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What steps should you take after you have been in a car crash?

Car crashes can be life-changing experiences. This ordeal can involve dealing with medical providers such as hospitals and chiropractors, insurance agencies, and even sometimes the court system. Depending on the severity of the crash the process of dealing with the car accident could consume your life from months, years or even the rest of your life. No matter the length of time the process takes, the key thing is to get you back on your feet back to normal again as quickly as possible, and to get compensated for any injuries sustained. 

While many steps in the recovery process are medical, financial recovery can be time consuming as well. For this matter, securing a personal injury lawyer to assist you in your claim is essential. 

There are over 6 million car accidents each year, and of these accidents around 3 million are injured. 

If you find yourself injured after a car accident, you could deal with more than just recovery physically. Financially you could be impacted by having to miss work and pay expensive medical bills from the hospital to rehab.

Taking legal action could help you recover these financial losses to allow you ease of mind in your recovery process. 

When you are in a car accident here are some steps to take immediately. These steps are important legally because what you do after a car crash could truly make or break your case.

Here is a checklist of steps to take on the road to recovery, and securing compensation for your injuries. 

  Step 1: Ensure your safety.

After a car crash, it is important to stay alert and ensure your safety above all else. Once you gather yourself, try to pull over onto a safe place off the main road, and turn on your hazard lights. Do not leave your vehicle to avoid getting hit by an oncoming car.

It is important to stay calm and understand that the post-accident process is straightforward. While it is not always stress-free, there is in fact a path for your case. Keeping calm will likely help you document the wreck more accurately and save crucial evidence for your case. 

Once you have pulled out of traffic into safety, do a quick safety check of the vehicle. If you smell gas, leave your vehicle immediately, and leave the car where it is. Move to the safest nearby space away from the vehicle until the police or medics arrive. At this point in time, personal safety is key over everything. 

Do not leave the scene of the car crash when there was any kind of injury or someone was killed, or this could lead to negative legal consequences. Fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal when there is an injury or death, and could be considered a hit and run, making you seem more guilty. Stay at the scene and remember to remain calm. 

If there are any injuries, make sure you assess where you are hurt. If you need medical attention make sure to call an ambulance so they can send over some emergency responders to assist you. 

If you have no or minimal injuries, you can check on the safety of other drivers involved in the crash. However, only look for their safety, and do not discuss the crash. Legally, it is important not to get into conversations regarding the accident, which could be used against you later with insurance involved.

Even if you do not feel like you have injuries directly after the crash, it is typical to discover injuries hours to days after the accident. This is due to the fact that adrenaline after a crash keeps you from feeling pain or realizing your injuries.

Therefore, for your case, consider going to the emergency room, urgent care clinic or your local physician. These individuals are skilled at determining whether you have certain injuries when you may not be able to realize yourself at the time of the crash due to the adrenaline rushed into your system.

Step 2: Call 911.

Make sure that once you are pulled over and have ensured your own safety that you call 911 to call police to the scene. In some states this a legal requirement, but for those that it is not, it is smart for your legal case to create a police report getting evidence from the scene of the crash.

Even if you think you are at fault, it is essential to call 911 and stay on the scene. It is also important both cars stay for the police report to be filed to get the most accurate information possible at the time. If you don’t get a police report you will likely have to report the accident to the DMV later which could become even more stressful having to recall information.

Even if there is minimal damage, and no injuries, calling the police never hurts. It is important to get an official record of the details of the crash.

When the police arrive they will create an accident or police report. This will allow an attorney to evaluate your legal case more easily. The report provides details about the crash, how it occurred, documents the parties, and provides other information attorneys will need when determining you legal case. 

It could be helpful to get the officer’s name and badge number and report number to get a copy of the report when it is complete. 

It is important not to make small talk at the scene of the crash while waiting for the police. Do not offer your opinion on anything related to the crash, and only exchange necessary information while waiting for the police to come.

Again it is crucial, the less you say about the car accident, the better it will be for you and your future legal case. Do not admit fault to anyone.

Step 3: Collect Important Information.

While you wait for the police to assess the car accident, you can try to gather information you may need for your claim later on. This will help you legal case and insurance agencies. Some things that you made need to gather from the other driver from the car crash would be: 

·      The name of the other driver

·      The other driver’s address

·      The other driver’s license ID

·      The other driver’s license plate number

·      The other driver’s phone number if they will provide it

·      The other driver’s insurance information

Looking at the accident itself, it is important you note key information to relay to your lawyer and insurance provider. This is important to do at the scene just in case you forget certain details in the days to come. Courts also rely more heavily on accounts from the scene opposed to accounts from days, weeks or months later. 

