Auto accidents are all too common. In fact, they are among the most common causes of serious injury and death in the United States each year. An auto accident is an unexpected and traumatic experience that may result in life-changing consequences. The moments after an accident are often overwhelming and frustrating – however it is during those moments when you need to act quickly to protect yourself and others involved in the accident. If you drive a car you should know the key things you must do following an accident in order to protect yourself and your rights.
Assess the injuries: First and foremost, it is important that you assess your own condition and that of your passengers and others involved in the accident. If anyone shows signs of laceration, bleeding, head trauma, broken bones or is unconscious, call for medical attention immediately. Do not attempt to move an injured or unconscious person until trained medical personnel arrive to the scene.
Call the police: Next, call the police. Notify the officer of how the accident happened, all parties involved, and any identified witnesses to the accident. It is also important to get the name and badge number of the responding police officer(s). If a police officer does not come to the scene, go to the police station and file an accident report immediately.
Exchange information: Exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers involved. Also try to get the contact information of any passengers in the other cars involved or of any witnessed to the accident. These witnesses could play a critical role in a personal injury claim and can be difficult to track down after the fact. Protect yourself and your claim by ensuring you get their contact information.
Take photos: Take photos of the scene of the accident, your vehicle damage and your injuries. Photos can be extremely helpful later for your insurance adjuster or personal injury lawyer to prove the value your claim. If you do not have a camera on your phone then it is a good idea to keep a camera in your glove compartment to use in case you are involved in an accident.
Call your insurance company: Notify your insurance company you have been in an accident. Recite to them what happened and the extent of your injuries. Your insurance adjuster is there to help you.
Get a full medical assessment: At first you may believe that you were not injured and you may just go home. This is natural but can be dangerous as certain types of injuries do not surface immediately and some injuries are fatal. For example, what may appear to be a slight bump on your head may in fact be a serious closed-head injury, or may appear to be slight abdomen pain may be internal bleeding. It is always better to err on the side of caution. Go to a doctor and get fully evaluated before you return home.
Contact a car accident lawyer: Consult a lawyer before signing any settlement document. Do not settle a claim until you know the full extent of your injuries and required medical treatment. Oftentimes the need for surgery is not evident until later in the course of your medical treatment or you need more physical therapy than originally anticipated. Be very cautious of early settlement offers.
These are just some things you can do after an accident to protect yourself and your rights. If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident you should consider finding a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who will protect your rights and help you obtain the compensation you deserve. The entire claim process can be very stressful and hiring a lawyer to help you through all the phases of the case allows you to focus on healing and recovery. If you were involved in an auto accident and need help, the law firm of Stein & Shulman, LLC has the experiences and resources to help you get the compensation you deserve for you injuries and financial losses.