With so many cars traveling on the roadways today, the chances of finding yourself in a car accident at some point in your life are very high. The best way to avoid a car wreck in the first place is to practice defensive driving while behind the wheel. Always assume that the cars around you are being operated by bad drivers. Remember to be diligent and take precautions while operating your vehicle on the road. However, if you do get involved in an auto accident, it is critical to know exactly what to do next. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate that process. Following these steps will ensure you protect your rights for any potential litigation that results after the collision.
1. Assess whether you can move your vehicle to a safer location.
If your car has not suffered disabling damage and you are able to move it, then move it to a safe area where you are out of harm’s way. For instance, activate your flashers and move the car off the roadway into an emergency lane or median. If you have doubts about your ability to safely move your vehicle, then do not attempt to do so. Simply activate your flashers and, depending on your injuries, try to walk to a safe distance off the roadway while you wait for further assistance.
2. Call the police.
This is a critical step that should never be skipped, regardless of the seriousness of the car accident. All too often, especially in minor accidents, drivers make agreements among themselves as to who was at fault for the accident and decide to exchange information and then leave the scene. DO NOT DO THIS. Have a police officer come to the scene to investigate the accident. Once they inspect the scene and hear from both drivers, the officer will determine who was at fault for the accident. The officer will make an official accident report that will be critical evidence if a lawsuit needs to be filed. That accident report will state in black and white who was at fault for the car wreck. Having that opinion on an official report is much better than dealing with a “he said, she said” situation at a later date. The officer will also inspect the condition of the drivers and confirm they are properly licensed to drive their respective vehicles. The results of those inspections will similarly be very important if a lawsuit needs to be filed. Lastly, the officer will gather insurance and contact information from the drivers. By calling an officer to the scene, you make your life easier by allowing them to do that work for you. Always remember that failing to call the police can cause serious issues for your case later on.
3. Take photographs, and lots of them.
Luckily, with advances in cell phone technology most of us have cameras on our phones that can take professional-grade photographs. Take advantage of that technology and take photos at the scene of the car accident. Ideally, you want to take photos of all vehicles involved from multiple angles. At the very least, take photos of the damage to the vehicles. If you have suffered injuries preventing you from taking photos yourself, try to have someone else take them for you at the scene. Sometimes lawsuits are not filed for many months after a wreck. By that time, a vehicle can be sold, repaired, or involved in other car accidents, making it unclear what damage was caused by which wreck. If there are no photos of the damage, it can be argued that the car wreck was not as serious as it actually was. It is best to avoid these issues by taking photos right there at the scene.
4. If injured, get the medical treatment you need.
If you are injured in an accident, it is critical to not hesitate to go get medical care. If you followed step 2 above, the responding police officer will ask if you need medical assistance. This is not a time to try to be tough and hope your aches and pains will go away in the upcoming days. If you have any pain or injuries, regardless of their severity, you should go get checked out by a medical doctor. All too often, people wait too long to go see a doctor. That gap in time from the car accident to when you see a doctor can be used against you during your insurance claim or lawsuit.
5. Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible.
Your insurance policy includes dozens of pages with terms and conditions of coverage. Within those pages are requirements that you must adhere to in order to receive the coverage you paid for. One such requirement is notifying your insurer of the auto accident within a certain period of time. Unfortunately, drivers do not always do this in the time required. This is especially common when the car accident was the other driver’s fault and you therefore assume that their insurance company will take care of your damaged vehicle or any injuries you suffer. For a number of reasons, that is not always the case, so you need to make sure you notify your own insurance company regardless of who caused the accident. To avoid these potential problems, it is best to call your insurance company the day of the accident and notify them of the car wreck. Also, always remember that if an insurance company asks you for a recorded statement you should politely decline, as those statements can be used against you at a later date.
6. Call The Eichholz Law Firm.
The moment you realize you have been injured in a car accident, you should call a skilled personal injury law firm like ours to assist you. Bringing claims against an insurance company is incredibly complicated. If you try to go it alone, the insurance companies will fight you tooth and nail and try to take advantage of you at every turn. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible on your claims and they can be ruthless in their attempts to do so. Our attorneys are here to help and take that fight off your hands. Do not hesitate to call us day or night at 855-551-1019. The Eichholz Law Firm’s experienced lawyers can make sure your rights are protected and you are fairly compensated for your injuries.