If you’re hurt in an auto accident, your first thoughts typically do not involve protecting your rights. Confusion and chaos often leave drivers and passengers unsure of what to do first after a car wreck. While we hope that you’re never involved in an accident, the car accident lawyers at Liggett Law Group know that being prepared is the best way to make sure the correct steps are taken after a crash. Here are the 10 most important steps to take after a car accident.
1) Ensure Your Safety and Call Law Enforcement
If it is possible, pull your car to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights to alert other motorists. If you or anyone else involved is injured, call 9-1-1 and ask for help.
If no injuries are immediately apparent, a call for emergency services may not be necessary, but police should still be called to the scene. Having an accident report on record will be important if you need to file a claim for damages and injuries. The police report will contain important information such as the other drivers’ license plate numbers, drivers’ license numbers as well as information from the police officers such as their badge numbers and written statements.
2) Gather Information and Exchange Information
Most drivers know to get the insurance information and phone numbers of the other parties in a car accident, but there’s much more to document at a crash site, including:
- Insurance policy number of the other driver;
- Names and contact information of witnesses;
- Photos and videos of the accident scene;
- Photos and videos of vehicle damage;
- Photos and videos of physical injuries;
- Details about the scene of the accident including road conditions and weather conditions;
- Detailed notes of what you remember about the accident, including the what happened leading up to the time of the accident and what happened afterward, with updates added as events unfold.
Memories can fade quickly, and the documentation mentioned here can help you keep a clear recollection of how the car accident occurred.
3) Don’t Admit Fault of the Car Crash
One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to NOT admit fault. It’s a common response for a car wreck victim to apologize to those involved, even if the crash was someone else’s fault.
Sometimes, a driver may believe the accident was their fault, but after the evidence is evaluated, it turns out there were other factors to blame and they were not at fault for the car accident. Our car accident attorneys recommend being very careful when speaking with the police, insurance providers, and/or any other parties involved to avoid inadvertently admitting responsibility for the crash. Any indication that you were at fault could seriously impact your ability to recover damages later.
4) Get Medical Treatment
Your immediate health and safety are of the utmost importance and should be your first concern after a car accident. If paramedics arrive on the scene, make sure you are checked out and any injuries are documented and treated.
Even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt, it’s important to see a doctor, whether at the accident scene or by going to the emergency room after the crash. Many common car accident injuries, such as whiplash, concussions or other traumatic brain injuries don’t show up right away. It’s important to have documentation from a medical professional to show the link between your auto accident and any injuries you sustain.
Once you’ve been checked out, make sure to follow all of the doctor’s treatment instructions, including going to any follow-up appointments.
5) Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney to Negotiate with the Insurance Company
The insurance claim and legal process should be guided by an experienced personal injury attorney who will make sure you are fully informed of all relevant laws and claims processes, especially in complex cases such as getting hit by someone without insurance or being involved with a hit and run accident.
Once the parties have submitted an insurance claim and the insurance company has proof of all medical expenses and losses, the insurance adjuster will often make a settlement offer. To get you the compensation you are due, your attorney will negotiate with the insurance adjuster to ensure that they do not take advantage of you through a low settlement.
Settlement discussions can drag on, but a knowledgeable attorney will know how to establish a winning case to get clients the financial compensation they deserve. An experienced car accident lawyer will collect the evidence needed to prove liability and seek the damages to get their clients what they are owed.
6) Litigating a Car Accident Case
Victims of car accidents must comprehend that they are not liable for the expenses incurred as a result of the at-fault driver’s negligence. This means that in order to recover money for medical bills, proerty damage, etc., your car accident attorney must prove liability and show all four elements of negligence which include:
An automobile accident case could take several months to several years to complete from start to finish. The length of time depends on a variety of factors including the complexity of the accident. In Texas, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury case is 2 years. The sooner you contact a personal injury attorney, the sooner they can begin investigating your case.
7) Contact Ted Liggett
No matter how minor your auto accident is, it’s always a good idea to consult a car accident attorney before discussing the crash with an insurance company or accepting any settlement offers. Insurance companies will often make a quick settlement offer that is far lower than you are entitled to. If you accept this offer, the claim is completed, even if you realize later that it didn’t cover all of your damages.
An experienced trial lawyer at Liggett Law Group will negotiate the best possible settlement because we know when you are getting a fair amount. If negotiations are unsuccessful, we will aggressively pursue your right to fair compensation in court.