What Do You Do After An Auto Accident?
When you are injured in a car or trucking accident, the steps you take immediately after the accident will have a significant impact on your ability to file a claim and what amounts you may be able to recover. Mistakes can be critical – especially when insurance companies are often looking for ways to deny your claim or minimize the value of your settlement. With an attorney at your side, you can avoid these costly mistakes and protect your right to compensation.
Step 1: Call 911
After an accident, call 911. This will alert emergency medical response teams to your location so that those injured in the accident can receive immediate medical treatment. Notifying the police of the accident will also enable you to document and obtain important accident information, which will be included in the accident report prepared by the investigation officer. This accident report is also a critical piece of evidence when establishing the liability and negligence of the “at-fault” driver.
Step 2: Document General Accident Information
Immediately after an accident, if you are able, document and gather general accident information, such as:
- Other driver’s license number
- Vehicle license plate numbers
- Other driver’s automobile insurance information
- Other driver’s address and contact information
- Time, date, and location of the accident
- Witnesses to the accident
This information will be important when filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Step 3: Document the Accident Scene and Your Injuries
If possible, take photos of the damage to your car, the other car, and the surrounding area. Taking pictures of the intersection, the traffic lights, traffic control devices (such as stop signs and yield signs), skid marks, and other details will be helpful when establishing who was at fault. You should also document any details you remember, such as:
- How the accident happened
- Where the accident happened
- What happened just before the accident
- What happened immediately after the accident
- What did the other driver say or do before and after the accident
You should also take photos of your injuries. Photos depicting the nature of your injuries will help improve the value of your claim. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Step 4: Seek Medical Attention
Immediately after the accident, you should seek medical attention – even if you think you haven’t suffered an injury. The adrenaline from the accident may mask serious injuries, and sometimes, certain injuries may be asymptomatic (meaning they do not reveal themselves until later). You should visit a medical professional or an emergency room immediately. If you are injured, a diagnosis of your injury is necessary when trying to collect the money you deserve. If your doctor prescribes medicine, you should have those prescriptions filled promptly. You should follow your doctor’s advice regarding any follow-up treatment or referrals, including physical therapy. Failing to follow your doctor’s advice and attend appointments may signal to the insurance company that your injuries aren’t as bad as you claim they are.
Some of the most common injuries that occur after an auto accident include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Depression and anxiety
When visiting your doctor, you should disclose any pre-existing injuries or conditions. Your doctor will be able to establish exactly how the accident affected your existing injury or condition. Without your doctor’s medical diagnosis and opinions, the insurance company may claim that your injury was simply a pre-existing condition and not one that was aggravated or caused by the accident.
Step 5: Notify Your Insurance Company
Many injured drivers fail to notify their own insurance company because they believe they don’t have to or need to. Even if you are not to blame for the accident, you should contact your insurance company as soon as you are able. While the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company should pay for damages, you should still contact your own insurance company and report any property damage or injuries. Your own insurance company may be able to pay for the repairs to your car quickly, and then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Also, if the other driver makes a claim against you, your insurance company will be able to defend you against these claims. If the other driver is at fault but doesn’t carry enough insurance or any insurance at all, then you will need to tap into your own uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance to pay for medical bills and damage. This can’t be done without the proper notification.
But you should be careful what you tell your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company when you speak with them. It is best not to discuss fault, and you should decline to give them a recorded statement until you have spoken with an experienced injury attorney. Also, you should never sign anything without first speaking to a lawyer. Your lawyer can protect your rights during the claim and legal process and prevent insurance companies from taking advantage of you during this difficult time.
Step 6: Call a Personal Injury Attorney in Mississippi
As soon as you are able, contact a personal injury lawyer in Mississippi. Important evidence can be lost or destroyed if you don’t act quickly. Your attorney will be able to investigate all aspects of your case, seek to preserve and gather any evidence, not in your possession, and file the appropriate claims against the at-fault parties. Through detailed preparation, planning, and organization, your attorney can obtain maximum compensation for you after an accident. Your attorney can help you obtain money to pay for:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Long-term care costs
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional pain and suffering
Call Smith & Holder, PLLC today, or contact us online so that we can answer your questions. Discuss your case with our legal team of highly experienced attorneys. We will provide you with the excellent service that you deserve.