What to Do When You Have Been in a Car Accident
Black and Davison
If you’ve never been in a car accident, count yourself lucky…the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the average American is involved in four accidents during his or her lifetime.
When you’ve been hurt because of the carelessness or negligence of another motorist, it’s critical that you take specific steps to protect yourself. Here’s a checklist:
- Step #1 — Get the Medical Treatment You Need
This is far and away the most important thing to do after a motor vehicle accident. It’s important to remember, too, that it’s not the time to be strong or stoic—it’s the time to accept and acknowledge your injuries and get all the treatment you need. If you can’t move around under your own power, or if you are in significant pain or discomfort, wait until emergency medical technicians arrive. Don’t try to diagnose your injury—they are the professionals and know how to do that. They also know what you need to do to avoid making your condition worse.
Get medical treatment as soon as possible, even if it’s not at the site of the crash. Immediately take yourself to the hospital, an urgent care facility or set up an appointment with your doctor. The longer you wait, the greater the risk of two things—that you’ll have an intervening accident or injury that will allow defense attorneys to shift blame; or that it will appear to a jury that your injuries were not that serious.
- Step #2 — Gather Information
The more information you can get, the better, particularly if you need to file a personal injury claim to get full and fair compensation for your losses. Get contact information for anyone involved in the accident, as well as all witnesses. Take pictures of everything, including the damage to all vehicles, any injuries suffered, road markings (skids or gouges), weather conditions or roadway defects. The camera on your phone is fine…just get the pictures.
- Step #3 — Hire an Experienced Lawyer
You want an attorney who has successfully handled motor vehicle accident claims, who knows what to expect from insurance companies and defense counsel, who can accurately determine the value of your claim. You also want to hire a lawyer as soon as possible, so that you can preserve all relevant evidence.