Imagine this: you’re driving along when another vehicle collides with you out of the blue.
It’s easy to feel instant shock—not knowing what you should do next. In fact, it is common for most individuals to panic immediately, rather than staying as calm as possible given the situation. When the collision is caused by the negligent actions of another driver, you need to make the effort to follow specific steps to help protect your rights.
Understanding the things that you should do and say following a car accident is of the utmost importance. Why? Because you may have the right to take legal action against the negligent party, seeking compensation for the damages you have sustained. Knowing the steps to follow after a car accident and the relevant laws in your state are crucial to maximizing your recovery. To help, our firm has composed a step-by-step guide that you can follow to give you peace of mind and help with any possible claim.
1. Move the Vehicle off the Road
If possible, you want to ensure that your vehicle is out of the way. Leaving your vehicle in place for too long can expose you to another potential crash with drivers who are not paying attention to their surroundings. If you are unable to move the vehicle, call the authorities and safely make your way to the sidewalk. If the collision occurs on a highway, stay in your vehicle until the authorities arrive. This is because there are a number of vehicles traveling at higher speeds and you can be at a direct risk of serious injury. Once you are safely to the side of the road or highway, you can begin moving forward with the next step.
2. Be Mindful of What You Say
In a situation as devastating as a car accident, it is easy to feel remorse for everyone involved, even if they were the at-fault party. Be mindful of the things you say to the other parties or potential witnesses. Statements you make at the scene of the accident may be used against you later to either diminish the value of your claim or to turn it around and place blame on you for the crash.
When you speak with other parties, avoid saying things such as “I’m sorry,” “I didn’t see you there,” or any statement that may be seen as an admission of guilt. Apologizing gives the perception that you were at fault, which can be used by the insurance company and legal team to lower the value of your case. This could end up in police reports as well, which could be used as evidence in your case. Your interaction with the other party should be limited to exchanging information. This is one of the most important steps to follow after a car accident, particularly when it comes to your ability to recover fair compensation from the at-fault party (or parties).
3. Gather Information of Other Drivers & Witnesses
When a negligent party causes a collision, it’s essential to collect their information so you can file your claim. The main pieces of information that you want to obtain are a copy of the driver’s license, contact information, vehicle information, and insurance information. You can provide your insurance information with the other party as well, so they are prepared to answer questions regarding the collision. Knowing what insurance is required by the state can also help in this situation.
If witnesses were present, you may also want to ask if you can provide their information to the insurance company. Many people are willing to provide their contact information so they can provide a statement about what happened, their take on the accident, and any other information they may have. This can be used as a key piece of evidence moving forward so it is a crucial step to take.
4. Document the Scene of the Accident
If physically able, take the time to document the scene where the accident occurred to help prove negligence.
Some of the things you may want to consider doing include:
- Documenting weather conditions
- Taking photographs of stop signs, traffic lights, or other law-related signs
- Showing proof of skid marks (attempts to stop after traveling at higher speeds)
The more things you can document, the stronger the evidence may be in your favor. This can show whether or not the other driver was speeding, if they failed to observe a traffic sign, and more. For instance, if the accident occurred at a two-way stop where the negligent party ran a stop sign, taking pictures of the intersection can go a long way toward helping you.
5. Take Photos of the Damage
This includes making sure you are accurately portraying damage to your property and visual injuries. If you are physically able, take pictures of where the damage occurred on your vehicle. In some situations, an accident reconstructionist can use these photos to show how the collision occurred based on the location of the damage to the vehicle. If your body has bruising, visible broken bones, bleeding, or any situation which can be documented immediately, take a picture to help protect your case. There are some situations where injuries are not visible, so you may need to just document any pain you are feeling to be checked out by a medical professional later.
6. Seek Medical Attention
It's of the utmost importance to seek medical attention, for many reasons. First, your own well-being should be your #1 priority after an accident. Second, you give yourself a chance to be seen by a medical professional, which means any injuries you may have sustained will be documented by an expert.
If you are seriously injured, you may be unable to do the previous steps. Contacting the proper authorities will result in officers and paramedics coming to the scene in order to help. You will receive medical attention immediately, and further treatment later. The more in-depth information you have in your medical record, the clearer we can present a case on your behalf.
7. Call a Personal Injury Lawyer
After a crash, the initial aftermath is daunting. This is a situation many people don’t ever envision themselves experiencing, so knowing exactly what to do afterward can be confusing. By contacting a lawyer, you are setting yourself up to protect your rights in the event you need to take legal action against the responsible party.
A lawyer is helpful in proving negligence in your case. This includes the following:
- Proving that the driver had a duty of care to keep you and others on the road safe
- Proving that there was a breach of this duty by the driver due to a negligent action
- Proving that the negligent action is what led to the crash
- Proving that the injuries sustained were a direct result of the negligence-related accident
In any case, a lawyer can help protect you from being taken advantage of by large insurance companies and their legal teams. After sustaining an injury, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a low settlement from an insurance company that won’t even cover the medical bills. Obtaining a skilled lawyer means you have the strongest possible chance at maximum compensation.
More Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
In addition to taking the above seven steps, you can do other things to help yourself and your family after a motor vehicle accident. Don't forget about your mental health, as a serious collision and resulting injuries can have emotionally traumatizing consequences. Take the time to heal, recover, and spend time with loved ones. Don't return to work or other physical activity until you're truly ready. Listen to your doctor but also listen to yourself, and communicate any concerns you have regarding your physical and mental abilities. You may also find it helpful to join a support group if you were seriously injured or lost a family member in a car accident. Talking to people with similar experiences can provide considerable benefits.
Talk to a Car Accident Attorney at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC
Taking the right steps after a car accident can make all the difference. If you or someone you love has been hurt as a result of a collision caused by someone else, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Pennsylvania car accident lawyers. At Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, we have dedicated ourselves to protecting the rights of injury victims and seeking the outcome they deserve. Our team has secured tens of millions of dollars for our clients since 1922. We’re here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve and encourage you to get in touch with us as soon as possible.
Injured in a car accident? Call us today at (888) 498-3023. You never pay fees upfront.