Auto accidents can be incredibly stressful, overwhelming, and potentially devastating. In the direct aftermath of an auto accident, it is common for people not to feel unmoored and not know what to do next.
There are several things that every person should know about what to do directly after a car crash.
Safety First. The number one most important thing in the direct aftermath of an accident is your physical wellbeing. If possible, make sure to get all vehicles involved—or at least all people involved—out of the road and away from oncoming cars or other potential sources of danger.
Contact the police and EMS. If you have just been in a car accident, you are going to want to call 911 and ask for the police (as well as EMS, if anyone is injured). It might not seem necessary to have the police present, but police reports often play a crucial role in auto accident personal injury cases. When the police arrive, cooperate with them and give them a clear, intelligible statement.
In some jurisdictions, the police may not respond to an accident call if there are no serious injuries. If that is the case, then you should make sure to file an accident report with your local police station and/or Department of Motor Vehicles.
Do not admit fault. Be very careful not to admit fault at any point immediately following the accident, whether or not you think you were at-fault. Do not even imply that you may have been at-fault to the other driver, the police officers/EMS workers. These statements can be taken out of context and used against you in a personal injury case, whether or not you were at-fault.
If you are physically able, document the scene. Though police reports are important, they are sometimes not as thorough as you may need them to be for personal injury purposes. If it is physically safe for you to get up and walk around, you should make a point to collect several pieces of information. These include:
1. Pictures and videos of all cars involved, as well as their respective positions and the general scene of the accident
2. The name, address, phone number, insurance information (including company name and policy number), driver’s license number, and license plate number of the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. Make sure to ask if the driver is the insurance-holder for the vehicle. If not, try to get the same information about the insurance-holder.
3. A description of each car, including make, model, and color.
4. The names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident (if applicable)
5. The location of any visible or potential CCTV cameras that may hold useful footage.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible—and follow all treatment instructions. Often, people who are injured in auto accidents do not realize how badly they have been hurt. The adrenaline and shock of a car crash can dull pain and make it difficult to feel the pain and mobility issues caused by your injury right away. If you have been injured in any way—even if you think your injury is small—you should absolutely seek medical care as soon as possible, ideally within 24-48 hours of the accident. If you do not go to the ER by ambulance with EMS, you should go to the ER or an urgent care facility on your own, or make an appointment as soon as possible with your primary care doctor. If the doctor refers you to another specialist, asks you to come in for a follow-up appointment, or prescribes any further treatment, you should absolutely make sure to follow their instructions as closely as possible.
Seeking medical care right away is important for health reasons: you could have internal bleeding, or an injury that could worsen if not treated immediately, and it’s important to get yourself the medical care that you need.
It is also important for your personal injury case. If you do not seek medical treatment for your injury until, say, it “really” starts to hurt (which in some cases could be weeks or even months after an accident), insurance companies can claim that the injury wasn’t actually that bad, or that it was caused by something else after the accident. The same is true for any failure to follow your doctor’s advice, comply with treatment, and/or attend follow-up appointments.
The next step—and one of the most important steps for anyone who has experienced a personal injury in a car accident—is to contact an experienced, knowledgeable personal injury attorney. In Oakland County, Michigan, Matthew Bedikian is the personal injury attorney to call. Attorney Bedikian specializes in auto accident personal injury, and will go above and beyond to ensure that his clients receive the rightful settlements that they deserve. Don’t wait: call Attorney Matthew Bedikian and the Michigan Advocacy Center at (248) 266-7600 for a free consultation on your case today.