Top 5 Tips: What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
A car crash can be one of the most traumatic experiences in a person’s life. While the seatbelts and airbags help prevent physical harm, the emotional and mental shock of being in a crash can often create additional harm and difficulties for all involved.
Here are the top 5 things that our attorneys at Smiley Law Firm advise to help you handle such an unexpected and jarring situation.
1. Stay Calm
Though this is easier said than done – never panic!
Panic is not your friend in this sort of situation. As hard as it may seem, try to stay as calm and collected as possible. Call the police and/or ambulance. If the accident is minor, try to move the vehicles to a safe nearby location.
One of the most important things you can do is to call the police and have them write up a police report. If the police report is not recorded for the accident, then it is your word against the other person. People often change their story once a few days have passed.
The police report will be your best proof when trying to make a claim with the insurance company.
Staying calm is essential to making sure you are ok and your claim is documented.
2. Stay There
Even if you’re not at fault, do not drive away from the accident scene. No matter how minor the damage, it is important to not leave your location until the authorities arrive and clear you to do so.
Even if there are no serious injuries, we do not recommend coming to private agreements with the other party. Calling the police is always your safest bet as the police report may help you in the future.
In our experience, many claims have been lost or we have decided not to take a claim because our potential client has fled the scene of the accident. Staying at the scene until the police arrive is the best option unless you have serious injuries and need an ambulance.
Here is a good post from the Oregon Bar on what to do at the scene of an automobile accident.
3. Stay Honest
When the police do arrive, tell them the truth to the best of your ability and memory. Try to recount the events as they occurred. Even with a police report, you should still attempt to exchange information with the other party.
Additionally, make sure to report the accident to your insurance company as quickly as possible. Be honest with them as well, as lying can lead to serious ramifications.
Human memory is not as reliable as once believed. There is science regarding the unreliability of human memory. So even if you think you are being honest, you may not be remembering the accident correctly when you are days or months removed. Also, if you have head trauma, your memory may be more flawed and you do not even know it.
Photos, videos, and the police report are the best evidence of the accident. Make sure, to tell the truth, and preserve your evidence.
4. Stay Organized
Take photos of the vehicles after the accident. Make sure to take shots from various angles. It is also helpful to take pictures of your car on a regular basis. These pictures can serve as the “before” shots to help offer a comparison of damage.
Again, photos, videos, and voice recordings are the best evidence. There can never be enough photo and video evidence. I have personally been to the scene of many accidents and the need to take many photos and videos is real. When looking back months later it seems like there is never enough or just the right angle to see what you need.
Also, keep a file of any medical visits or therapy sessions you have had as a result of the accident. This information may prove helpful in the future.
5. Stay Smart
Unfortunately, accidents do occur. Though we are often helpless to prevent them, we are not completely helpless in the aftermath. After experiencing an accident you should take precautions to protect yourself.
One of the smartest things a person can do when they are harmed by the actions of another is to get an attorney. Seek legal advice so that you can know your rights and maximize your claim.
One of the first things to do after the “smoke clears” is calling your insurance company. However, be careful because you will want to speak to an attorney first. I recommend clients do the following in this order after an accident:
- Call the police and make a formal police report; (if you are seriously injured call an ambulance)
- Go to the doctor and seek out medical advice for your injuries;
- Contact an attorney to understand your legal rights and work on maximizing your claim;
- Either you or your attorney should contact the insurance company to assert your claim for both property damage and bodily injury.
You should also consider speaking with an attorney soon after an accident. Even just a consultation with an attorney can help preserve legal claims and file paperwork properly.
The right legal team can make all the difference on the difficult road ahead. With years of experience, the attorneys at Smiley Law can help you get the recovery you desire and/or protect your rights. Call us today for all your car wreck questions.
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