Getting into a car accident is an immensely stressful and potentially painful experience. The destruction that results from auto accidents can vary widely, from a dented bumper to life-altering injuries. Unfortunately, because most of us drive regularly, the chance of getting involved in a crash at one point or another is high. In 2016, an estimated 7,277,000 police-reported motor vehicle crashes occurred in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Want to make sure you’re prepared for the worst? Here are five things that you should do following a car accident to better protect yourself and your personal injury claim.
Seek Medical Attention
This is the first and most important thing everyone should do following a car accident. Check on yourself, your passengers, and anyone else involved in the crash for injuries. Call an ambulance to the scene immediately if anyone is seriously hurt.
If medical attention isn’t needed right away, you should still visit a doctor as soon as you can. There are two reasons for this:
- A doctor may be able to diagnose an imperceptible or latent injury such as minor to severe brain damage. Even a minor accident can cause whiplash, which can seriously injure your head or back.
- Having medical records on file detailing your treatment can help your personal injury claim.
If no one is immediate danger, move on to the next steps.
Take Pictures of the Crash Scene
Photograph the entire accident area from as many angles as possible, ideally before anyone moves their vehicle or leaves. This will protect you in case anyone disputes how the accident occurred and/or tries to claim that you were at fault.
Things you should photograph include:
- All vehicles involved
- Any visible injuries on yourself and others
- Any property damage, such as a downed street sign a car crashed into
- Any tire skid marks on the ground
If you don’t have the time or the means to take pictures, or in addition to doing so, take notes on how you remember the accident occurring. It is best to do so while your memory is fresh, so don’t wait.
Collect the Contact Information of Everyone Involved
Before anyone leaves the crash scene, collect contact and insurance information from the other motorists involved in the crash.
The information you should collect from any other drivers involved includes their:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Insurance company
- Policy number
- Driver’s license number
- License plate number
In addition to talking to the other drivers, ask witnesses for their contact information as well. They may need to testify on your behalf if there is any question of who caused the accident or how it occurred.
File an Insurance Claim—But Don’t Talk to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
Inform your insurance company of the crash so you can initiate the claims process. However, keep in mind that the at-fault driver will be doing the exact same thing and their insurance company will attempt to build a case against you. If they call you asking for a statement, don’t talk to them. In fact, never admit fault after a car accident—even saying the words “I’m sorry” can incriminate you.
Contact a Louisville Accident Lawyer
If you sustained injuries from the accident, whether minor or severe, and were not at fault for the wreck, call a lawyer. Filing a personal injury claim can help you receive compensation that will pay for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses. A lawyer can walk you through the full legal process, help you prove which party or parties were liable, and represent you in court if your case goes to trial.