When you are involved in a car accident, whether you are seriously hurt, not injured at all, or something in between, the feelings afterward can range from disorienting to terrifying. You will have people telling you what to do and asking you questions and talking at you, but the best thing you can do is educate yourself before the fact so that, if you are ever involved in an auto accident, you have a subconscious knowledge of the moves to make that are in your best interest.
- Call the police.
Of course, the first thing to do after a car accident is call the police. They will come to the scene and investigate, take statements, gather evidence, and seek out witnesses. This also puts the accident officially on the books.
- Call an attorney.
Your second phone call could be to your insurance company, or it could be to your personal injury attorney who will manage all the insurance details for you. It only takes a brief interaction to get an auto accident lawyer working on your behalf, and it’s one of the smartest choices you can make. Getting in touch with a lawyer does not necessarily mean that you are going to sue the other party in the accident, but it does mean that you are concerned about knowing your rights after an accident.
- Use your smartphone.
Take advantage of a resource that’s likely right at your fingertips. If you’re well enough and not injured, document the scene yourself. Take photos of the damage to both cars, the time of day, debris in or out of the car, license plates, and any bodily injuries. Interview witnesses on video and have them tell their version of the story and provide their names so you can contact them later. Take notes about how you remember the crash occurring, or have someone videotape you – or tape yourself – speaking about the incident.
- Get medical treatment.
Even if you feel fine, even if you think you couldn’t possibly have suffered an injury, the shock of the car accident could have you feeling no pain. Or you may have gotten a concussion or suffered a traumatic brain injury, the aftereffects of which might not show up until later. Do not refuse medical treatment – if you come out of the exam with a clean bill of health, that’s fine, but don’t leave your well-being up to chance or a willingness to shake it off to avoid a hassle, a hospital, or medical bills.
- Be careful who you speak to.
It’s important to tell the police officer on the scene of your accident exactly what occurred. And you will tell your attorney the details as well because that is confidential attorney-client information. From there, be careful who you tell things to. Your insurance adjuster will ask questions – and they may not all be in your best interest. The other driver, their insurance adjuster, their attorney – all of these interactions are best handled through your personal injury lawyer. One seemingly innocuous or casual statement could be the difference between a million-dollar settlement in your favor and nothing.
Car accidents can be life changing. One instant can cause a lifetime of pain, insurmountable injuries, the inability to work, and a battle for justice. Make sure you’re taken good care of after an auto accident – the right personal injury attorney can ensure that your future is bright and financially secure.
About: David Christensen is an accident injury attorney at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He specializes in helping auto accident victims secure benefits from insurance companies and at-fault drivers.