Your first car accident can be a terrifying experience. Whether you’re a new driver or you’ve been driving for many years, getting in an accident can be stressful. Most people don’t know what to do after they’ve gotten in a car accident.
According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), more than 4 million people in the United States require medical attention each year because of car accidents. Their injuries result in more than $380 million in medical expenses. In addition to being costly, these injuries can be life-altering. This all makes it very important to know what to do to protect yourself after your first car accident.
What To Do At the Scene of the Car Accident
There are five critical steps to protecting yourself after your first car accident. You need to protect your physical health and document the evidence that appears at the accident scene before it’s too late. You also need to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure you have an experienced legal expert on your side.
How you respond to being in a car accident makes a difference in your long term physical, mental, and financial health. By keeping your wits about you and following the steps, you make things much easier for yourself in the future, as well as protecting your rights. Here are the 5 steps to do to protect yourself after your first car accident.
1. Check Yourself and Other Parties for Injuries
The most crucial thing in any car accident case is protecting the health and safety of the people involved. While sorting out legal liability and preserving evidence is important, attending to the medical needs of those involved is the most essential and should always be the first priority. If anyone has noticeable injuries, it’s vital to summon emergency medical responders to the scene. Car accident injuries can be subtle. You may have serious injuries and not even realize it. Be sure to err on the side of caution and call professionals to evaluate whether or not you or other parties have been injured.
In addition to being the right thing to do for everyone, mitigating injuries is an integral part of the financial recovery process. It’s important to minimize your injuries as much as possible by getting the appropriate treatment. However, you also need to document your injuries and prove that they’re connected to the car accident. The best way to show that your injuries are the result of the car accident is to seek medical care immediately.
2. Call the Police Right Away
All states have requirements that you call the police after a car accident. It’s always a good idea to call the authorities after an accident, especially if injuries are involved. Even if the police are unable to respond to the accident, you must still fulfill your duty to call the police.
If the police respond to the accident scene, they collect information from all parties, including driver’s license information, insurance details, and possibly vehicle registration. Whether the police collect the information or you collect it yourself, make sure that you have this information before you leave the scene of the accident. It will take some time before the police report, which should contain all the relevant information, will be ready and available to you. In addition, be sure to get the names, phone numbers, and addresses of everyone involved in the accident as well as any third-party witnesses that observe anything having to do with the accident.
3. Take Photos of Damages and the Car Accident Scene
When you’re at the accident scene, it’s your one opportunity to document the scene of the accident. Take photos of everything, large and small, even if you’re not sure that it matters or you think it’s only a minor traffic accident. You should take pictures of all the vehicles involved from all angles. Pay special attention to areas with physical damage. Photos of debris on the road, tire marks, and injuries to you and your passengers are also crucial to your defense.
It’s always better to have too many photos from the accident than not enough. Your car accident attorney can work with you later to determine what’s important and how to use them to your advantage. If you have documented images of the damage, injuries, and other details that occurred during the accident, it will only help to prove what really happened and protect yourself from false claims against you.
4. Contact a Car Accident Attorney for Help
Protecting yourself after your first car accident means safeguarding your legal rights. The sooner you hire a car accident lawyer, the sooner they can put you on the right track to getting the compensation that you deserve, as well as fighting off any unfair claims from anyone else.
An attorney speaks on your behalf, whether it’s to the insurance company, to other witnesses, or in legal proceedings. Your personal injury attorney is your advocate to make sure that you resolve your case with the best possible outcome. Most car accident lawyers work on contingency, meaning you don’t owe them anything unless you win your case. For this reason, don’t assume you can’t afford an experienced attorney after your first car accident. You have the right to proper legal representation.
5. File Your Insurance Claim
To get a payment from your insurance company, you need to file an insurance claim. The sooner you make a report to your insurance company, the better. In fact, most insurance companies set up a very short window of time for people to report a car accident. Fortunately, it’s not hard to initiate the claims process.
Starting an insurance claim doesn’t mean squinting while you spend hours typing tedious details into your phone. In fact, it should only take a few minutes to report your insurance claim. Depending on your insurance provider, you can make the report on the insurance company’s app, online or by phone.
Shortly after the accident, the insurance company just needs the basics, including where and when the accident occurred and who else was involved. Remember, when you make the report of the accident, you’re not agreeing to settle the case. Filing the insurance claim is only the beginning of the claims process. Your attorney assists you in making sure that you receive the right result for your insurance claim as part of their comprehensive legal representation in your case.
Taking the Right Steps After Your Car Accident
When you take the right steps after a car accident, you can resolve your case quickly and fairly. After a car accident, you should seek medical help, call the police, take photographs, and make your insurance claim. In addition, a car accident attorney is a critical part of taking the right steps after your first car accident.
If you live in Las Vegas or the surrounding area, your Las Vegas car accident attorney can assist you with every step of your case. They will give you step-by-step instructions for what to do after your car accident that will help you make the best choices that will protect you during the process. As your legal representative, your car accident lawyer in Las Vegas is your guide through every aspect of the proceedings. They ease the burden of responding appropriately to a car accident, and they also fight for your rights in the claims process. Together, you can protect yourself after your first car accident and get the compensation you deserve for your damages.
Tracy Cortez is a blogger for Adam S. Kutner, a personal injury law firm based in Las Vegas.