What you do after a car accident is just as important as what you do not do
If you want to get as much compensation as you deserve after being in a car accident that was not your fault, then you need to know that what you decide to do matters just as much as what you do not do. Whether you live in a no-fault insurance state or an at-fault insurance state, collecting financial damages for serious injuries can often boil down to proving that the other driver was liable for the collision. As any car accident attorney will tell you, liability can be influenced by both action and inaction, so let’s get into a quick list of things to do and not do following an accident.
What to Do After an Accident
- Call for emergency responders: After a violent accident, you should call for emergency responders to assist at the scene as soon as possible. Even if no one is hurt, police officers can direct traffic away from any crash debris that was thrown into the road. Firefighters are equipped to extract people from crushed vehicles, so they might be needed, too. EMTs can begin lifesaving first aid before transporting seriously injured parties to the hospital. Reports from all of these professionals can also be helpful for your claim later on.
- Identify everyone: You need to know the identifying and insurance information of everyone involved in the accident, passengers included. However, if someone stops to help or says that they saw your accident, then you should ask them to provide their contact information, too. Eyewitness testimonies can be valuable pieces of evidence to prove liability when more tangible evidence is unavailable.
- Take pictures and videos: Speaking of tangible pieces of evidence, use your smartphone to snap pictures and record video footage of the crash scene. You will want comprehensive angles of damage to vehicles and injuries. The area around the crash can also paint a clear picture of liability. For example, traffic patterns or road signs in the area should be documented, as well as the weather and lighting conditions.
- See a doctor: You should head to urgent care as soon as possible after being in an accident, assuming you were not already taken to the emergency department by EMTs. You need a diagnosis of your condition the same day to establish when your injuries began and what caused them. An early diagnosis can also catch underlying injuries that might not have been noticed until a few days later when they got much worse.
- Call an attorney: There is a high chance that the other driver is going to blame you for the accident regardless of any evidence of liability that might be available. To make certain you can protect yourself from false accusations and/or prove confidently that you deserve full compensation for your injuries, working with a car accident lawyer is a great first step. The sooner you can get an attorney on your side, the better they can build your claim and represent you.
What NOT to Do After an Accident
- Do not flee the scene: No matter what happens, you must remain at the scene of an accident until all parties have been identified and insurance information has been exchanged. If the police arrive at the scene, then you will be expected to stay until they approve of your departure. Leaving an accident early and before you are identified by others is a crime in all 50 states.
- Do not apologize: You might want to apologize to other people involved in the accident due to your friendly disposition. For now, you will have to tuck that friendliness away and do as little talking as possible, which means never apologizing or saying you are sorry. Insurance companies love to twist a simple apology into an admission of guilt, possibly increasing your liability.
- Do not talk to opposing insurers: At some point soon, your insurance company will need to know about your accident. But at no point are you obligated to talk to representatives from opposing insurance companies. They can get all the information they need from your insurance provider or your attorney. Do not talk to opposing insurers. If you do answer the phone and they want to talk, then ask if the conversation will be recorded and seen as official. If the answer is yes, then instruct them that they will be hearing from your attorney soon and hang up.
- Do not sign a settlement without review: Insurance companies will sometimes throw a settlement offer at an injured motorist quickly after a crash in order to try to cut-and-run. Early insurance settlement offers are almost guaranteed to be far less than the true compensation amount you need and deserve. Do not sign an offer without first letting your lawyer review it.
Need a car accident attorney on your side right away after a bad crash in Buffalo, New York? Richmond Vona, LLC has your back. Call (716) 300-5885 soon after a collision to see how our team can be of service.
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