People are getting on the road in their cars by the millions for vacation travel as summer begins. Over 250,000 people are killed in automobile accidents in the United States annually. Hundreds of thousands of other individuals are injured in car accidents, oftentimes seriously so. If you're involved in an automobile accident, there are seven important steps that you need to take in the aftermath of a car collision. These are:
- Ensure immediate medical needs are addressed
- Contact the police
- Exchange insurance information
- Exchange comprehensive contact information
- Document accident scene
- Seek medical evaluation
- Seek legal advice and guidance
Ensure Immediate Medical Needs are Addressed
Directly after an automobile accident, it is vital that any medical needs be addressed. This includes making certain that emergency medical personnel are dispatched to the scene of the accident if there is any indication that immediate injuries need to be addressed.
Contact the Police
In the aftermath of any automobile accident, the police must be notified. If the accident is serious, police must be dispatched to the scene. There are instances in which an automobile accident might be categorized as a "fender bender." Ideally, police are brought to the scene for these types of incidents as well. However, police departments may not dispatch patrol officers to such an incident. In addition, weather conditions may be such that members of the public are directed not to call officers to the scene unless an accident is particularly serious.
Even if police officers aren't dispatched to the scene because of prevailing weather conditions and low accident severity, a person involved in an accident needs to submit a police report nonetheless. Police departments across the country maintain avenues through which a person can file a police report following a less serious accident, oftentimes through online portals set up by the police department.
Exchange Insurance Information
Following an automobile accident, the drivers of all vehicles need to exchange insurance information. Thanks to smartphones, taking a photo of insurance cards is a convenient and advisable practice.
Exchange Comprehensive Contact Information
In addition to exchanging insurance information, parties to a car accident must exchange comprehensive contact information as well. This should include name, street address, phone number, and email address.
Document Accident Scene
Provided that this process can be safely undertaken (and medical issues are fully addressed), the accident scene should be fully documented. Fully documenting the accident scene ideally includes:
- Take photos or make videos of the accident scene
- Take photos or make videos of any injuries sustained
- Take photos or make videos of damages to vehicles
- Obtain the name and complete contact information of any witnesses to the accident
- Obtain witness statements if possible (taking videos of witness statements is a solid strategy if witnesses are willing to do so)
Seek Medical Evaluation
In many situations following an accident, a person involved in such a collision will feel that he or she has not been injured. Individuals in such a situation may forgo seeking a medical evaluation. The reality is that under no circumstances should a person involved in an automobile accident forgo seeking a medical evaluation.
An array of different types of injuries that oftentimes arise from car accidents are not immediately apparent. Thus, seeking a timely medical evaluation following any type of accident is vital. This is necessary not only to ensure prompt medical treatment but to document a claim that may need to be made for compensation for injuries sustained in an automobile accident.
Seek Legal Advice and Guidance
Finally, a person who's been injured as a result of an automobile accident needs to be proactive in seeking legal advice, guidance, and representation. There are personal injury attorneys that have broad experience in representing car accident injury clients.
Bear in mind that there are specific deadlines associated with filing insurance claims and pursuing lawsuits. These deadlines must be met or an injured person's legal rights can be significantly jeopardized.
In the aftermath of a car accident, satisfying each of these steps is crucial. Taking these steps protect an automobile accident victim's physical wellbeing and legal rights. Keep in mind that these are optimal strategies that the circumstances of a particular car collision may not allow. The need for legal assistance is underscored by gaps that can occur in the direct aftermath of a car accident.
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, a Doan Law Firm car accident lawyer is here for you. You can reach our firm 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling us at (800) 359-0000. There is no charge for an initial consultation with a car accident lawyer. Our firm never charges a fee unless we win for you.