If you’ve recently been injured in a car accident, you might be a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do next. The main thing to do is remain calm and take the proper steps to resolve your situation immediately. The steps you take following an accident could very well affect any compensation that you’re entitled to from your insurance company.
If you are not sure if anyone has notified the police of the accident, call 911 before doing anything else. Also, whatever you do, do not leave the scene until help arrives. Fleeing the scene of an accident carries different penalties in different states, but most include hefty fines and/or jail time. Beyond that, if any claims are to be filed, you will need official documentation of the accident.
Document the scene
Although the authorities will make a police report, it’s a good idea to thoroughly document the scene yourself. Take photos of any damages to all vehicles involved in the accident, license plates, and injuries. Only snap photos of other people with their permission, but do take pics of the scene from multiple angles and try to include everything involved. This might include trees that were impeding your view, objects on the road, or anything else that could have caused dangerous driving conditions.
Get medical attention
First and foremost, get yourself and anyone in your vehicle the proper medical care they need. Even if you can walk away from the incident, you should still see a doctor or EMS provider if you have any pain, discomfort, dizziness, numbness, bleeding, or bruising. If you end up having a personal injury claim, the documentation of your injuries, however minor, is crucial. File every piece of that documentation, along with medical bills, with your insurance company and keep copies. This includes receipts for prescriptions, medical equipment, and any copays you pay out of pocket.
Also, make detailed notations of any injuries or medical assistance you receive. Include specific dates and times. Be as specific as possible in case you are questioned about your injuries at a later date.
Contact your attorney and do not admit guilt
Contact your attorney immediately, especially in the case of personal injury. Even a passenger in car accident settlement will have legal matters to take care of with their insurance company.
And no matter what position you are in, do not admit guilt. It might be tempting to apologize to people in other vehicles involved in the accident, but the less you say, the better. The police report plays a huge part in how your insurance company determines your settlement, so avoid admitting any fault at all. Because the truth is, even if you feel you are 100 percent to blame, the accident could have been caused by something you were unaware of, like faulty brakes, or a driver who slammed on their brakes ahead of you.
Get repair estimates
Once you’ve seen to your injuries, it’s important to go ahead and get damage estimates as quickly as possible. You can visit your local car dealership for repair estimates and possibly prices on a replacement vehicle. Your insurance company will want these numbers very soon after the accident to determine any amounts owed for both damages and personal injury.
Don’t hesitate to take action if you’ve been injured in a car accident. If your injuries are serious enough to land you in the hospital or unable to attend to these matters, enlist the help of a trusted loved one, such as a parent or a spouse.