Have you ever experienced the heart-pounding moments after a car collision?
If you’ve ever been there, then you know how those first minutes are full of confusion and shock. What are you supposed to do following a car wreck?
Keep reading to find out the top ten things you need to do to protect yourself right away.
1. Stop Your Car and Evaluate the Situation
If you’ve crashed into something, then your immediate reaction needs to be to stop your car. Never leave an accident scene even when you think the damage was minimal.
According to Rhode Island police, you could get charged with a hit and run offense if you do. This holds true even if it’s later determined you were not at fault for the accident.
Immediately analyze your situation and decide whether it’s safe to stay put. If it’s necessary, you may need to move to the side of the road while you perform the next steps.
2. Check Everyone for Injuries
Once you’ve verified your immediate safety, you need to check everyone for injuries. Start with yourself and your passengers.
Sometimes in bad car wrecks, injuries can be severe. If someone is unconscious or could have a back injury, then don’t move them. Instead, call 911 right away.
Next, check the driver and passengers in any other cars involved.
3. Call the Police
After an automobile accident, it’s natural to want to avoid calling the cops. Despite that, you need to call the police to protect yourself and your rights. Otherwise, you may not be able to prove an accident even happened.
Reach out to the police and let them know what happened. They will arrive and tend to any immediate car accident injuries. They’ll also help clear the roadway of any accident debris.
The police will also document the accident by creating a police report. Immediately upon arriving, they’ll start an investigation into what caused the accident.
4. Document Evidence at the Scene
While you’re waiting for police to arrive, you can start documenting important information. If you’re able, then here’s what you should do:
- Collect the names and contact information of witnesses
- Photograph the scene and accident damage
- Photograph any damaged personal items inside the car
- Preserve any dash cam footage
- Take note of any nearby businesses that may have surveillance cameras
- Document the name of the tow truck company responsible for getting your car
These steps can help you preserve crucial time-sensitive road accident evidence.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
It’s also important to call your insurance company to inform them about what happened. You do need to be careful about what you say, though.
Here are a few tips on what not to do while talking with your insurance agent:
- Do not admit fault in the accident
- Never make statements like, “I’m OK.” or “I wasn’t hurt.”
- Don’t discuss your injuries in depth
- Don’t accept an early settlement offer
It’s important to remember these tips. If you do admit fault or accept an offer, then you may hurt your future chances at compensation.
6. Get Medical Care ASAP
When the police and emergency medical team arrive, they’ll check for injuries. If injuries are severe, then you can get transported to the hospital.
If a child gets injured, then it’s best to bring them to the hospital right away. The World Health Organization says car accidents are the leading cause of death for kids. This remains true for children from age five to 29.
If you refuse immediate medical attention, then it’s important to seek out your own care as soon as you can. Make an appointment with your doctor even if you don’t think your injuries are extreme. Why?
Many accident-related injuries, like whiplash, won’t be obvious right away. Often, delayed symptoms won’t appear for days to weeks. Visiting the doctor protects your rights if you do find delayed injuries later.
7. Start a Case File
Your doctor visit will result in a bill. Document your visit and save your bill.
It’s best to begin building a case file at this point. A folder or binder is perfect. Begin keeping every bill or recording every loss related to your injury.
This case file will be crucial if you ever decide to pursue compensation at a later date. It will also help prevent you from accepting a settlement below what your claim is worth.
8. Calculate the Property Damage
Next, you’ll need to calculate how much property damage you incurred in the accident. Depending on the situation, your car may get deemed a total loss.
Be sure to keep any repair bills or estimates in your case file.
If the property damage is significant, then a loss of transportation can add to your losses. Are you missing work due to an inability to drive? Record this information in your file as well.
9. Follow Up on the Car Wreck Investigation
Once you’ve tended to your immediate needs, it’s time to follow up with the case. You’ll want to reach out to the police department that responded to your accident.
Ask the officers whether they’ve determined what caused the accident. You can also request a copy of the official police report. Add this report to your case file.
10. Reach Out to an Attorney
After taking the above steps, you need to review the case file you started. You should have a clear idea of the combined medical bills, property damage, and other losses. Are your losses beginning to pile up?
If so, then it may be time to begin considering how to get your rightful compensation. Often, a settlement offer won’t be enough to cover your actual losses.
An attorney can help.
Protecting Yourself After a Crash
Car wrecks can be disastrous, and the aftermath often continues to impact a victim’s life for a long time. Always follow the above ten steps after a crash to ensure you’re protecting yourself.
Were you recently injured in a bad car accident? Have you considered seeking compensation for your injuries in court? Leave us a message now to get started on your legal case.
Mark Dana has been practicing in Rhode Island for over 25 years. He has handled hundreds of cases in courthouses throughout the state. Due to Attorney Dana’s knowledge and reputation, he can often be seen appearing as the legal commentator for NBC 10 in Providence.