7 Steps to Take After You’ve Been in a Car Accident
Being involved in any type of auto accident is not an easy experience. Whether you have been injured or don’t yet feel pain in the immediate aftermath of a wreck, it is important to know the steps you should be taking to protect your rights, your health, and any personal injury claim you may choose to file against the at-fault party. Remember, the things you say and do after a car accident can make all the difference in your ability to secure financial compensation for your damages, including your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering, among others. You need to know what to do.
To help you get prepared for the unexpected, our legal team at Traywick Law Offices has compiled a list of 7 important steps you should be taking after you have been involved in a car wreck:
- Stop at the Scene – After any collision, even if it is seemingly minor, you should always stop at the scene. South Carolina law requires motorists to stop at the scene of an accident and render aid if needed. Fleeing the scene of a crash not only compromises any recovery you can make, but may also subject you to criminal charges.
- Call The Police – Involving law enforcement in one’s personal life is not always on everyone’s list, but it is immensely important following a car wreck. By contacting the authorities, you can ensure any emergency medical services are notified if treatment is required at the scene. A law enforcement officer who responds to your accident can also collect information and speak to parties involved in order to compile a police report. This report can provide evidence in any personal injury claim you may file later on.
- Watch What You Say – When speaking with other drivers involved in your wreck, as well as witnesses or law enforcement officers, you need to be careful of what you say. Be sure to avoid apologizing, even if it is a natural reaction, and making statements that can be interpreted as accepting fault. Remember, you don’t yet have all the facts about what caused the accident. Additionally, insurance companies are quick to point out apologies and these statements as signs that you caused a crash, even when you were not at fault.
- Get as Much Info as Possible – If you are able to do so, collect as much detailed information from the scene as you can. Important information to collect would be contacts for all involved parties, insurance details from any drivers involved, any witness information, and vehicle and license information. If you have a smartphone, you can also take photographs of the scene, roadway and traffic signs, damage to your car and other involved automobiles, and any injuries you may have suffered. This information can be used as evidence to support your claim.
- Write Down What Happened – While the details are still fresh in your mind, you should make it a point to jot down everything you can remember about the accident. Where were you traveling, how fast, and who was involved are a few points to record. Documenting the events early on can ensure you do not forget them, or that they don’t change with fading memory.
- Seek Timely Medical Attention – Seeking medical attention is critical to your health. Even if you don’t immediately feel pain after a wreck, some injuries may not present themselves until time passes. By seeking timely medical attention, you can rule out any serious injuries and begin the treatment you need. Visiting a doctor as soon as possible, or following up after being treated at the scene or emergency room, can also protect you when you file a claim. Insurance companies are quick to point out when victims wait or fail to seek treatment, and state that it shows claimants did not really suffer actual injuries, even if you were suffering from pain the whole time.
- Be Wary of the Insurance Company – When speaking to the other driver’s insurance company, you need to be aware that they are not on your side. Insurance companies are corporations that care more about profits than they do people or injured victims, and they will employ tactics to help them deny, dispute, or underpay your claim. You do not have to speak to insurers, and instead can have a lawyer handle communications on your behalf. You should also aware that you may be offered lowball settlement offers when you still don’t know the full scope of your injuries and damages. Accepting less than you deserve can leave you on the hook for other expenses in the future.
- Call a Lawyer – The single most important thing you can do after being involved in a car accident of any type is to contact a qualified personal injury lawyer. At Traywick Law Offices, our legal team is available to victims immediately following their accidents, and can help explain your rights and how we can guide you through the process ahead. With an advocate on your side who knows how to fight back against insurance companies that want to protect their bottom line, you can position yourself to secure a full and fair recovery.
If you want more information about your rights and what you should be doing to begin the personal injury claim process following a car wreck, please reach out to a Charleston car accident lawyer from Traywick Law Offices. Contact us for a free consultation.