It may even be wise to draw a diagram of the crash or make notes on your smartphone. It may also be smart to take pictures with your smartphone of the scene.

Note the following:

·      Where the accident occurred

·      The road you were on when you crashed

·      The direction you and the other car were travelling at the time of the accident

·      The driving conditions

·      The weather conditions

·      Your personal recollection of the crash

·      The time and date of the accident

·      Police officer’s name and phone number

·      Personal notes on what happened during the incident

·      Photos of any damage

It is also important not to make small talk. If someone asks you at the scene if you are okay, just note that you are not sure and only your doctor can assess the situation. Keep any contact to a minimum except essential communication.

Step 4: Contact Your Insurance Provider.

After the car crash, it is crucial to contact your insurance company and inform them of the crash. Contacting them does not mean you are at fault. They need to know of the crash just in case the other driver is not insured. It is also important to determine what insurance coverage would apply because certain coverages are better for your situation.

Assuming the other driver is at fault, for your vehicle, the other driver’s property damage liability insurance  will pay for repairs up to their policy limit.

For any of your medical bills, these will be covered up to the limit of the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. However if you live in a no-fault state, your own personal injury protection would then cover your medical expenses. 

If the other driver does not have insurance, uninsured motorist coverage will pay out. This is required in 21 states and the District of Columbia. 

The insurance company is crucial in providing your lawyer with key information from the car crash. They can work with the other driver’s insurance as well. 

If the other driver’s insurance does not reach out, get into contact with them to let them know you were in a wreck with one of their policyholders. It is also important to note that you only need to provide essential information, and no recorded statements which could later hurt your case and be used against you. 

Step 5: Decide Whether to File a Claim. 

While a driver may wish to pay for damage from a vehicle from their own pockets, it may be wise to file a claim. Even minor damage can cost up to $6,000 depending on the vehicle.

If an accident was the other driver’s fault, you still may need to be prepared to file a claim with your insurance agency and pay a deductible. They will work with the other insurance company and refund a deductible. 

If you live in a no-fault state, your personal injury insurance will cover you and anyone in the car with you from the car crash. 

The other company will do an investigation to determine if their policyholder is at fault. An adjuster will then get a repair estimate from you to assess damages on the vehicle.

If for some reason their coverage is insufficient, your own coverage could be an option as well. Uninsured motorist coverage would likely work just as well. Deductibles for both will also usually apply.

Step 6: Call an Attorney

After you have taken the steps above, it is important to contact an attorney to take your case, and provide important details from the car accident. It is important to find a firm that has specialty and experience in car accident cases. 

Hiring an attorney can put someone in your corner who not only understands your state’s laws, but can put all their efforts into working on your case while you work on getting back healthy, happy and normal again.

Important details to keep track for your attorney are medical expenses including care for injuries from the car crash, and a record of visits to either doctor or clinic medication and treatments.

Talk to an attorney about injuries from the car accident, and any and all information from the car accident to make your case. To best evaluate your case, the lawyer will need all the information you are able to collect. 

The Cochran Firm 

The Cochran Firm has experience dealing with car accident cases, as well as truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and bus accidents as well. 

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an auto accident, you need a dedicated attorney on your side. The experienced auto accident lawyers at The Cochran Firm have a proven record of helping victims of injury get maximum compensation. We are here to take your case, fight for your rights, and help you get the justice you are due. If you are in need of an auto accident attorney, please contact The Cochran Firm online or by calling (800) 843-3476 today to be put in touch with a lawyer in your area.

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm also accept cases ranging from boating injuries to airplane accidents. Therefore, no matter the vehicle you were in when your accident may have occurred, the experienced auto accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you get the compensation you need to make your road to recovery the easiest and most efficient. 

Our attorneys work with a network of experts to thoroughly investigate car crashes and identify all the contributing factors to the crash. The Cochran firm utilizes this information to build solid evidence-based cases that will greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome. If necessary, the attorneys can take the case to trial to get the compensation you deserve.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our auto accident attorneys, please contact us today. We maintain offices throughout the United States, better enabling us to fight tirelessly for the rights of injury victims in all areas of the country.

Resources:

Reason Over Law

Nerd Wallet

Cochran Firm

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