Car accidents are unexpected and potentially devastating events. After you have been involved in a collision, it can be difficult to know exactly what you should do. It is important for you to learn the steps to take after a car accident so that you can protect yourself and make it likelier that you will be able to recover damages for your losses. If another driver’s negligence caused your injury accident, consult with the experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook to learn what to do next.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
In the aftermath of an accident, it is common for people to feel confused about what they should do. For that reason, it is a good idea to write down the steps to take after a car accident and to keep the list in your glove box. This may help you avoid crucial errors immediately after your accident and provide you with a roadmap of how to handle the situation.
Photographs of the vehicles involved in the accidents (including any damage to them) are important because they can provide important details about what happened. If you are able to do so after your accident, take pictures of the following:
- Your vehicle
- Other vehicles involved
- The scene of the accident
- The location
- Any speed limit signs
- Any tire marks or road defects
- Any visible injuries you suffered during the accident
Now that the majority of drivers carry smartphones with cameras, it’s easy to quickly take photos after an accident. Pictures are an important type of evidence in an accident because they can be used to prove that you were injured and that your vehicle was damaged if the other driver tries to dispute either fact. Information in pictures can also help to show how your accident occurred. For example, if you take photographs of skid marks and the weather conditions together with a stop sign, you might be able to demonstrate that your accident could only have happened if the other driver failed to stop at the stop sign and struck your vehicle when you were already passing through the intersection. The pictures could also show that the driver was driving faster than he or she should have been (because of the weather conditions seen in the photo) and attempted to brake suddenly to avoid hitting your car.
Call 911 and Stay at the Scene
Right after your accident, check yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 or your local law enforcement agency, and remain at the accident scene until help arrives. If anyone has been injured, provide first aid to the injured person while you are waiting. You should never leave the scene of an accident. If you do, you may face criminal charges.
When the police officer arrives, tell him or her what happened. Do not say that you are sorry or admit any fault. In some cases, at-fault drivers will attempt to blame the other drivers for their accidents. You should never apologize to an at-fault driver in an effort to placate him or her because your statements may be used against you. If the driver is belligerent, wait for the officers in your vehicle with the doors locked. Although the police officer should automatically write a report about the collision, ask him or her to do so if necessary.
Get Medical Attention
A common mistake that some accident victims make is failing to seek prompt medical attention after they have been involved in a car accident. If you wait to see your doctor, it can be difficult for you to prove that your injuries were caused by your accident instead of by an intervening event. Some injuries such as soft tissue injuries may not evince symptoms for hours or days after an accident. It is best for you to get a medical evaluation immediately after your accident instead of waiting. If the officer asks you if you have been injured, you should simply tell him or her that you want to get a medical examination and then follow through. This is one of the most critical steps to take after a car accident because it could affect your health as well as your wallet.
Do Not Give Recorded Statements or Sign Authorizations
If you are contacted by the other driver’s insurance company and asked to give a recorded statement, you should not agree to do so. Insurance companies may use recorded statements against people who have been injured in accidents. You also should not agree to sign a medical authorization. These allow insurance companies to review your medical history, and the companies will do so in an effort to blame your injuries on a different incident. You can politely refuse and tell the company that you want to talk to a personal injury lawyer before agreeing to give a statement or sign any documents.
Get Legal Help from the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook
One of the most important steps to take after a car accident is to get experienced legal help. It is important for you to get help as soon as you can after your accident so that your rights might be preserved. As time passes, witnesses and evidence may be lost. Getting help quickly can help your attorney find the witnesses to your accident and gather the evidence that might be important for your case. Call the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook today at 479-783-8000 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.