What to do Immediately After an AccidentRequest Free Consultation
Protect the Scene.
The first thing you should do following a car, truck or motorcycle accident is to stop and protect the scene. You should never drive away from the scene of an accident, no matter how small the accident may seem. Even if there doesn’t appear to be damage, or you might not feel immediate pain, you should always stay and protect the scene. There can be serious criminal ramifications if you leave the scene of an accident. You should not move your vehicle unless it is impeding traffic. However, for serious accidents, it is often recommended to stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on until emergency services arrive. Also turn on your emergency flashers if they are working.
Call the Police.
Next, you should call the police as soon as you are able and have them come to the scene of the accident. You should do this even if it appears that you or your passengers are uninjured. Not only can police help with injuries, calling an ambulance, or even the fire department, but they also do basic accident reports and insurance exchanges that you will need to make a claim for damages or injuries. Additionally, if the police or paramedics recommend going to the hospital via ambulance, you should go, as it is always better to be checked out by professionals at the hospital. Every Utah policy also has $3000.00 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP)(it used to be called no-fault insurance) that will cover emergency medical expenses, regardless of whether you are at-fault. You should also remember that when speaking to law enforcement, be as accurate as possible. However, you should never admit fault or even partial fault, as these statements can be used against you later. You also should not guess answers to law enforcement as it is always better to answer “I don’t know” than to make an inaccurate record.
Document the Accident Scene.
While you wait for emergency services, and from a safe vantage point, you should take photographs or video of the accident scene. Photographs are useful if taken from your phone because they include a timestamp. If using video, try and record everyone’s face and ask the name and contact information from witnesses or others. This this information can be impossible to get even the next day if the officer doesn’t get witness statements or the person has a very generic name. This information can also assist law enforcement in assessing the scene, but will also be used later to substantiate your injury claim. If the officer doesn’t compile a record, you should exchange insurance information with the other vehicle. If they refuse, you should document their vehicle make and model, as well as their license plate information and give that information to your personal injury attorney.
Seek Medical Attention.
Next, if you weren’t transported by ambulance, you should seek medical attention. This is crucial after an accident even if you are certain you are uninjured. In many instances, those injured in an accident do not complain of any pain until a day or two after the accident occurred. Going to the emergency room or your normal primary care physician to be examined is in your best interest because they may find something internally that is not apparent externally, like internal bleeding. When meeting with your physician, tell them anything that happened in the accident that could affect your health. For example, let them know if you lost consciousness at all during the event, or you hit your head on a window because head injuries can lead to cognitive and behavioral changes in the future, especially if left untreated. You should also follow up with any recommended treatment, including physical therapy, x-rays, chiropractic treatment, or anything else recommended by your physicians. Failure to follow up with recommended treatment can severly limit your personal injury settlement.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Before Starting a Claim.
After seeking medical attention, most people want to call insurance companies to start an accident claim to get a rental car or to repair property damage to their vehicle. However, you should wait to do this until reaching out to a personal injury attorney. Even if you do not think you are injured, you should still discuss your options. This is recommended for two reasons. First, anything you say to insurance companies could be used against you later to minimize your claim or to apportion some or all liability to you (even if it’s your own insurance company). Second, it is not uncommon to not feel injuries immediately after an accident because of the rush of adrenaline or shock from an accident and many injuries manifest days later. Your car accident personal injury attorney will have specific tips for a recorded statement with insurance companies and will normally have you hold off talking about injuries until you know the full scope of your injuries, if any. Also, personal injury attorneys can even begin the claims process for you.
Document Your Injuries.
As you progress with treatment and recovery from your injuries, you should document everything in a journal about your pain or any inconvenience to your household activities, any missed work, or especially changes in your injuries. This information can be very useful to substantiate your claim. Additionally, in the rare event you are required to testify to a jury, having this evidence closer to the date of the accident can help your case. You should keep copies of any documents, bills, or records you receive from medical professionals or your work and make sure to get this information to your personal injury attorney.
Protect Your Rights.
Lastly, remember to protect your rights. When you are injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to receive the best medical treatment available to recover from the accident. You have the right to be reimbursed for your out-of-pocket medical expenses and awarded a reasonable settlement for the costs of your future medical expenses, if any. You have the right to be compensated for your pain and suffering because of the accident. Don’t let the insurance companies take away your rights, contact a personal injury attorney and let them do what they do best.
As you can see, following the above tips will assist you immediately after being in an accident. Whether it is from a car accident, a truck accident, or a motorcycle accident, these tips can greatly increase your settlement from insurance companies. If you have further questions, reach out to We Win Injury Law for a consultation and case evaluation, and remember it’s always free.