What to Do After a Car Accident That Is Not Your Fault?
A car crash can happen in a blink of an eye leaving you in a complex situation to navigate on your own. Whether you have been in a minor fender bender or a total wreck, your adrenaline will be pumping, and it may be difficult to think clearly. This is why it is important to educate yourself on the steps to take beforehand.
Knowing what to do after a car accident is crucial. The actions taken in the minutes and days following a crash can have a significant impact on your case. Here is what to do at the scene and afterwards to help build your case.
Do Not Leave the Scene - Even if the accident is minor, do not flee. Leaving could be considered a hit-and-run, which is a crime. If your car is still operational and you are not hurt, you can move to a safer area to avoid traffic, like a shoulder, parking lot or designated safe zone on a highway.
Call 911 - The most important step after a collision is to assess whether you or others are injured. Whether there or injuries or not, call 911 to get immediate medical attention for anyone that is hurt, but to also report your accident. Your police and medical records will be invaluable when establishing fault and liability.
Speak With Police - When speaking with police on the scene, be cooperative and exact with the officer. You should provide them with your license, insurance card, and registration. You should only voice the facts of the crash and avoid making any speculations or legal guesses. In the same sense, you should refrain from placing blame or admitting fault to anyone. Misspoken words or admission of fault can be used against you at a later date.
Ask the police officers attending the scene for their badge numbers and a copy of the report. When you receive the report about 10 days later, review the information carefully to ensure that all the details are accurate. If there is misinformation, you will need to contact your lawyer or the police to have the report revised.
Gather Evidence - Stay at the sight of the crash and document the scene of the accident. The more information and documentation you are able to provide, the more it will help your lawyer establish fault in your case. You can gather evidence via your cellphone by snapping photos of:
- The vehicles, including vehicle damage and license plates
- The accident site
- Any injuries
- Skid marks
- Nearby traffic control
- Driving conditions (fog, snow, rain)
You will also need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved in the accident. Asking eyewitnesses for their names, addresses and phone numbers will be beneficial as well.
See a Doctor - Whether a fender bender or more serious crash, you should always receive medical attention following an auto accident. Even if you do not have any noticeable signs of injuries, you must speak with a doctor as a precautionary measure because some symptoms of injuries can take days or even weeks to appear.
Not only is your health a priority, but if your injuries develop down the road the Defense may try to discredit your claim and diminish the seriousness of your injuries to reduce their liability. The longer you wait to seek medical care, the harder it will be to prove your injuries were caused by the crash, not a pre-existing condition or an accident that occurred after the crash – a standard insurance company tactic. Timely medical assistance after an accident can be an asset when it comes to negotiating your compensation.
*Tip: Once you are evaluated by a doctor, you should follow through with the physician’s treatment plan as well as go back for a follow-up appointment. Make sure to retain all copies of your medical bills and records as it will be valuable to your legal team
Contact an Attorney - The other driver’s insurance company is likely to contact you to offer a low settlement to resolve the issue. Do not admit any fault or speak with the liable party’s insurance company representative without first retaining an experienced personal injury/ car accident lawyer – it could damage your case. Additionally, do not sign any insurance documents before speaking with your attorney.
Meyers & Flowers is here to help guide you through every step of the legal, medical, emotional, and financial process after a crash. Hiring a skilled legal team after a car accident will allow us to identify the liable party, gather evidence, and manage all communication with the Defense and insurance companies on your behalf. With more than two decades protecting victims across the nation, our legal professionals know how to build your case and recover maximum compensation for your injuries.