The first few minutes after an auto accident can be rather overwhelming and flummoxing for the victim.
The immediate actions and words of the victim of personal injuries due to a car accident can go a long way in affecting the result of his lawsuit and compensation.
There are certain important steps you must take in order to protect your interests and help your case.
It is crucial that you do not get carried away or become emotional about the accident, especially if there are injuries. Try your best to remain calm, vigilant and in control of your actions.
Gathering as much evidence as you can quickly should be the first thing on your mind. Do not wait too long as sometimes key evidence can be lost or washed away.
In this post, we look at a few more things that the victim should and should not do to keep the odds in his favor.
Put your phone’s camera to good use and take pictures of the accident scene, and lots of them. And not just from a single angle. Click snaps from various angles and distances of all the vehicles involved in the accident (along with their number plates), the road, the skid marks and the debris on the road.
If there are street signs (such as stop, no turning, etc.) which are applicable to the vehicles on the road, take a picture of those as well.
Additionally, take pictures the injuries suffered by you – bruises, scratches, cuts and scrapes or abrasions. Take pictures of them every single day until they disappear.
Get Contact Details of Witnesses
Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses present at the scene of the accident. Bear in mind, if there were passengers in your car at the time of the accident, they cannot be considered witnesses.
Call the Police
Do call the police to file a report. Once they arrive at the accident spot, they will document the event and collect facts for legal purposes. If you do not call the police soon enough, it is going to be your word against that of the other person’s and you may not be able to prove your case.
Be polite with the police officer(s) and narrate the entire incident to him accurately. Do not exaggerate the story or admit fault. Tell him all about the symptoms of your injury and how you’re feeling. Offer complete cooperation to the police authorities and be polite throughout the interaction.
See a Doctor Immediately
From the insurance point of view, it is best to go to your doctor as soon as you can. The timely documentation and treatment of your injuries is important. If you do not see a doctor within 14 days of the accident, you may lose out on certain insurance benefits.
Do make sure that you visit a doctor who specializes in treating people who have been victims of car accidents. You could contact a chiropractor, an orthopedist, a neurologist, and a pain management specialist.
And of course, if your injuries are serious in nature, do not hesitate in going to the emergency room.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Do report the accident to your insurance company. Get them a copy of the accident report for them and check its accuracy. If found inaccurate, call the investigating officer and bring it to his notice. You have the right to ask him to correct the report. If you have collision cover, get your insurance company to appraise and repair your vehicle at the earliest.
It is also advised to maintain a daily diary of the aftershock of the accident. Make a mention of all that transpired in the accident and the consequent medical tests. Keep updating it with details of the progress and problems faced by you in your everyday life due to your injuries.
Hire an Attorney
Make it a point to hire an attorney who specializes in dealing with personal injury cases as he will be able you help you out in a car accident case. A good car accident lawyer in Chicago should be able to guide you through the maze of dealing with the legal procedures involved and protect your rights. A qualified and experienced attorney could be your best ally in this tough time.
Panic and Be Hasty
Avoid panicking and try to be calm and composed. Call for help or support if your injuries are grave. Don’t get scared or be hasty and leave the scene of the accident.
Discuss the Details of the Accident with Anyone
Do not discuss the accident or its events with anyone except the police officer. Don’t blame anyone for the accident, including yourself. Refrain from speaking to anybody from the at-fault party’s insurance company before you speak to your lawyer. Guard against issuing any statements to anyone as they can be used against you.
Consider Settling Your Case
Do not ever consider settling your case until all your symptoms have vanished and you have gone back to living your life normally. If you have a concussion, don’t even think about settling for at least 6 months.
Delay Contacting Your Lawyer
Do not wait for long before contacting your lawyer. The longer you wait to get sound legal guidance, the harder it may become for you to prove your case in the future.
Sign Any Insurance Papers
Refrain from signing any papers issued to you by insurance companies and/or agree to settle your case until you speak to your lawyer.
Handling a car accident case by yourself can get extremely tricky. It is best to contact an attorney who has experience in dealing with personal injury cases at the earliest. He can save you a lot of grief when it comes to claiming the compensation you deserve. Even if you or anyone you know hasn’t been in an accident, do make a note of the above helpful tips for quick reference.