No one ever wants to think about being involved in a car accident, but unfortunately, they happen all too often. If you are unlucky enough to find yourself in this situation, you must understand that the minutes and hours that follow can be critical to ensuring your health and legal rights are protected. Luckily, there are certain things you should do right after an accident to make sure you are taking care of yourself and putting yourself in the best position possible should a lawsuit follow.
Here is a list of the top six things you must do without delay if you want to ensure the best outcome for yourself:
Call Your Lawyer
Even though it might not be the first thing on your mind, if you have been involved in a car accident, the first call you should make is to your lawyer. This is especially true if the accident resulted in any injuries, no matter how minor they might seem. The main reason for using lawyers’ services is that you will likely be dealing with insurance companies who will try to lowball you on any settlements. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to deal with these insurance adjusters and get you the maximum amount of compensation possible. Your lawyer will also help to ensure that your rights are protected and that you are not taken advantage of during this difficult time.
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Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Oftentimes, injuries sustained in car accidents do not present themselves immediately. This is especially true of more serious injuries like concussions or whiplash. Delayed onset of symptoms could end up being very costly if you wait too long to seek medical attention and it is later discovered that you were injured. By getting checked out right away, you will have a record of your injuries which will be important if you do decide to file a personal injury claim at a later date. Just be sure to keep all of your medical records and receipts as documentation.
Call the Police and File a Report
As soon as the dust has settled, so to speak, be sure to call the police and file a report. In many states, it is required by law to call the police and file a report if you have been in a car accident. Even if it is not legally required, it is still always a good idea. A police report will document what happened and can be used as evidence should you need to take legal action at a later date. It should contain information like the names and contact information of any witnesses as well as a description of the accident itself. This document will be important should you decide to file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit as it will provide an unbiased account of the accident, so be sure to get a copy of the police report for your records just in case.
Collect Information at the Scene of the Accident
Once the police have arrived, you will likely be feeling shaken up and just wanting to leave the scene as quickly as possible. However, it is important to collect certain information while you are still there. First, get the contact information of the other driver(s) involved as well as any witnesses. You will also want to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles as well as any injuries you or your passengers have suffered. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the entire accident scene, including skid marks and any debris that might be present. This visual evidence can be extremely helpful should you decide to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit at a later date.
Do Not Apologize
In the aftermath of an accident, it is natural to want to apologize to the other driver even if you were not at fault. However, this can be used against you later on. An apology can be construed as an admission of guilt which could greatly reduce your chances of winning a personal injury case should you decide to take legal action at a later date. So, even if you are feeling remorseful, resist the urge to apologize and instead let the police sort out who was at fault for the accident.
Avoid Signing Anything
The last thing you want to do after being in a car accident is to sign away your legal rights without even realizing it. Unfortunately, this is exactly what could happen if you are not careful. The other driver’s insurance company may try to get you to sign a release form which would essentially absolve them of any responsibility for your injuries. They may also try to get you to give a recorded statement that could be used against you later on. You must consult with an experienced car accident lawyer before signing anything or giving any statements so that you can be sure that your rights are protected.
Regardless of how minor, being involved in a car accident is always a traumatic experience, however by following these steps in the aftermath of an accident, you can help to ensure that your health and legal rights are protected. Just be sure to stay calm and work with an experienced car accident lawyer and you will walk out of this stressful situation the best way possible.