The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2009 that out of 211 million drivers, 16.5 million were involved in car accidents; meaning drivers had a one in 12 chance of being involved in a vehicular accident when venturing out on the roads.
Accidents are inevitable, statistically speaking, and learning the basics of how to respond is vital. Here’s a quick look at the steps you need to follow during the first 48 hours after an accident has occurred.
Seek Medical Attention
If you or anyone else has been injured in the accident, medical attention should be sought immediately. Documentation of any injuries will be of the utmost importance in relation to filing an insurance claim. If you don’t notice any immediate injuries but feel them coming on during the next day or two, it’s still imperative to seek treatment. All medical treatment you receive in relation to the accident should be well-documented and passed on to the responsible insurance agency.
Contact a Lawyer
One of the most vital steps to take after an accident is to contact a lawyer. Even more important is that you only speak to your insurance agency or a police officer to report the accident; do not state whether or not you feel you were or were not at fault. A lawyer can communicate with these entities on your behalf, which is critical in defending your innocence. While most accidents don’t result in criminal charges, if yours does, proving your innocence could be the difference between going to jail and remaining free.
Even if the accident doesn’t involve criminal offenses, a lawyer can communicate with your insurance company to help you get the compensation you deserve.
Jot Down Names and Numbers of Witnesses
It’s also pertinent to jot down the names and contact information of any witnesses, and give it to your lawyer. If need be, the lawyer can use the witnesses’ recollections of the accident when filing your insurance claim. Talking with these witnesses can also help pinpoint relevant factors, such as whether or not the accident site is prone to accidents.
Take Plenty of Pictures
Unless you’re seriously injured, taking pictures with your smartphone or a camera is a smart move to make directly after the accident occurs. Even if the vehicles involved are moved from the roadway, it’s still important to take pictures of the damage. Don’t, however, give these pictures to your insurance agency. Instead, send them to your lawyer; he or she will know which pictures need to be turned over.
Don’t Admit Any Fault
After an accident takes place — especially during the first 48 hours — there will be lots of people asking you about the incident and how you are feeling. While it’s okay to acknowledge that the accident took place, it’s best to avoid in-depth details. And although your insurance company is undoubtedly on your side, you’ll still want your personal injury attorney to do all of the communicating. If any insurance agencies contact you, simply tell them they will need to speak with your lawyer.
Don’t Accept an Offer Without Your Attorney’s Consultation
Even if you receive a quick, fair-sounding settlement offer, you should never accept it without first speaking with your attorney. After all, you don’t want to settle for an amount that doesn’t cover all expenses you may incur as a result of the accident. A professional car accident attorney can review the offer and determine whether or not to accept it or negotiate.
The first 48 hours after an accident are of the utmost importance. In a nutshell, make sure to take plenty of pictures of the accident, receive any needed medical treatment, and above all, hire an attorney to handle the legalities of the case. Call us today at (405) 703-4567.