Every year, about 6 million car accidents occur throughout the country. These crashes cause about 3 million injuries each year. Of these, about 2 million drivers develop permanent injuries.
Were you injured in a car crash? Is your car totaled? You shouldn’t have to worry about a potential disability on top of medical bills and property damage.
Instead, it helps to have a plan. What you do immediately after a crash can make a difference. With this car accident checklist, you can learn what to do after a car crash without skipping a step.
Then, you can build a case for yourself and receive the compensation you deserve.
Don’t wait until a crash happens. Instead, get ahead by reading this “what to do after a car accident” checklist!
1. Get to Safety
Immediately after a crash, it’s important to prioritize your safety. It’s normal to feel a little disoriented. The adrenaline rush might fog your common sense for a moment.
First, take a deep breath. Put your hazard lights on and determine whether or not your car is safe to drive. If it doesn’t seem operable, don’t risk your safety.
Instead, leave your car where it is until police arrive. They can advise you on a safe way to move your vehicle.
If your car is safe to drive, move it out of the way of incoming traffic. Otherwise, you might risk causing another crash.
It’s also important to remain at the scene of the accident. If you leave before the police arrive, you might put yourself in legal danger. You might even face criminal penalties.
If the other driver leaves the scene of the crash after hitting your car, they can get charged for a hit-and-run.
Did someone sustain injuries or die as a result of the crash? The legal consequences could become even more severe. Make sure to use this car accident checklist to protect your rights.
Once your car is in a safe place, wait for the police to arrive.
2. Assess Your Injuries
Once you and your car are moved to safety, assess your injuries. Once you’re sure of your own safety, check on your passengers and the other drivers. If anyone was injured, call for medical attention as soon as possible.
Remember, an adrenaline rush can blur your sense of logic. It can also numb your pain. you might not realize you’ve sustained a serious injury until days after your crash.
Make sure to get a medical expert’s opinion about your condition.
If your car was rear-ended, you might have sustained a whiplash injury. Whiplash can throw your spine out of alignment. You might experience neck or back pain in the days after your accident.
Was someone else seriously injured? Don’t rush to move them unless absolutely necessary. Instead, let a medical expert move them.
Moving someone who was injured in a crash might cause back or neck injuries.
3. Speak With the Police
If you want to learn what to do after a car accident, don’t forget to speak to the police. It’s not your job to determine who caused the accident. Instead, leave that to the police and your lawyer.
The police will file an official police report regarding the crash. In some states, you’re legally required to file a police report. Don’t skip this step.
If you’re not sure about your state’s laws, call the police to cover your bases.
The police report will review your physical injuries, property damage, and any deaths that occurred as a result of the crash. Once the officer completes their review of the accident, ask for their name and a card.
Your lawyer might want to contact the officer who arrived at the scene of the crash later.
You’ll also need a copy of the official police report for your case.
4. Limit Conversation
As you wait for the police to arrive, it’s important to avoid small talk with the other party. You might say something that makes it seem like you’re accepting fault for the crash.
Make sure not to apologize. The other party’s lawyer might use an apology as an admission of guilt.
You don’t have to mention anything about your injuries or offer your opinion about what happened. Instead, tell the other party you want to wait for the police to arrive.
5. Gather Evidence
Don’t rely on the official police report. As part of your car accident checklist, it’s important to gather your own evidence, too.
First, gather information about the other driver. You’ll need their name, phone number, and address. You can also ask for their license plate number, driver’s license number, and insurance information.
Next, you’ll need to gather information about the crash itself.
For starters, write down the make, model, and year of the other driver’s vehicle. Where and when did the accident take place?
Make a note of what road you were driving on and the nearest cross street. Was it raining or sunny when you were driving? What direction was the other driver going in?
You might start to forget certain details in the weeks after your crash. Taking note of what happened while you’re at the scene will help you avoid forgetting.
6. Snap Photos
You don’t have to rely on your notes. Taking photos can also help you keep an accurate record of events.
Take photos of your car, the other driver’s vehicle, and the area around you. How are the cars positioned?
You can take photos of any injuries you sustained as a result of the accident.
Taking photos can make a big difference to your lawsuit. The jury can rely on your photos instead of on storytelling to understand what happened.
7. Call Your Insurer
Make sure to contact your insurance company while you’re still at the scene of the accident. Let them know you were in a crash. Then, ask them what to do after a car accident to file your insurance claim.
8. File Your Claim
Some insurance companies have an app they want you to use to file your claim. You might need to take photos of the accident using the app.
It can help to download the app before you’re in a car accident. That way, you’re prepared. You can also speak with your insurer before a crash to learn how to handle a car accident claim.
9. Visit a Doctor
Remember, adrenaline might mask the pain you’re in after a car crash. As part of your car accident checklist, it’s important to visit a doctor. Let them assess your injuries.
Car crash-related injuries are expensive. Between your medical care and lost wages, the expenses can stack up. Injuries and deaths associated with crashes exceed over $75 billion each year.
Keep a record of all your doctor visits. Did you have to visit a specialist, such as a chiropractor for your back pain? Track their treatments and the medications they put you on, too.
Your lawyer will use this information to calculate the losses you experienced as a result of the crash.
10. Search for a Lawyer
You don’t have to pay off your medical bills and damages alone. Instead, consider hiring a car crash attorney. They can help you build a case to ensure you receive compensation for your losses.
There are over 135,221 personal injury lawyers and 56,494 personal injury law firms in the US. Before hiring a lawyer, it’s important to narrow down your options. Otherwise, you might end up with a lawyer who doesn’t have your best interests in mind.
When searching for a lawyer, make sure they specialize in car crash accidents. How long did they practice law? How long did they specialize in car crash lawsuits?
Choosing an experienced lawyer will give you peace of mind about their abilities.
Don’t forget to check your local bar association’s website to make sure they’re licensed to practice law in your state. You can also check their track record. You’ll want to choose a winner who will fight with your best interests in mind.
You can find an expert for car, truck, or motorcycle crashes here.
11. Determine the Cost
Before signing a contract, make sure to ask the lawyer about their fee structure. Car crashes cost about $871 billion globally. Does the lawyer you’re interested in fit your budget?
You might want to look for a lawyer who uses a contingency fee structure. These lawyers don’t require payment unless they win your case. If they do win, they’ll receive an agreed-upon percentage of your settlement.
If they don’t win your case, they don’t receive payment.
A contingency fee structure ensures the lawyer is incentivized to win your case. Otherwise, you could end up with a lawyer who requires a costly retainer. You could end up paying for legal bills and your medical bills.
12. Build Your Case
Once you choose a qualified lawyer, they’ll help you build your case. Then, you can file your lawsuit and fight to get the compensation you deserve.
It’s important to file your lawsuit as soon as possible. Otherwise, the statute of limitations might make it difficult for you to win your settlement.
Your Car Accident Checklist: 12 Steps to Take After a Crash
Don’t wait to build your case. Instead, use this car accident checklist to make the right steps after a crash. By taking these steps, you can gather the evidence you need.
Then, you can file your lawsuit to receive the compensation you deserve.
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