Car accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and while we all hope we’ll never find ourselves in one, we need to be prepared, just in case. In the moments after a crash, emotions run high and everything can feel very confusing. Knowing in advance the immediate steps to take can help you stay calm at the moment, and will also help you and your Caldwell, TX and Buffalo, TX car wreck attorney later as you work towards getting fair compensation for your losses.
The 12 Things You Need to Do Immediately After a Car Accident
Check for Injuries
Before worrying about damages or fault, check if you or any other person involved in the collision have sustained injuries. If anyone is hurt or complains of pain, call 911 right away. Even if the injuries seem minor, it’s better to err on the side of caution. Remember, some injuries may not manifest immediately and could only become apparent later on.
Move to a Safe Location
If the vehicles are obstructing traffic, and it’s safe to do so, move them to the side of the road. If this isn’t possible, or the car is inoperable, turn on the hazard lights. This signals other drivers to approach with caution. If the accident occurred on a busy highway or in an area with high-speed traffic, it’s recommended that you stay inside your vehicle with seatbelts fastened until help arrives.
Contact Law Enforcement
Even if the accident seems minor, contacting the police is often a good idea. In Texas, it’s required to report accidents that result in injury, death, or significant property damage.
The officers will file a crash report, which will be helpful to you when you’re filing an insurance claim or in any legal proceedings that may follow. When the officers arrive, provide a simple, factual account of the event without admitting fault or assigning blame.
Exchange Information with the Other Party
Once you’ve ensured everyone is safe and law enforcement has been notified, exchange relevant information with the other driver. Here’s what you need to exchange:
- Names, addresses, and contact numbers
- Insurance company names and policy numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- License plate numbers of the involved vehicles
- Make, model, and color of the vehicles
It’s also a good idea to note down the location of the accident, the time and date, and the weather conditions at the time of the accident. Avoid getting into discussions about who was at fault or how the accident occurred. Stick to the facts.
Document the Scene
In our digital age, most of us have smartphones readily available, so, if you’re able, use your phone to take photographs of:
- The overall accident scene
- Damages to your vehicle and the other vehicle(s)
- License plates
- Any visible injuries
- Skid marks or other relevant roadway conditions
These photos can provide a visual record of the accident scene and may prove valuable if there are discrepancies in accounts later on. If you’re injured and waiting on an ambulance, ask a passenger to take photos, if they’re not hurt.
Talk to Witnesses
If there were bystanders or other motorists who witnessed the accident, get their names and contact information. Their perspectives can help provide a clearer picture of the events leading up to the collision.
Witnesses might be able to offer details you hadn’t noticed or remembered, especially given the stress of the moment. Again, only do this if you’re not badly hurt. Your safety and well-being are the primary considerations.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
If you were badly injured, you’ll be headed to the hospital by ambulance, of course. But even if you believe you’re unharmed, or at least not badly hurt, it’s still wise to seek medical attention after an accident. Some injuries, particularly those related to whiplash or concussions, might not be immediately evident.
A prompt medical evaluation not only ensures your well-being but also establishes a record should symptoms arise later. It’s not uncommon for pain or other symptoms to appear days after the trauma, and any delay between the accident and the medical record is something an insurance company may point to, trying to claim your injuries have nothing to do with the incident.
Consult With a Lawyer
One of the first things you should do, as soon as you feel physically able, is to contact a lawyer. Even if you have been badly injured, remember that a lawyer can get started on investigating the accident and negotiating with the insurance company on your behalf while you recover. An experienced attorney can:
- Help you assess the true value of your claim
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Represent you if the case goes to court
An accident has potential long-term implications for your health and finances, so having an informed legal perspective can make the difference between getting a resolution that’s truly in your best interest and one that leaves you permanently disadvantaged in life.
Notify the Insurance Company
Don’t delay informing the insurance company of the liable party about the accident. They can advise you on the necessary procedures and documentation required to process a claim. When speaking with any insurer, offer a factual account of the event, similar to what you provided the police.
Avoid making statements that could be construed as admitting fault until all facts are clear. While they might seem friendly and sympathetic, remember that an insurance adjuster’s primary goal is to minimize the amount their company pays out.
When discussing the accident with adjusters:
- Stick to the facts and avoid providing speculative details or opinions
- Remember that it’s okay to decline answering questions if you’re unsure or if you feel they are trying to lead you into admitting fault
- Always request to have any discussions in writing
If the insurance company keeps calling you or wants longer statements, talk to your Caldwell, TX and Buffalo, TX car wreck attorney before you say anything.
Avoid Discussing the Accident on Social Media
The urge to share our experiences online these days is natural. However, discussing the accident or posting photos on social media platforms can potentially harm any subsequent legal or insurance processes. Comments or images can be taken out of context or misconstrued, potentially affecting the outcome of claims or legal actions.
Keep Every Document Related to the Accident
In the days following the accident, you’ll likely start collecting various documents related to the event, from police reports to medical bills, insurance correspondence, or repair estimates. Organize and store all these in a dedicated folder or digital file. This information will be used by your lawyers as they help you seek reimbursement, handle insurance claims, or even proceed to a lawsuit.
Sign Nothing Without Your Lawyer
After an accident, you may find yourself approached by insurance companies with settlement offers. While it might be tempting to conclude the matter quickly, it’s vital to remember that the initial offer might not cover all your expenses, especially if future medical treatments are required. We advise not accepting or signing any agreements without consulting your legal counsel.
Call an Experienced Caldwell, TX and Buffalo, TX Car Wreck Attorney Now
If you’ve been in an accident and need guidance or representation during a challenging times, Brian C. Gutierrez has the experience and expertise you need. Contact Brian Gutierrez, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer right now for a free consultation.