If you have been involved in a car accident, this is not the time to be complacent. It is understandable that you’re upset and want things to return to the way they were just before the crash, but it’s vital that you take some steps to protect your legal rights before they are jeopardized.
When another party acted carelessly or negligently and caused your injuries, you have the right to make a claim for damages. But this can become increasingly difficult as time passes or if you fail to take the proper actions in the wake of a crash.
Whether you have just been in a wreck and you are reading this article from your mobile phone at the accident scene or want to know what to do if something happens down the road, here are five steps to take to protect your rights just after a car accident:
1. Never leave the scene.
As a general rule, you should never leave the scene of an accident. In some cases, this could be treated as a hit-and-run, and you’ll face charges. The only time you are justified in leaving the scene of an accident is when you require emergency medical treatment. And even in cases like this, you should only leave in an ambulance and not with another bystander, family member, or friend.
2. Call the police.
Your safest bet is to call 911 immediately after an accident and request that the police come to the scene. If there are no injuries, you may have to wait a long time or the police might not come, but there will still be a record of the call. If the police do show up, getting a police report filed is the best way to have an official record of the accident, which is something generally used by insurance companies to determine fault.
3. Get medical treatment.
If anyone is injured in the accident, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even a minor fender bender can lead to serious and life-changing injuries. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better it will be for your case since you will have reliable documentation of your injuries.
4. Collect important information.
Even though the police will collect information at the scene of the accident, you should do this as well if you are physically able. In addition to taking pictures of the scene and damages with your phone, be sure to get the names and contact information of the other drivers, any witnesses, driver’s license and license plate numbers of vehicles involved, and insurance company information.
5. Call your insurance company.
You are required to report motor vehicle accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours. What you don’t have to do is sign any release forms, give a recorded statement, or make any statements regarding fault. Make sure that you report the accident as required, but don’t go any further until you speak with an attorney.
In the Days Just After an Accident
Even after you’ve taken the above steps, there is still plenty to deal with after a serious car wreck. The next vital move is to contact an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney for a free consultation. The right attorney will thoroughly review your circumstances and outline your legal options.
Once hired, they can perform an independent accident investigation and keep track of all the details involved in pursuing a claim against the responsible parties. They will also deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, which allows you to focus entirely on your physical and emotional recovery.
This is the time that you should pay the closest attention to the messages from your body and keep in close contact with your treating physician. Since not all serious injury symptoms show up immediately, it is important to stay vigilant and document anything out of the ordinary such as numbness, pain, and dizziness.
Schedule Your Free Consultation with a Qualified Car Accident Lawyer
Time is not on your side after a car crash. Evidence can slip away or be destroyed, and witnesses can disappear. There is also the chance that an unscrupulous insurance adjuster might attempt to deny your legitimate claim or offer a settlement for much less than your case is worth. At Mann & Potter, P.C., we fiercely protect the rights of car accident victims throughout the Birmingham area and will aggressively pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve from the parties responsible for your crash. Contact our office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.