What should I do after an accident?
After a car, truck, bus, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident, there are several important steps you need to follow. Following these steps will ensure a better outcome if you need to pursue a settlement against an insurance company or individual.
These important steps are:
Get off the road. Make sure you don’t cause another accident by staying in harm’s way. Move your vehicles off the road or set up cones or flares (if you have them) to direct traffic away from you. If possible, take photos of the position of the vehicles before you move them.
Keep a cool head. If you are able, make sure the other driver is ok, but avoid confrontations with the other driver. You don’t need to prove your case to the other drive. The facts will speak for themselves.
Call the police. Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, an insurance company may need proof that the accident actually happened to process your claim for car repairs or other damages. Even if the police are too busy to come to the scene, at least your 911 call has been recorded. You can also go to the police department for the city where the accident happened and fill out a police report the next day.
Make an accurate record. Be honest and accurate when talking to the police or filling out a police report. Do not guess or speculate about things. For example, if you do not remember if you lost consciousness say “I don’t remember” instead of “no.” Or if you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say “I’m not sure” instead of “no.” It may take several hours to start feeling pain or soreness because right after an accident your adrenaline levels may be masking your pain.
Exchange information. Whether the police come out or not, be sure to get the other person’s name, contact information, and his/her car insurance information.
Take pictures. Take pictures of the vehicles, the scene itself, and your injuries. These will come in handy if you need to file an insurance claim or lawsuit later on. If you are too hurt to take pictures, ask someone you are with to take some pictures for you.
Report the accident to your insurance company. Whether or not you plan to use your own insurance to pay for any of the damages, it’s best to at least notify them of what happened. However, you should avoid answering too many questions about your injuries before you’ve been examined by a medical doctor. Remember that, just like the police, if they ask if you are injured and you’re not sure, say “I’m not sure” rather than “no.”
Do not post anything about your accident or injuries on social media. You may be forced to disclose even private photos or messages during your case, regardless of your privacy settings.
Seek medical attention. You don’t have to take an ambulance, but if you feel like you might be hurt, go to the nearest emergency room right away. If you have health insurance, give this information to the hospital. You should go to the hospital even if you don’t have health insurance because if you plan to make a claim against the other driver, many hospitals will agree to wait to get paid out of your settlement, especially if you have (or will have) an attorney involved.
Keep a file. Start putting every prescription receipt, letter from the insurance company, medical bill, and all other accident-related documents in a folder.
Protect your rights
Call a local personal injury attorney to discuss your rights. Even if you decide not to hire an attorney, most attorneys will discuss your case for free and give you great advice about your case, including potential pitfalls to be aware of. Gama Law Firm regularly helps people understand their rights after an accident. Set up a free consultation with Aurora accident attorney Richard Gama to learn your options.