No one leaves the house in the morning thinking that they are likely to get into a car accident that day. Being in a car crash is likely to catch you by surprise and you may not know what to do in the moments and hours after it takes place. This is a normal reaction to having this suddenly happen to you and is likely to pass as reality sets in. Some people go into shock after the impact, making it hard for them to process what has happened until later on.
After checking to make sure you and your passengers are safe, check on any other people involved in the accident and call an ambulance if needed. If possible, move the vehicles to the side of the road out of the way of traffic. Once these basic tasks are done, you can start making the necessary calls to your loved ones and your insurance company.
Here are the people you should try to contact after you are involved in a car crash, and what you should make sure to talk to them about during your conversation:
Whether or not you are required to contact the police or highway patrol after a car accident varies from state to state and what the local laws dictate. While some locations require you to file a police report right away, other police departments are too busy to come out every time a fender bender happens. Inform yourself about the protocol in your area so you know if this is necessary where you live.
In cases where the police do come out to the scene of the accident, they will talk to all the parties involved in the accident and witnesses who may have seen it take place to construct a narrative of what happened. While they will not decide who is at fault, the information they take as part of the report can play an important part in any legal action that comes down the line. For example, if the accident was caused by a malfunctioning traffic light or another issue in the area, the report can prove this issue existed at the time of the collision. This is vital because the physical landscape where the crash takes place can change over time, and any environmental issues can be remedied long before you go to court. Proving the conditions on that day and setting an accurate scene can make a real difference in how the judge or jury decides the case.
If you do contact the police, be sure to get a copy of the report in case your insurer asks for it as part of your claim. If you do end up pursuing legal action with a lawyer, the police report can be a valuable piece of evidence for your lawyer to use in building a case against the other party. Using the narrative the police have constructed, the lawyer can contact any witnesses to find out more and take sworn statements from them, or hire experts to analyze the scene of the accident. Skid marks on the road, tire treads, and how the debris falls after the accident can indicate how the cars were driving before impact.
A Qualified Attorney
Even if you think that your insurer is going to cover the losses you’ve suffered, consulting with a personal injury lawyer is a smart move. Getting informed about what to expect next and how to navigate the process of dealing with an auto insurer can only benefit you. Lawyers have a great deal of experience in dealing with insurance companies and are familiar with the tactics they use to try and trick people into accepting less than they should.
In many cases, both drivers have auto insurance coverage and therefore only deal with each other’s insurers. An experienced car accident lawyer can advise you on your rights and how much to say to your insurance company. The advice of an auto accident lawyer can keep you from limiting your potential payout without even meaning to by saying more than you should. While many insurance company representatives take a friendly, helpful tone, they are there to represent the company’s interests and not yours. It’s wise to limit what you say to them until negotiations are done and you’ve settled on an amount you’re owed.
If the other driver is uninsured, you may have to pursue getting compensation from the person themselves through the court. A personal injury attorney can help you decide if this course of action is worth pursuing and assist you in putting together a strong case that proves the other person owes you. With a better understanding of the law and how it holds people responsible for car accidents than the average layperson, a lawyer can help you understand who to hold accountable for the damage done. Under the law, if the other driver was using a company vehicle to do business when they got into the accident, the company employing them may be liable to pay for your damages. If safety elements of the vehicle failed, like the seatbelts or airbags, it might be the car manufacturer who has to be held responsible. If the roadway was unsafe and proper signs weren’t in place, the city or local government can be to blame. The laws regarding these kinds of liability are nuanced, making it necessary to get a lawyer’s opinion to truly be sure who is at fault and who to pursue in court. Personal injury lawyer car accident experts can assist you in navigating the process.
Car Repair, Towing and Assistance
Getting your vehicle off the road helps stop you from blocking traffic and helps keep you secure as you handle the immediate aftermath of the crash. If you are unable to move your car out of the way of traffic, you can put on your hazard lights to signal to other drivers to go around you.
If the vehicle is not drivable, you might have to call a tow truck to pick it up and transport it to a repair shop. Of course, if you are a member of a roadside assistance club, you can contact them first to see if the towing service is covered as one of your membership benefits. The best roadside assistance services are available anytime to provide help with getting your vehicle off the side of the road quickly. You can specify the shop you want the vehicle taken to or ask the towing service to recommend one nearby. If your car key is ruined during the accident or you become locked out of the car in the aftermath, a car key replacement service can get a new one made for you on the spot to allow you re-entry to the vehicle.
If the car is driveable, you’ll want to go to a professional car repair service to get an estimate for repairs as soon as possible. You can provide this information to the insurance company or your lawyer to help determine how much you are owed. Having the estimate done as quick as you can stops the other party from claiming that additional damage was done to the car in the intervening time period.
Evaluating the level of damage done to the vehicle is an important part of the process. It may look to you like only a little damage was done to you, but only a collision repair service can properly diagnose the issues that may have occurred as a result of the accident. Modern vehicles are equipped with cameras and sensors to help guide the driver through everyday tasks like backing up or parallel parking. Any impact to the bumpers, where many of these components are housed, can result in damage to them.
The Other Driver
After the accident, you may exchange information with any other drivers so that you can contact each other and follow up with each other’s insurers, if applicable. During this exchange, remain calm and say as little as possible about the circumstances surrounding the accident. Take down the name and contact information of each driver along with the name of their insurer. Without this information, it can be difficult and costly to track the other drivers down. If you end up pursuing action against this person or multiple other drivers, your personal injury lawyer will need to contact them in order to have them served or take a statement from them.
Doctor, Therapist or Chiropractor
When cars are traveling at a high rate of speed, the force they have when they collide can be fatal. Each car represents tons of metal and fiberglass and depending on the speed they are traveling at, they can cause a significant amount of damage. Even with a seatbelt on, you can sustain injuries like whiplash and bruising to the body when the airbag is deployed. As a result of the impact of a car accident, you can end up with physical pain that lasts for months or even years. The discs in your spinal column can be pushed out of place, causing pain as they try to realign themselves. Car accidents can cause soft tissue damage, which often causes pain in the neck and back. These issues can be hard to pinpoint and fix and often require multiple approaches. It may take multiple tests, like x-rays and MRIs, for a medical professional to diagnose and prescribe a course of treatment for the injury. Effective back pain treatment can range from chiropractic visits to stretches, yoga, and physical therapy exercises and even taking pain medication under a doctor’s supervision.
Your mental health can also suffer as a result of being in an accident, since it is a traumatic event. It may stick with you for some time, and you may have dreams about the incident in the days that follow. Some people struggle with anxiety getting back on the road or even riding in a car again, as it brings all the trauma back to them. Therapy or mental health support can help you get over this incident and regain the confidence you need to continue driving. In some cases, driving classes can help you understand ways to prevent accidents from happening in the future and improve your existing skills so you feel you can handle whatever happens on the road.
Pain Management Help
Pain medication is often prescribed for the kind of chronic back and body pains a car accident can cause you, but they should be taken with some caution. Since these pills can be addictive if taken too often or for too long, they should only be taken under the supervision of your doctor as part of a treatment plan. The doctor can help wean you off these medications when your body is ready and help you get back to normal without experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
If traditional methods of treating your pain are ineffective or stop working after a time, you may want to contact alternative medicine practitioners to see if they can offer you relief from the pain. Acupuncture, traditional herbs, Reiki, and massage can all help restore you to health. They may not be accepted forms of medicine in the western world, but they have proven themselves effective for hundreds of years and can bring you some relief.
The time immediately after being in a car accident can be a confusing time. By contacting the right people to give you good advice, you can ensure you stay calm and reduce your chance of having the resulting insurance claim or legal action denied.