After a Car Accident: Steps to Take
Last Thursday, early in the morning, as I was on the way to the gym, I came upon two cars sitting in the middle of a major boulevard in Raleigh. It took me a moment to realize that the two cars had been involved in a car accident. I pulled my vehicle over and got out of the car to see what I could do to help. I asked if anyone had called 911. No one had and I immediately called. As I was speaking to the 911 operators another bystander called me over to direct traffic. The driver of one of the vehicles was lying in the road injured. We needed to make sure he was safe. As I stood diverting vehicles from the accident victim, the police, fire department and EMS responded to the scene. The police shut the road down and began questioning all the witnesses, while the fire department cleared the scene; all while EMS were tending to the victims. I stayed for about 20 minutes to offer assistance and answer any questions.
What struck me the most about the accident was how frightening and chaotic the accident scene was and how the men who were injured in the vehicle that was hit, must have been feeling. How these men, who had suffered significant injuries will have to put all the pieces back together and figure out how they will replace their vehicle, pay for their medical treatment and bills while they miss time out of work while recovering from their injuries.
What You Should Do If You’re in A Car Accident
The most important thing to do is seek medical attention for anyone injured and stay at the scene in a safe location while contacting the police.
There are several steps you can take at the scene that can help to establish fault.
- Document the Accident and Damages
Take photographs of the auto accident scene, vehicle damage and any other important information that may be relevant to how the accident occurred.
- Exchange Information
Obtain the insurance information of any drivers involved and provide yours. Typically, the officer investigating the car accident will provide you with a driver exchange form listing all the relevant information; name, address, insurance information, etc.
- Seek Medical Treatment
If you feel any kind of discomfort it is extremely important that you seek medical attention within the first 24 hours and before filing an insurance claim.
- Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
Obtain and review a copy of the police accident report and ensure it is an accurate description of the auto accident. If the police report is not ready, you can still file a claim by contacting your insurance company and the at fault driver’s insurance company to begin the claim process.
- Consider Contacting an Auto Accident Attorney
Prior to making the insurance claim, you may want to consider contacting an auto accident attorney for a free consultation to discuss the accident and what information you should or should not be providing to the other driver’s insurer. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to seek the consult of an attorney. Whether you decide to hire a lawyer or not, undergoing a fee consultation with a personal injury attorney is invaluable. It will provide you with information and guidance about the automobile claim process that is unique to your set of facts. A free case consult will not cost you anything but not doing so may ultimately be costly in terms of how much money you recover for your injuries. You may be required to provide a recorded statement and having an attorney to protect your interests is invaluable.
- Make an Insurance Claim
Contact your own and the at fault driver’s insurance company and inform them you have been involved in a car accident. If you have a copy of the accident report and feel that it is an accurate description of how the accident occurred, you can email or fax it to the insurance companies in order to ensure that the claim process moves along as quickly as possible. If there is any question as to what happened or who is at fault it is extremely important to contact a lawyer in order to ensure that a proper inspection can be performed of the vehicle damage and that you have the proper guidance with regard to any conversation you have with an insurance adjuster. It is also advisable that you do not provide a recorded statement until you have had the opportunity to speak with an attorney.
- Keep a Journal
If you sustained injuries in the car accident keep a journal of how the injuries have affected your life. If you cannot work, you must have a note from a doctor taking you out of work. If you have lacerations or bruising, take photographs daily to show the progression of the injuries. Keep any receipts for any injury related items you purchase. Do not consider resolving your bodily injury claim until you are finished with your treatment.
In North Carolina you have three years from the date of the auto accident to file a lawsuit for any injuries you sustained. You do not have to do anything about your bodily injury claim until you are fully recovered from your injury or your treatment is stabilized.
Mullen Law, P.A. works on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only receive an attorney fee if you settle your claim or are awarded a judgement by a jury. Eileen Mullen has 21 years of experience as an auto accident attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina and is available for a free claim consultation.