If you are involved in an accident, deciding what to do next can be very overwhelming, especially as you are flooded with adrenaline after the initial excitement and panic of a car crash.
The key is to try to remain as calm as possible, and do not feel as if you need to solve every single problem on your own, all at once. You need to take this one step at a time, and make sure that your health and the health of your passengers is the top priority.
Another priority is to call a car accident attorney as soon as you are able to. Having a lawyer represent you from day one is one of the most effective ways to ensure that each step is taken with care and legal know-how.
Check Your Injuries
Before anything else, check in with yourself and get an idea of the extent of your own injuries. If you are extremely hurt, you will not be doing anyone a favor by trying to take charge of the situation; in fact, you will be doing more damage to yourself, complicating your recovery, and possibly giving the insurance company a reason to point to about why they do not owe you for the full extent of your injuries.
Check On Your Passengers
Once you have figured out the extent of your own injuries, check in with your passengers. This is especially important if you have any children, elderly people, or other vulnerable persons that are in your vehicle because you will need to act as their advocate to ensure that they get the emergency care they need.
Call 911 as soon as possible, and inform the operator about any information about the accident that you can provide, including your location, the vehicles involved, the injuries that you are aware of, and any other safety matters worth noting. The operator will be able to stay on the line with you as they dispatch the emergency responders, and help you make sure that you are doing the right things as you wait.
If you and your passengers are able to get out of your vehicle, make sure that it is safe to do so before opening the door. Assess the situation and determine if it makes sense to leave the vehicle to get to the side of the road, or if you should remain where you are until the police and fire department are able to help you get out of the car and to safety.
Seek Medical Attention
Whether your injuries are minor or major, it is important that you see a doctor for a number of reasons. Primarily, you need to see a doctor in order to make sure that you get the care you need. However, it is equally important to see a doctor so that you establish a record of your injuries.
Speak With the Police
Let the police know at the scene fo the accident what happened, from your perspective, and be sure to let them know if the other driver was engaging in any sort of behavior that caused the accident such as texting, or if you suspect that they are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
Taking pictures of the accident will help you to present a more comprehensive account of what happened when you are speaking with an attorney, police, or trying to job your member days or weeks after the incident.
Get Eyewitness Contact Information
Eyewitnesses are an important part of providing fault, so if you are able to get the contact information of people who witnessed the crash, make sure that you do. They may have seen the other driver making dangerous maneuvers before they entered your view and can help to strengthen your claims.
Call a Lawyer
Working with an attorney is one of the most important and beneficial things that you can do after an accident. Insurance companies work to pay as little as they can for any given claim, and while you are focusing on trying to recover from your injuries they will take advantage of your stress and attempt to get you to accept a lower settlement than you deserve. Your lawyer will fight for you.
File an Accident Claim
Once you are partnered with an attorney, they will be able to file a claim with you and make sure that you take all of the appropriate steps to maximize the chances that you get the settlement you deserve. Insurance companies prefer to deal directly with the victim since they have much less understanding of these processes and are generally easier to convince to accept a low settlement.