What to Do After a Car Accident: Checklist?
April 21, 2022 | Car Accidents
Car accidents happen every day throughout the country. While many accidents can seem minor, they may come with complex topics to address, such as medical treatment and getting a new car. You might assume that there is nothing you can do to prevent an accident or hold fault parties responsible, but you may be wrong. We have some tips on what you should do after an accident.
We understand that a car accident presents challenges, so we have created several checklists. By reading them, you will know exactly what to do when an accident happens and can build a strong case from the beginning.
You will need to call a car accident lawyer after an accident to discuss your legal options.
What to do at a car accident scene?
The first checklist covers what you need to do while still at the accident scene.
Try to calm down and go through this mental checklist while at an accident scene.
- Stop but try not to block traffic. The collision may have caused you to stop, making your vehicle immobile. It is crucial to stop your vehicle and stay at the scene; you may be subject to criminal penalties if you do not. You will need to turn off your engine as it can cause a fire.
- Direct other drivers to go around you and any other potential hazards. You do this by turning on your blinking lights, as some people know them. If you have an emergency kit in your trunk, set up flares around the area, especially at night when visibility may be poor. If another accident occurs due to failure to warn, those involved in the initial accident may be held liable for a secondary accident in some states.
- Administer aid to yourself and anyone in your vehicle first. Do not move any injured parties until emergency personnel arrives. If further injure a passenger by moving them, more legal complexities can arise. At this point, someone should have called an ambulance to assist the injured parties at the scene.
- Call emergency services so police and fire will likely arrive at the scene, especially if you report injuries. Cooperate fully with these parties. Do not admit fault but keep the details of the accident accurate. You should note the names, badge numbers, and departments of any officer you speak with. You may need this information later when you call a lawyer.
- When speaking to the police, inform them if you believe the other driver was under the influence. This information may prompt officials to conduct a sobriety test. It will also be important information included in the official police report. Do not accuse anyone of fault if you do not have a reason to do so, as lying can also harm your claim.
- Write down a recap of the accident. Write down every detail you remember while it is still fresh in your mind. This evidence should include the date, time, and location of the accident. You should also write down witness contact information like names, phone numbers, and addresses. Capture any relevant license plate numbers, such as the other drivers or any witnesses. The make and model of the vehicles involved will also be necessary to your case. If you do not carry a pen and paper in your vehicle, use the notes app on your phone to gather important information from the scene, including photographic evidence.
- If it is safe to do so, keep your vehicle where the accident left it until authorities tell you to move it. If you are completely blocking traffic, you should take photos and videos before moving the vehicles.
- If you have a pen and paper handy, make a rough sketch of the accident scene. Include any details you deem essential in your sketch,
- If possible, exchange driver information with the other parties involved. This exchange includes insurance, driver’s license, and contact information. You should also provide this information to the other driver involved.
- If the driver or any witness makes statements regarding how the accident occurred, make notes, as this can help your case down the line. Do not give statements to anyone outside of the police. In the same way that you are paying attention to witness statements and other information, the opposing party will likely be doing the same thing.
- Your vehicle may need towing; gather as much information as possible about the cost of towing and where the vehicle will go. Take photos of it before the tow truck arrives. If you are close enough to your residence, you may have your vehicle towed directly to your home. Don’t repair it till your car accident lawyer inspects the damage.
What to do upon filing a car accident claim?
Once you file a claim, this does not mean that your stress from the accident will go away.
You need to follow a few checklist items to complete a successful car accident claim:
- Stay organized: As we mentioned, you should create a folder specific to your car accident documents. This folder should include:
- Receipts for out of pocket expenses
- Vehicle repair estimates and documents
- Medical records
- A pain journal detailing how your injuries affect your day to day life
- Notes on any conversations you have about the accident and with whom
- Emails related to the accident
- Follow doctor’s orders: Follow all doctor’s orders and recommendations even if you believe your injury is minor. There can be underlying issues that can cause your condition to worsen over time. Following a doctor’s orders will also help a lawyer show the extent and severity of the injuries you suffered from the accident. An insurance company can argue that you are not as injured as reported because you are not obtaining the medical care recommended by specialists and doctors.
- Stay in contact with your lawyer: After you file a claim, you must stay in touch with your lawyer. They may require documentation that you must submit within a specific timeframe. If documents and other evidence are not timely, your claim can fail.
- Do not sign anything without a lawyer’s okay: The other party’s insurance company may want to close the claim as soon as possible. They will send you various documents and a settlement offer so you do not further pursue the claim. Above all else, do not sign anything they send you without speaking with a lawyer first.
You may also need to have car repairs completed on your vehicle. Before proceeding with repairs, please speak with your attorney and provide them with pictures of the damage. If your car is a total loss and no one can repair it, you should keep any documentation that says your vehicle is totaled. You are within your rights to get a second opinion on your vehicle repairs.
It is not always possible to avoid car accidents
While car accidents can happen at any moment and you cannot prevent all of them, you can keep yourself safer.
- Be cautious on wet roads.
- Turn on your headlight before sunset.
- Follow posted speed limits.
- If on a road trip, be sure to take breaks along the way.
- Always wear your seatbelt.
- Use your mirrors.
These are just a few ways to stay safe on the road. Even if you follow all of these tips, an accident can still occur through no fault of your own.
After a car crash, call a car accident lawyer and follow these checklists to protect your rights. You can leave the rest to your car accident attorney.
Call a car accident lawyer
When you call a lawyer, they will begin to build a case that will likely result in a fair settlement from the at-fault party’s insurance company. The value of your claim will depend on the specific factors of your case.
A lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company and seek compensation for:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Modifications to your home or vehicle
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death
Having a lawyer on your side can make a big difference in the success of your claim. While many accident victims think that an attorney will make the process more complex and lower settlement, the opposite can be true. Insurance companies will often try to lowball you or deny your claim altogether. When an experienced lawyer is involved, it will be more difficult for them to take advantage of accident victims and their families.
After a car accident, it is crucial to file a claim and follow the checklists mentioned above. There may be other items that you need to address, depending on the specifics of your case.
Call a car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options today.