It’s a situation thousands of St. Louisans experience every year.
The screech of tires. The crunch of metal and plastic.
The pounding of your heart. The shallowness of your breath and the adrenaline rush.
The confusion—Are you OK? Are your loved ones OK? What happened?
You’ve just been in a car accident.
In the moments after an accident, it’s hard to think straight. But there are a few critical things you must do in the aftermath of a car accident. Knowing what to do can mean the difference between receiving the medical care you need and the compensation you deserve.
It’s not a complicated list—but it’s not always easy. Which leads us to the first thing on the list…
#1 – Stay calm
Maintaining your composure is the most important thing to do after an accident. It’s also probably the most difficult. The emotional hardship of a car accident can be just as devasting as the physical impact. Not only can you suffer emotional injuries, but the immediate trauma of the accident can affect your ability to stay safe and do everything necessary to make sure you’ve properly documented the crash and gathered the right information.
#2 – Get safe and get help
Your first concern is the safety of everyone involved. In order to do this, you need to:
- Check for injuries
- Move off the road to a safe place
- Call 911
- Seek medical attention
Even if the accident is minor, no one seems seriously injured, and everyone is cooperative, call 911. Not all serious injuries are apparent right away. Often, you’ll want to be examined by a medical professional—even if you don’t think you’ve been hurt. Injuries such as whiplash, tissue injuries, or back injuries might not cause pain until well after the accident.
By getting the police involved, you’ll have an official report to give your insurance company and to use in any resulting legal cases. Be sure to tell the police exactly what happened, to the best of your ability, to ensure that there’s an accurate record of what happened. The police will usually provide you with a report number, which you can use to obtain a copy of the police report later.
#3 – Gather information and document the scene
Once everyone is safe, you need to gather the right information. Gathering all the information you need at the accident site can make sure that you’re treated fairly and get the settlement you deserve, if the case ends up in an insurance dispute or if one party sues in court.
- Take photos of the scene, including any damage to the vehicles involved. Thorough documentation, especially photos, will be incredibly valuable both for your insurance claim and if you need to go to court. With smart phones, photographic evidence has never been easier to gather. Don’t miss this important opportunity to document what really happened.
- Talk to the other drivers and passengers, asking for their names, contact information, and insurance information. Typically, the police will gather this information. But, if the police don’t respond, make sure you get the name, address, and telephone number of everyone involved.
- Talk to any witnesses, as well. Gather their names and contact information, in case your attorney needs to contact them later.
While talking to the other parties and the police, don’t claim responsibility or sign anything. Even if you think you may have caused the accident, don’t say or sign anything. Accidents are emotionally-charged and confusing in the direct aftermath, and you may not have a full picture of what happened. Let the investigation determine fault.
#4 – Notify your insurance company
Tell your insurance company about the accident right away. Many policies require immediate reporting. When speaking to your insurer, be sure to ask these questions:
- Find out exactly what benefits you have, including medical benefits, as part of your coverage.
- Ask about any information they require from you. Many policies require full cooperation, and you want to be as forthcoming as possible. Additionally, some of the information and photos you gathered at the scene may help with the insurance company’s investigation
- Remember—don’t make any statements about fault or liability without first speaking to your attorney!
#5 – Protect your rights by contacting Roberts Law
After an accident, it’s crucial that you contact an attorney who will protect your rights. Often, insurance companies want you to make a statement regarding the accident. But you shouldn’t say anything, even to your own insurance company, without speaking to a lawyer first.
At Roberts Law, our attorneys can protect your rights, make sure that valuable evidence isn’t lost or destroyed, and advise you on issues such as how to make sure you’re fully compensated for the damage to your vehicle to how to make sure you’re getting the best medical treatment available.
At Roberts Law, our initial consultation is free. We work on a contingency fee basis—which means you don’t pay anything until we win your case. We work this way because we care about you. Our first priority is making sure that you are treated fairly and receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
A car accident can be a harrowing experience—and one you shouldn’t have to go through alone. Contact us now for a free consultation.