If you’ve just been in a car accident, you’re probably feeling pretty shaken. Whether you are at fault or the accident was the result of someone else’s carelessness, there are crucial steps you need to take immediately following your accident – especially if you think you may qualify for a personal injury case.
Here are some step-by-step instructions that you can follow to ensure you’ve covered all your bases after getting in an accident.
1. Collect Yourself
Whether you were the cause of the accident or not, you’re probably feeling confused, shocked, and a little disoriented. Because the next few steps will go much more smoothly if you can pull yourself together, take some time to breathe and calm your nerves. To ensure you get all the information you need from the other driver, you will want to be as level-headed as possible.
Waiting a few seconds after an accident can allow you and the other driver to calm down, as well. This can prevent attacks and emotional blow ups over injuries or damage.
2. Check for Injuries
After you have taken a minute to breathe and get your nerves back down, check yourself and any passengers in your vehicle for injuries. Ensuring everyone gets the medical attention they need as quickly as possible is priority after any kind of car accident. Keep in mind that adrenaline after an accident may keep you from realizing the extent of your injuries. It may take a couple days for your injuries to really appear.
If someone is in need of an ambulance, call 911 right away. If you need to go to the hospital, don’t worry about the following steps – just get the medical care and attention that you need.
3. Exchange Information
Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, you will want to share insurance information and contact information, including your name and phone number. Write down all the details about both vehicles, including made, model, color, and year of the cars involved and what damage was sustained to each.
If you have a camera phone available, take pictures of the damage and the license plates of the other vehicle involved. This documentation will help your case.
4. File a Report
Even if the damage is small, you will want to file a report with local law enforcement. To ensure that the police will file a report on what happened and the extent of the damage, you may not want to move the vehicles or otherwise change the scene of the accident until the police can arrive.
After a report has been filed, ask the police officer if you are able to get a copy of the report or what steps you need to take to get a copy.
5. Call Your Insurance Provider
Even if the accident was the fault of the other individual, you will need to call your insurance provider to let them know your side of what happened. You should also give them the information of the other individual’s insurance so that they can get into contact with them and get repairs on your vehicle started.
Be sure that the damages are photographed and well documented, especially if you are going to file a personal injury claim.
6. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
While contacting a personal injury attorney is not necessary after every auto accident, if you have been injured because of another individual’s carelessness, you should not be held responsible to foot the bill. After you have collected all information about the accident and have spoken with your insurance provider, contacting a personal injury attorney can help you determine if you have a case.
Keep in mind that a personal injury case will take time, so while you are hoping to receive compensation for your injuries or damages from the accident, you or your insurance will probably need to cover the cost initially.
There is no doubt that getting in an accident is one of the scariest things many of us will face, but if you follow these six steps, you can be sure to get everything you need to file a claim with your insurance provider and start your personal injury case.
The Lamber Goodnow legal team, together with its partner personal injury law firms in Chicago, are experienced in accident cases. Our Chicago personal injury lawyers never charge a fee, unless we win your case. Get a risk free consultation today.