You're driving along the road and suddenly — BOOM — another vehicle slams into the side of your car after they ran a stop sign.
Your car is smashed, you feel pains throughout your body, and your heart is racing. Now what?
After a car accident, there are some key steps to take to make sure your rights are protected. It's important to know what to do and what questions may need answers by the other driver to make your insurance claim.
1. Stop and Assess the Extent of Injuries and Damage
- Never drive away from the scene of an accident — even a minor one. If possible, drive the vehicles involved to the shoulder or off the roadway. Make sure to pull completely off the road to avoid being hit by approaching vehicles. If you have flares or reflective emergency triangles, set them up to warn other cars, and activate you hazard lights.
2. Get Medical Attention
- If you suffered catastrophic or life-threatening injuries at the scene of an accident, you will be transported get medical treatment at a hospital immediately — If your injuries aren’t severe, you should seek transportation to an emergency room or hospital. Make sure to tell any medical providers (EMTs, doctors, nurses) that you were injured in an accident.
- If you aren't sure whether you have any injuries, it's best to go to a hospital or emergency room and have a physician examine you. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, your adrenaline is usually pumping so you might not realize you need medical attention. As our personal injury lawyers will tell you, "Better to be safe than sorry." Often times people involved in a crash don't sense anything wrong, but hours later (or even the next day) they begin to feel the full effects of the accident. The sooner you get medical treatment after a crash, the better.
3. Gather Facts and Evidence About Your Accident, But Don't Discuss the Details
- Get the Name, Address, and Phone Number of everyone involved in the accident, and any witnesses if possible, since witnesses don't usually stay near the accident scene very long.
- Exchange insurance information with the other driver(s).
- It's important that you don't make any statements about liability or fault at the scene. You should never discuss fault with the other party or parties involved. The details of how you feel or what you were doing are not their concern. If they ask if you're hurt and you aren't sure, you can simply reply, "I don't know."
- Take photos of the location of the vehicles on the roadway, the damage to the cars, license plates of the vehicles involved in the crash, and the location of any debris on the road.
4. Call the Police and Cooperate with Law Enforcement
When talking to police after a crash, provide as accurate of a description of the event as you can. If you are injured, tell the officer so that can be documented in the police report. If you aren't able to get the name of the other parties involved in the accident, you can ask a police officer for this information.
5. Contact an Attorney
If your injury is superficial and you do not need any medical attention at all, then you probably do not need an injury lawyer.
If your injuries required medical attention, and you believe your injuries were not your fault, then you should call an auto accident lawyer so they can determine if you have a case. The personal injury lawyers at Lowe Eklund Wakefield Co., LPA, offer no-cost case evaluations, and our attorneys will advise you on your legal options and how you can proceed with a claim to compensate you for your injuries.
It's always best to involve an attorney early in the claims process. Attorneys know how to preserve evidence from the scene of the accident, and gather your medical records and other information that is necessary to win a case. Additionally, each type of case has different statutes of limitations, so if you wait too long you, may be prohibited by law from even pursuing your case regardless who was at fault.
Contact our office today at 216-781-2600 for a free consultation to find out how we can help you after an auto accident that wasn’t your fault.