6 Steps to Take Immediately Following a Car Accident
On average, there are 6 million car accidents in the United States every year, resulting in roughly 3 million injured victims. Even worse, it was reported that 36,560 people died in 2018 as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
Unfortunately, car accidents happen each and every day. You can take precautions to avoid involvement in a car collision. However, there is always a risk that you could be involved in an accident.
So, what do you do if you are involved in a car accident? While you can’t always avoid an accident, there are certain things you should know so that you can be prepared in case one does occur. Here are the six steps you should take immediately following a car accident to best protect yourself, your loved ones, and your rights.
Step 1: Stop and Check for Any Injuries
First and foremost, it is important that you stop, catch your breath, and check for any injuries sustained by yourself or any passengers.
Being involved in a car accident can be one of the most alarming and frightening experiences a person can go through. Immediately after an accident occurs, everything can feel like a blur. But it is essential that you take a moment to gather yourself and make sure that you and your passengers are okay.
If anyone has sustained any severe or life-threatening injuries, make sure that you call 911 immediately to get immediate medical attention.
Step 2: Get Yourself to a Safe Place
Accidents frequently occur on busy streets and highways. If you are involved in an accident and you are physically able, you should take steps to move yourself and your vehicle out of harm’s way. Failure to do so could result in additional collisions.
When it is safe to do so, move your vehicle to the side of the road. It is also a good idea to turn on your hazards and/or place pop-up signs, if you have any, near the accident to warn other drivers.
Step 3: Call the Police
After you have checked for injuries and made sure to move to a safer area, you should call the police. Not only is this recommended, but it may also be a requirement under the law.
Texas law requires that you report an accident to the authorities if any of the following occur:
- Death, or
- Property damage to a vehicle such that you can’t use it normally or safely.
Even if you are unsure whether any injuries or damages exist, it can still be a good idea to call 911 after your accident. When the authorities arrive, they will prepare a formal accident report, which you can use as evidence for your case moving forward. Additionally, they can help direct traffic and ensure that you are safe as you navigate the aftermath of your accident.
Step 4: Gather Evidence and Information at the Scene of the Accident
As discussed above, if you do call the authorities after your accident, they will prepare an accident report that you can use as evidence moving forward. However, this is not the only source of evidence available. In fact, there are a number of things you can do to collect evidence and information at the scene on your own that may ultimately be beneficial to your case.
Examples of evidence and information you can collect at the scene include:
- Photos of the accident scene itself;
- Photos of any property damage or bodily injuries sustained;
- Contact information of any other parties involved in the accident; and
- Statements from any eye-witnesses to the accident.
Depending on the extent and severity of your injuries and property damage, you may need to bring a legal claim to seek recovery. All of this information can help you to prove fault, the existence of any damages, and other crucial facts that you may need to support your claim.
The more evidence and information you have to support your claim, the better chance you will have of receiving the compensation you need to work toward your recovery.
Step 5: Seek Medical Attention
Next, it is imperative that you seek medical attention as soon as practicable after your car accident. Seeking a medical diagnosis of any injuries is essential to make sure you are on the path to recovery.
It is also important to note that obtaining a professional opinion regarding your injuries is often necessary to help prove the existence of your claimed injuries. This will become important in the future as you negotiate a settlement payment or pursue a legal claim. Having a diagnosis by a medical professional is a great way to help prove what injuries exist and what damages you may be entitled to.
You might be wary of seeking medical attention due to the potential cost associated with doing so. However, medical costs arising out of a car accident can often be recovered. Examples of compensation you may be entitled to receive related to medical care include:
- Ambulance expenses,
- Hospital and emergency room charges,
- Costs for physical therapy or rehabilitation,
- Chiropractic treatment, and
- Diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans.
Even if you don’t notice any physical injuries immediately after your accident, it is still important to get an opinion from a medical professional. In some cases, car accident victims may have injuries that are not visible to the naked eye. Thus, it is always best to visit a licensed professional to get a definitive answer on the existence and extent of your injuries.
After you seek initial medical assistance, continue to monitor how you feel in the coming days, weeks, and months. If you notice any significant changes, take note and follow up with your doctor.
Step 6: Protect Your Rights and Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Lastly, make sure to take action to protect your rights moving forward. As stressful and emotional as a car accident can be, the process unfortunately doesn’t end there. After your accident is when much of the hard work will begin.
While this can be a stressful and time-consuming process, you do not have to go through it alone. Consider contacting a Dallas car accident lawyer to help you protect your rights and pursue any claims you may have. Ways in which a car accident lawyer can be an asset to your case include:
- Collecting evidence,
- Negotiating with opposing parties and insurers,
- Identifying and assessing available damages,
- Filing your claims in court, and
- Advocating on your behalf in court, if necessary.
An experienced lawyer will have knowledge of the law and resources available to help you get the compensation you deserve.