The shock of being involved in a car accident is immediate. No one expects another car to hit them as they’re on the road, so it takes effect immediately. If you’re involved in an accident, you’ll experience a flood of emotions in the few moments following the collision. Shock, confusion, anger, fury, and more will all make it difficult for you to concentrate on the fact you were just hit. Now you’re sitting in your car in the middle of the road in shock wondering what you do next. Our attorneys handle enough car accident cases to know immediately what you do following an accident.
Never leave the scene of an accident. If you caused the accident, it’s going to become a hit and run if you leave. A hit and run is illegal and it’s a crime, which means your car accident case just turned into a criminal case.
Call the Police
The first thing you do is call the police. You need them to respond as quickly as possible, and it’s never safe to assume someone else witnessed the accident and called. Provide your name, your location, and any other information you think is necessary, especially if one of the victims is badly injured in the accident.
Take Photos, Gather Information, and Find Witnesses
Now that the police have been called, it’s time to protect the scene and do what you can to gather evidence. Take photos of the accident from all angles. Take many photos. Get your personal information, insurance information, and your car registration. Find any witnesses willing to stick around and recount their version of what happened when the police arrive.
Speak to the Police
Now you speak to the police. They’ll ask what happened, and it’s imperative you share only the facts. If you don’t know it to be a fact, don’t say it. Don’t assume you know what happened when someone hit you. Speak only what you know, even if it’s very little. The police will file a report at the scene, and they’ll use the position of the cars, the damage, statements from you and the at-fault driver, and they’ll use witness statements to determine fault.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you assume you’re just fine since no injuries are apparent, let the medics on the scene check you out. They can tell you whether you have a concussion of symptoms of an unseen injury. You want these medical records if you intend to file a lawsuit later. You also want to protect your health, which means diagnosing any injuries or health issues right away. The faster they’re realized, the faster they’re treated, and the faster you heal.
Report The Accident
The police report has the information of the other driver on it, so now is the time to call and report the accident with their insurance company. This gets the ball rolling in your favor, which means an adjuster will come check out the damage to your car faster, and you’ll get your rental car faster. If the other driver has no insurance policy, call your own insurance company to file a claim. They’ll pay for the damages, your rental car, and your medical bills while also going after the other driver for reimbursement for the accident bills if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.
Call an Attorney
If you are asked to sign any paperwork by the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you are unsure what to do, and you have questions, call us. The first consultation we provide is free, and we can help you determine the next course of action. Do you file a lawsuit? Do you have enough evidence and reason to file one? Should you accept the insurance company’s first offer if they make one? Our attorneys have ample experience helping clients involved in car accidents seek the proper treatment, help, and damages following an accident caused by someone else. It’s called negligence, and it’s something we work with on a regular basis. Let us help you handle this case on your behalf.
You were just involved in an auto accident and feel a little shaken up. Fortunately, you seemed to come through the event without any signs of injury. While it may be true that there are no major lacerations and you don’t feel dizzy, it’s a little too early to determine if you emerged from the accident with no physical damage. The best thing you can do is arrange to see a doctor in the 72 hours following the accident.
Where Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
Even if you seem to be fine, it still makes sense to see a medical professional as soon as possible. When the accident takes place during standard business hours, call your family doctor and explain what has happened. Find out if you can be worked in and examined that day. If not, it’s fine to seek medical attention at a local care center.
When you do feel a little unusual, go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital. While it could be that you are momentarily disoriented by what just happened, it could also mean some internal injury is beginning to impact your ability to function. The staff at the emergency room will know what to look for, which tests to run, and how to prevent the issue from progressing.
Injuries Are Not Always Immediately Apparent
While at the site of the accident, you feel fine. There is no trouble walking, your mind is clear, and other than feeling a little sore around your neck and shoulders everything seems to be okay. Tomorrow could be a different story.
Not everyone realizes that the body releases chemicals designed to sustain a person immediately after an injury. Those chemicals help to lessen pain for a few hours. After that, that little bit of soreness in your neck may increase by a significant amount.
In the hours and days following the event, you may begin to notice changes in your cognition or your muscles. The stiffness spreads and increases to the point that it hurts to turn your head to the left or right. Perhaps a knee or an ankle begins to swell. Maybe you find that concentrating on tasks at work the following day is more difficult than usual.
What you could be experiencing is the manifestation of injuries that were not apparent at the time of the accident. Your best bet is to see a doctor and find out what is causing the discomfort or the difficulty concentrating before things get any worse.
Determining If There is a Direct Link
It’s easier to assess your situation and come to a conclusion about what role, if any, the accident plays in your current discomfort when you see a doctor shortly after the event took place. As more time passes, it’s easier for the insurance provider of the responsible party to claim that your aches and pains are related to something other than the accident itself.
When you see a doctor, outline the accident and what you experienced. Be specific about how much the impact threw you forward, if you banged your knee against the steering column, or if your head came in contact with anything as a result of the collision. Along with providing the medical professional with a better idea of what type of injuries to look for, you also make it easier to determine if your discomfort is because of the accident.
Medical Records and Pursuing a Settlement
The documentation provided by your doctor will play a major role in any attempts to file a claim or pursue some type of settlement. Depending on the severity of your situation, a personal injury lawyer will ensure those documents are brought to the attention of the responsible party and the insurance company. Keep in mind that the doctor’s findings tend to have greater influence when the examination takes place soon after the event.
Insurance providers take several factors into account when evaluating claims. One of those has to do with how much time passes between the car accident and when medical treatment was sought. From the perspective of an insurance adjustor, someone who is injured or believes some type of injury took place will seek medical treatment sooner rather than later. When you wait a week or two to visit a physician about the pain in your neck that won’t go away, the insurance company may take the stance that your injury, assuming it’s real, is due to something other than the accident.
Do yourself a favor and see a doctor after your auto accident. If everything is fine, that’s great news. If something is out of the ordinary, prompt treatment could mean preventing a lot of discomfort in the days and weeks to come.