What should I do after an auto accident?
Approximately 5.4 million non-fatal automobile accidents occur in the United States annually, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Between 30,000 and 34,000 people are killed in automobile accidents each year. About 90 people are killed on U.S. roads every day.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, there are some steps you need to take in the immediate aftermath of the event. By taking these steps, you best protect your rights and interests.
Fully Document the Accident Scene
A crucial step that you need to take after a car accident is to fully document the scene. Documenting an accident scene includes a number of elements. Chief among them is making a visual record of the scene and identifying and interviewing witnesses.
Video the Accident Scene
Making a video of accident scene is a crucial element. If a video device is not available, take photos. In this day and age, with the ubiquitous availability of smartphones, taking a video of the accident scene is usually easy to do.
When it comes to taking a video, this should be accomplished in a means to take in all angles of the scene. In addition, the video should include any specific injuries or property damage associated with the collision.
Many accidents are witnessed by individuals who happen to be nearby at the time of a collision. Another vital step to take following an accident is identifying and interviewing witnesses.
You need to make sure that you obtain all contact information from a witness. In addition, if at all possible, you should see if a witness will provide the name of another individual you can contact if you find yourself having trouble finding that person at a future date. The reality is that you may not have a need to contact the witness again until some time a bit further down the road. With the highly mobile nature of people in society today, it is important to have backup means of making contact with a witness to an accident.
Seeking Assistance at the Scene
If you are involved in an accident, you may not be able to personally document the accident scene. If that is the case, you need to see if someone with you is able to undertake that role. If that is not possible, perhaps there will be someone on the scene who will be willing to lend a hand. Odds are there will be someone on hand who has a smartphone, or some other type of mobile device, who will be willing to a lend a hand in your time of need.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Another vital step you need to seriously consider taking in the aftermath of an injury-causing accident, or an accident that results in serious property damage, is retaining an experienced personal injury lawyer. As a general rule, a personal injury attorney will schedule an initial consultation with you at no charge.
During an initial consultation, a personal injury lawyer evaluates your case. He or she provides you an overview of possible strategies, tactics designed to optimize your recovery.
As a matter of practice, a personal injury attorney usually utilizes a contingency fee agreement. With a contingency fee agreement, you pay no fee unless and until a personal injury attorney obtains a favorable settlement of judgment for you in your case.
Open and Maintain a File
Set up a file to keep records associated with your car accident matter. There are an array of items that likely will end up in your file. These include medical bills and reports, insurance documents, items received from the police, and other documents. You will also want to set up a companion digital file. You will accumulate a variety of items associated with your case in digital form. Finally, you might want to set up an email file in which you specifically can maintain emails about your car accident case.
Obtain Appropriate Medical Attention
Some people shrug off seeking medical attention following an accident. If you are involved in anything but the most minor of fender benders, you need to be checked out by a doctor.
On a related note, you must follow through on all recommendations made by your doctor in regard to your care and treatment following an accident. If you fail to do that, you can jeopardize your own wellbeing, but you also can harm your claim for compensation. By not following medical advise, an insurance company can deny all or part of your claim, contending that you aggravated your medical condition by not following doctor’s orders.