You Should Take These 8 Steps
Every year, more than 1.5 million Americans fall victim to injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes. Accident victims often feel confused and unsupported in the time that follows an accident—it can be a struggle to find sound guidance when it comes to the steps you should take if you’ve been injured. Fortunately, most auto accident attorneys and safety experts can agree on a rough outline of how to keep yourself and your rights protected after a crash. Accident victims must understand how to protect their physical health, emotional wellbeing, and right to compensation following an accident.
Steps to Take if Someone is Injured in an Accident
1. Remain at the Scene
The choice to remain on-scene after an accident or injuries occur is an important one. Your willingness to stay put—whether you or another party received injuries—could influence a myriad of situations in the future. Staying at the scene of an accident allows police to arrive and file a timely report. If you or a loved one have sustained injuries, it’s also the best way to ensure that you stay safe. Many injuries (such as whiplash) fail to present themselves for some time after an accident— you could be putting yourself and those around you at risk if you leave before receiving medical attention.
One other reason it’s so important to stay in place following an accident involves your own legal responsibilities. In many cases, leaving the scene of an accident can be considered a crime; and, if another party received serious injuries or lost their lives during the accident, you could face additional criminal penalties as a hit-and-run driver.
2. Call 911
Ask for the police first. This will ensure that somebody is on their way to assess the scene as soon as possible. It’s also essential to file an accident report after the crash. The easiest way to do this is by working with a police officer on-scene to provide the information for the report.
Reporting your accident days later could leave you unsure of the details that surrounded the situation. It’s always best to detail the events of the accident soon after the fact.
When you dial 911, you may also need to request an ambulance if someone has been injured. This allows the injured party (or parties) to receive prompt and sufficient medical attention as soon as possible. If first responders decide that the injuries warrant immediate medical attention, they’ll be able to provide some care there before transferring to the hospital.
3. Exchange Information With Other Drivers
Another important step to take after an accident concerns the exchange of driver information. You should approach any other drivers involved in your accident with the intent to remain cordial and helpful. Remember: even if another driver’s negligence caused your accident, they still experienced that accident, too. Procuring personal information is much easier when nobody feels defensive.
There are a handful of key pieces of critical info that you should aim to collect about the other driver(s) as soon as possible:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license
- License plate number
- Insurance information
If other passengers were involved in the crash, it’s a good policy to speak with them, as well. Try to obtain their names, phone numbers, and addresses.
4. Speak With Witnesses
Scores of accidents go unwitnessed every year. If nobody saw your accident occur, there’s no need for concern—car accident attorneys and insurance companies assist with these sorts of crashes every day.
If, however, there were witnesses to your accident, you should speak to them immediately. It’s not your job to grill them or make them recite their story of the events. You can leave tasks like those to the responding officer once he or she arrives on-scene. Just collect witness’ names and basic contact information; you might require their assistance in the future.
5. Seek Medical Treatment
Even if you received medical attention at the hospital, it’s still important to seek medical evaluation on your own after an accident. It’s a good way to keep your primary care provider up-to-speed about the details of your crash and your injuries. Many injuries also fail to present themselves until days or weeks after they occur—double-checking that you’re in good health never hurts.
6. Inform Your Insurance Company
Once your own personal health has been accounted for, you should let your insurance company know that you experienced an accident. You should be completely truthful during this exchange; what you say to your insurance agent can impact your settlement or court case.
Some accident victims opt to retain an accident lawyer before speaking to their insurance company. While this may not be the most common course of action, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking legal counsel before you contact your insurance provider; your lawyer will make sure you understand how to best proceed.
7. Maintain Documentation
Some of the steps that should follow an accident may prove a little difficult, but this one is easy, and it could save you huge headaches in the future: You should maintain copies of every piece of documentation that relates to your accident. Even if you weren’t the injured party, you could need forms or documents that prove your innocence.
Always request copies of important paperwork from places like doctor’s offices or your insurance company. Try to get your hands on a copy of the accident report, too. Keeping this documentation organized and collecting it as you go is much easier than scurrying for information later.
8. Contact an Accident Attorney and Protect Your Rights
Perhaps one of the most important steps to take after your accident is finding a reliable accident attorney. If you or a loved one sustain injuries during an accident, the time that follows can prove tumultuous and confusing. Many victims are uncertain of who to speak to, what to say, and what sorts of things they can do after an accident. A lawyer can help you understand the best course of action for your personal well being.
An accident attorney will also be able to help you fight for your right to compensation, if necessary. Accident victims can recover damages to help offset medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, and a host of other negative impacts that an accident could cause. If you were injured in an accident, you deserve legal representation from an attorney that you can trust.