A car wreck is not an every day occurrence. The frightening event is likely to leave you shaken and unnerved. However, the steps you take at the accident scene and in the days and weeks following your crash could have a big impact on your physical recovery and on your personal injury claim.
What to Do at the Crash Scene
Amongst the chaotic crash scene, follow this plan of action to protect your health and your legal rights:
- Get medical help. First and foremost, call 911 if you or anybody else involved in the crash has been seriously hurt. Go to the hospital even if you believe your injuries are mild. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose the level and nature of your injuries.
- Obtain a police report. Even if only a so-called “minor” crash, call police to make a report. You need this report to file your claim with your insurance company and if you decide to pursue a civil lawsuit against a negligent driver.
- Remain in a safe place. If your crash occurs on a busy highway, you may be safest to remain in your car with your seat belt fastened and your hazard lights on. Or, you can move safely away from the edge of the highway if there is plenty of room off the shoulder. Never stand directly behind your car or right in front of it.
- Take pictures of the scene. Photograph the cars, accident debris, skid marks, street signs, obstructions to vision and other aspects of the crash scene. Step back for wide-angle photos that show the full scene. Remember to remain mindful of traffic and other dangers.
- Collect information from others. Make sure you have the name, insurance and contact information from the other driver. Also, ask for names and contact information from witnesses to the accident.
What to Do in the Days and Weeks Following Your Crash
During the days and weeks following your crash, make sure you:
- Call your insurance company. Many policies have a provision that requires notification of an accident within a certain number of days.
- Follow your doctor’s advice. Keep up with follow-up visits and treatment plans prescribed by your doctors.
- Keep a daily diary. Maintain a log of your doctors’ appointments, prescription medications, diagnostic tests and daily pain levels.
- Obtain a car repair estimate. First, you want your car repaired as soon as possible and covered by insurance. Also, the damage to your car is important evidence in your personal injury claim.
- Maintain records in an organized folder. Keep everything — your medical test results, doctors’ reports, auto repair invoices and employment records, for example.
- Retain an experienced personal injury lawyer. Johnson & Bennett offers a free case evaluation to discuss your rights and options for recovery.