gotten home from the accident and have received medical evaluation and/or treatment, you should begin to keep a daily journal beginning with the date of the accident to document all physical and mental injuries and symptoms and your full account of the accident. It is easy to forget details as time goes on.

7. Call A Lawyer

Before you begin your insurance claim, you should speak with an attorney. Many car accident victims initiate their claims on their own, believing that they will have everything handled by their car insurance company. Most lawyers will give you a free consultation after an accident. They will advise you on your options and if you can sue for compensation. Working with an attorney will offer you an advantage when filing an insurance claim. They can help fight for the compensation you deserve. An attorney will be able to tell you whether they think you may receive compensation above what you may get alone through your insurance claim and will be able to give you an idea of what you should expect from the insurance company. A lawyer may also help you collect evidence related to the accident, increasing your chances of obtaining the best compensation.

8. Call your Insurance Company

You should always alert your insurance company of the accident. Your insurance policy provider is there to help and will discuss your options with you. Many insurance companies now allow you to begin the claims process through their app on your mobile device and may also arrange for you to receive a rental car and get your vehicle towed all through the app. Keep all of your accident-related documents together as you work with your adjuster to process the claim. Remember that getting the claims process started and alerting your insurance company is not the same as agreeing to a settlement, which should be deferred until all facts surrounding the case are determined and you have sought counsel, should you desire legal advice.

9. Follow-Up Medical Care

If you were not transported to a hospital via ambulance or did not visit an emergency room following the accident, you should still check in with a medical provider as soon as possible to ensure you receive the treatment you need for any potential injuries. Even if you feel fine, issues stemming from the accident may arise later. Ensure that you follow all follow-up care instructions and do not reject any treatments. You can worsen your injuries or extend your recovery time by ignoring your care provider’s instructions. If you take any steps that aggravate your injuries, you may be liable for any associated increased medical costs. Keep track of all your medical records and medical bills following the accident. Your records create clear evidence of your injuries and limitations. your medical bills will show the costs you faced due to your accident and your injuries.

10. Contact your Employer

A car accident may affect your ability to work. After an accident, you may often need to miss work to receive medical treatment, deal with vehicle repairs and/or replacements, and any legal issues. Talk to your employer as soon as possible to let them know what is going on and if your injuries pose any limitations to your work. If you cannot return to work, keep track of all hours and wages lost – including if you are able to get the time covered through sick pay, vacation pay, short-term disability, or any other benefit.

Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC: The Heavy Hitters

Finally, a lawyer can take away some stress from dealing with legal issues, allowing you to focus on recovery. Contact Tatum & Atkinson, PLLC today at 800-LAW-0804 (800-529-0804) for a case evaluation and discuss your options.