First Steps: What You Should Do After An Automobile Accident
Chances are you have been in this situation: you’re in a car accident (whether severe or minor) and the first thing to go through your mind when the initial shock wears off is “now what?” Automobile accidents can be scary, confusing, and in the case of severe accidents that result in injuries, devastating. Having a plan of action already mapped out can be helpful, but it’s hard to know where to begin.
We’re here to help. Here are things to keep in mind immediately following an accident…
Stay Calm and Check It Out
Keeping your cool after an accident is vital to yourself and those around you. We know it’s difficult to do in the heat of the moment, but by keeping a clear head, you will be better able to help yourself and those around you if there is a need. Immediately following the accident, take a deep breath, check yourself for any injuries, and then check with any passengers in your car. If anyone is injured, that’s your first priority. Which leads us to the next step…
Call the Police
Don’t sit around and wait for someone else to call the police, or worse, carry on conversations with others at the accident scene, before you call emergency services yourself. Unless you are unable to use your phone, your first step after a quick injury check is to call the police and report the accident. This ensures that anyone needing medical attention will receive it as soon as possible, and it also protects you in the event that the accident leads to legal charges of some kind.
Keep Quiet and Call Your Agent
After the police have been called, you need to be mindful of what you say and do while waiting on them to arrive. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible, and begin the claim report. In some cases, your insurance company may have someone sent out to the scene. This varies depending on your provider, but you should ALWAYS call at the first possible opportunity after an accident. While at the accident scene, do not discuss the accident with others involved, or with witnesses and bystanders. Be polite, but only disclose accident information with the police officer on scene or with your own insurance agent. If you do speak with the other driver(s) involved, keep it brief, factual, and if possible only discuss contact information and exchange needed numbers.
Stay and Take Notes
Even though an officer and your insurance agent are involved in recording information about the accident, your own personal notes can be helpful in recalling details. One of the biggest mistakes people make after an accident is leaving the scene after the officer has taken their statement. You should stay on scene until everyone else is leaving if at all possible. As soon as you can after the accident, jot down information such as the apparent damage to your vehicle, the damage to the other driver’s vehicle, details of the accident itself (time, direction, weather conditions, etc.), and any injuries and/or medical treatment received. Smart phones make this convenient since you can type up info easily and save it without fear of it being lost or thrown away. You can even insert photos of the vehicles and any other needed visual evidence for your own records. Additionally, don’t let the note-taking stop at the accident. Keep track of any and all medical treatment received after the accident including chiropractor visits, doctor visits (based on pain or injury received in the accident), etc.
Have Someone On Your Side
While not always necessary, having an attorney on your side in the event of a car accident can be incredibly helpful, especially in cases where injuries have been reported and/or medical treatment was received following the accident. Having an attorney familiar with the case and ready to advocate for and defend you, regardless of whether or not you were at fault in the accident, is key to making sure an automobile accident doesn’t have long-term effects on your health or your finances.
If you have been involved in an accident and are facing issues with medical claims, or with unfair charges being brought against you, give us a call. Sessums Law Group is proud to serve the greater Lakeland area with personalized service. We care about our clients and want what’s best for each of them. We urge you to drive safely, but when something unexpected happens and you need legal help: WE STAND FOR YOU!