What to Do After a Car Accident

Female Motorist Involved In Car Accident Calling Insurance Company Or Recovery Service

Do you know what to do when you’ve been involved in a car accident? In a minor accident with no injuries, of course, you move the cars out of the flow of traffic, contact the police, and exchange insurance information. But in a more serious crash, where cars may not be driveable and people may be injured, you may be shaken and in shock. Below we’ve outlined a checklist of what to do immediately after a car accident, as well as important steps to take in the days and weeks following.

Check for Injuries

The first thing to do after a car accident is determine whether you are injured, and if you have passengers, whether they have been hurt. If you must, move carefully to avoid aggravating any injuries. If anyone is at all injured, call 911 to request emergency services, including an ambulance.

This is not an overreaction. It is better to be examined by paramedics at the scene of an accident, and go to the ER if necessary, than to insist you are fine and discover later that you were hurt worse than you thought. Also, if there was another car involved in the accident, its occupants may also need medical attention. Do not attempt to move an injured person unless it is more dangerous to leave them where they are, such as if the vehicle is on fire.

If you can’t reach your phone, ask a bystander to call 911 for you, if they have not already done so.

Move to Safety, if Possible

If you are able to move without difficulty, and your car can be driven, drive it out of the flow of traffic to an area where you can safely wait for the police and emergency medical services. If you can move, but the car is not driveable, turn the engine off and your hazard lights on. Carefully exit your vehicle and move to a nearby safe area to await emergency services.

The priority is your physical safety and that of the others involved in the accident. However, if you are not in immediate danger and you are physically able, there are some other steps to take at this point.

Take Pictures of the Accident Scene

If you or anyone in your vehicle has a cell phone available, take as many pictures of the accident scene as soon as possible after the accident. After a car accident, a picture really is worth a thousand words, in showing conditions and property damage. If there is litigation over the accident, these pictures will be invaluable. In addition, take pictures of any injuries you and your passengers have suffered.

Exchange Information with the Other Driver(s)

If possible, exchange essential information with the other driver, including:

  • Full name
  • Contact information, including all phone numbers (cell, home, and work)
  • Insurance information
  • Make, model, color, and license plate number of vehicle

Obviously, if the other driver is unable or unwilling to communicate, or appears hostile, keep your distance and don’t jeopardize your safety.

Gather Witness Information

If you are able to safely do so, get the names and contact information of any witnesses, including cell, home, and work phone numbers. Ask them what they saw and write down what they say. If you don’t have anything to write with (after all, you’ve just been in a car accident) ask if you can record them on your phone.

File a Police Report

After a car accident, you will have the opportunity to speak with a police officer at the scene, or at the hospital if you are transported for medical care after the car accident. It is important to make an official report. If you need to seek compensation afterward, the police report will be important evidence.

Get Follow-Up Medical Attention

Whether or not you get medical care at the scene or immediately afterward, you should follow up with your own physician. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent, but can still be serious and life-limiting. Documenting your symptoms as soon as they appear is important. Keep a journal of your injuries, symptoms, and treatments. Try to update it daily.

Report the Accident to the Insurance Company

As soon afterward as you are able, report the accident to your insurance company and to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Failing to report the accident to your insurer could make it difficult for you to get compensation. Ask your insurance company if they will be contacting the insurance company for the at-fault driver. That driver may not want to report the accident to their insurance company and it is important that their insurer is aware of the accident.

A claims adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurer will perform a thorough investigation, and may insist on interviewing you. You are not required to speak with them, even if they insist. Refer them to your attorney and to the police report for the accident.

Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

There is no downside to getting the representation of an experienced car accident attorney. A study by the Insurance Research Council indicates that injury victims who are represented by an attorney receive settlements more than 3.5 greater than those received by unrepresented injury victims. In addition, you do not pay an injury attorney unless and until the attorney recovers money for you.

You should never sign anything presented to you by an insurance company without having an attorney review it. You could be inadvertently signing away rights, admitting to something you didn’t intend to, or settling for much less than you need and deserve.

Talk to a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer About Your Case Today

At Michigan Injury Attorneys, our focus is on helping our clients get the financial resources they are entitled to, and to hold the people who caused their injuries accountable. We know that a financial recovery can’t erase everything that you’ve suffered, but it can give you some security and peace of mind while you focus on what matters: getting better.

Our extensive trial experience means that we are prepared to pursue the most favorable settlement for you, and equipped to advocate for you in the courtroom if necessary. We are committed to making the legal process as productive and comfortable for you as possible. To learn more about what our attorneys can do for you after a car accident, contact Michigan Injury Attorneys today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a car accident lawyer.

Categories: Car Accidents