Crucial Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
Stay Calm and Resist the Urge to Panic
After the accident is over and the action has ended, take a couple seconds to breathe and process what just happened. Try to gather your thoughts and prepare to move into action. You will need to act decisively, but not rashly. So make sure you take a moment to absorb your surroundings and formulate a plan before you start to make your moves.
Check Everyone in Your Vehicle for Any Signs of Injury
When you have regained your wits, take a look at yourself and the other people in your vehicle. You should be looking and listening for signs of injury. These signs can be as obvious as blood or visible bones and as subtle as mild neck pain or small bruises. If you see any of these, someone has suffered some sort of injury and needs medical attention. Even if you or the other people in the vehicle with you do not have any outward signs of injury, take a moment to focus on whether any parts of your body are in pain. Ask everyone else who is with you whether they are experiencing any pain. If they are, ask them how severe it is and where it is located. Their answers to these questions should give you some idea about what kinds of injuries they have and how urgently they need medical attention.
Get Yourself and Anyone Else for Whom You Are Responsible to Safety
Once you have gathered yourself and checked everyone in your vehicle for injuries, do whatever you need to do to get everyone to a safe place where you can wait for emergency personnel to arrive. The last thing you want is to be the victim of another accident because you were not able to get yourself to safety after the first one. Look for a nearby parking lot, parking space or lightly traveled side street. If you cannot find any of those, pull onto the shoulder or off to the side of the road.
While You Are at the Scene of the Accident, Collect As Much Evidence on Your Own As You Can
When you get yourself and the people who are with you out of harm’s way, you need to start collecting and creating your own evidence. If you are able, walk around the scene and talk to anyone you can find—any other drivers, passengers from any other vehicles that were involved and independent witnesses who saw the accident or its aftermath but were not directly involved in it. See how they are all acting and what they have to say. You should also take as many pictures as possible of the vehicles and people who were involved in the accident. Your personal injury attorney will need these pictures later to prove your case to the responsible parties’ insurance adjusters and defense attorneys.
Get Insurance Information from All the Other Drivers Who Were Involved in the Accident
If you want to recover compensation for your injuries from the responsible parties’ insurance companies, you will have to get insurance information from the other drivers while you are at the scene of the accident. If you fail to do this, even the best car accident lawyer will have an extremely difficult time making sure you are appropriately compensated. Exchange insurance cards with the other drivers before the police arrive so you don’t forget to do so.
Get the Police Involved and Talk to Them About What Happened
Even if you may be reluctant to do it, you need to call the police and get them involved so your accident can be documented and investigated properly. If you think you need an ambulance, call them even if someone else has already called so they will know how many emergency vehicles to send to the scene. When the responding officers arrive, tell them everything that happened before, during and after the accident. They will make the rounds and interview everyone who was involved. They will also talk to the independent witnesses. When they are done taking statements, analyzing the vehicle damage and investigating the scene, they will write a report listing everyone’s contact information, identifying the at-fault parties and listing any citations being issued. You need a copy of this report. Make sure you get one for your file.
Seek Medical Treatment from Licensed Professionals as Soon After the Accident As You Can
Time is of the essence when it comes to getting medical treatment for your injuries. Delaying will only give your injuries time to become more severe and less likely to heal completely. If you are able, you should transport yourself to a nearby doctor’s office or hospital emergency department so you can be examined and treated. If you need transportation because of your injuries’ severity or because your car is no longer drivable, ask for an ambulance. The quicker you can get treated, the better. Getting treatment quickly will help your auto injury lawyer prove your injuries are related to the accident, too. If you wait weeks or even just days until your symptoms worsen, your injuries could have deteriorated to the point of becoming irreversible. Do not let that happen to you.
Keep Track of All the Documents Related to Your Accident and Your Injuries
Proving your injury claim to the responsible parties’ insurance companies is more difficult than it sounds, and often much more difficult than it should be. You will need hard evidence to substantiate not only that each injury you are claiming exists, but also that all the injuries you are claiming are related to the accident. This means you need to keep a copy of the police report, all of your medical records, all of your medical bills, pictures of yourself, pictures of all the vehicles that were involved in the accident and documentation to prove what amount of wages you lost if your injuries caused you to miss any work. Keep all these documents in a single location for easy access and retrieval. Your auto injury lawyer will thank you later for your organization.
Do Your Homework When You Are Searching for a Personal Injury Attorney to Represent You in Your Claim
If you want to make sure your injury claim against the responsible parties is handled properly, you need to do your homework when you are looking for a personal injury attorney to represent you. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to ensure you have the best car accident lawyer to be your advocate at the negotiating table and in the courtroom. Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to talk to a car injury lawyer and get additional information about how you can recover maximum compensation for all of your injuries.