Unfortunately, car accidents are a reality of life on American roads. No matter how careful a driver you are, there’s always the potential that you could be involved in a collision. Even if the accident is minor, it can still be a very traumatizing experience. If you’re involved in a car crash in Columbia, MO, emotions will certainly be running high. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to think clearly and take the appropriate actions. That’s why it’s important to know what to do (and what not to do) after a car accident. By taking the right steps, you can help ensure your safety and the safety of others, as well as protect your legal rights.
Immediately After the Accident
The first thing you should do after a car accident is stop your vehicle. Regardless of how minor the collision may seem, it’s important to stop and assess the situation. If you’re able, get out of your car and check on the other driver or drivers involved. If anyone appears to be seriously injured, call 911 so that emergency medical personnel can be dispatched to the scene. If you cannot get out of your car or don’t think it’s safe to do so, stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened and wait for help to arrive.
Once you’ve ensured that everyone involved is safe, the next step is to call the police. Even if the accident seems minor, it’s always a good idea to have a law enforcement officer come to the scene and create a report. A police report can be very helpful if you end up needing to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved in the accident. If there are any witnesses to the accident, get their contact information as well. They may be able to provide valuable testimony if you need to take legal action.
Document the Accident Scene
Once the police arrive, they will likely ask you to give a statement about what happened. It’s important to be truthful in your statement, but you should avoid giving any kind of admission of guilt. If you’re unsure what happened or who was at fault, it’s okay to tell the police that you’re not sure. Once the police have completed their report, be sure to get a copy for your records.
If you have a camera or smartphone with a camera, another thing you should do after a car accident is to make sure to document the scene. Take pictures of both vehicles involved in the accident and any visible damage. If there are any skid marks on the road, be sure to take pictures of those as well. If possible, taking photos of any injuries you or the other driver sustained in the accident is also a good idea. In addition to taking pictures, it can also be helpful to write down your recollection of what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind. Include as many details as you can remember, no matter how small they may seem.
Get Medical Treatment
If you were injured in the accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Even if your injuries seem minor, it’s always a good idea to be evaluated by a doctor. Some injuries, such as whiplash or a concussion, may not be immediately apparent. If you don’t get treatment right away, you could end up making your injuries worse.
Be sure to keep track of all the medical treatment you receive in the aftermath of the accident. This includes everything from doctor’s appointments to hospital stays to physical therapy. If you end up filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you will need this documentation.
If your injuries prevent you from working, be sure to keep track of all the income you’ve lost as a result. This includes not only your salary, but also any commissions, bonuses, or other forms of income you would have earned if you had not been injured.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Once you’ve taken care of your immediate needs, the next thing to do after an accident is to contact your insurance company. You should notify your insurer as soon as possible after the accident. If you wait too long, your claim could be denied. When you contact your insurance company, be sure to have all the relevant information on hand, including the names and contact information of the other drivers involved in the accident and any witnesses. You should also have a copy of the police report.
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, their insurance company should pay for the damages to your vehicle. If you were at fault, or if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured, you may need to file a claim with your insurance company.
Once you’ve filed a claim, your insurance company will assign an adjuster to investigate the accident. The adjuster will likely contact you to discuss the accident and ask for a statement. Again, it’s essential to be truthful in your statement, but avoid giving any kind of admission of guilt. You should also avoid discussing the accident with anyone from the other driver’s insurance company. The adjuster from the other insurance company may contact you and try to get you to give a statement. It’s important to remember that anything you say to the other insurance company could be used against you.
If the other driver’s insurance company offers you a settlement, you should not accept it without first consulting with an attorney. The insurance company is likely to lowball you, and the settlement may not be enough to cover all your damages.
Hire an Attorney
If you were injured in the car accident, or if the accident was complex, it is a good idea to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the insurance claim process and make sure you get the full amount of compensation you deserve.
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, your lawyer will also help you file a personal injury lawsuit, if necessary. They will handle your case’s legal aspects so you can focus on your recovery. If necessary, they’ll also represent you in court.
Contact the Law Offices of Chris Miller to Understand Your Rights After a Car Crash
If you have been in a car accident in Columbia and are not sure what to do, reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer at The Law Offices of Chris Miller. We have helped many people who have been at fault in car accidents and can help you understand your rights and navigate the legal process. We can answer your questions, assist with determining fault in the accident, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Contact our firm today for a free consultation, where you can discuss your unique situation with a dedicated attorney.