Last Updated on August 2, 2023 by John Robinson
The fact that you are a safe driver may not be enough to protect you against being injured in an accident. Even safe drivers cannot protect themselves from the negligence of other motorists.
Although you cannot account for risky behavior of other drivers, you can protect your right to recover compensation when you are injured in a crash by knowing what to do after a car accident. If you are injured in a car accident, here are steps to follow to protect your rights until you have the opportunity to speak with a personal injury attorney about pursuing a claim for damages.
Remain in your car and check for injuries
Avoid the temptation to immediately get out of your car, which may only aggravate injuries that you sustained in the crash. Instead, remain calm and check yourself for injuries.
If you are injured, take a moment to determine how badly you are hurt. When in doubt, it is better to remain in the car, assuming it is safe to do so, and await the arrival of the police and emergency medical personnel.
If you exit the car, get out of the road where you could be hit by other vehicles. Instead, move to a sidewalk or to the shoulder of the road away from the flow of traffic.
Call 911 to report the accident and your injuries
Call 911 to report the location of the accident. Give the dispatcher a brief description of the extent of your injuries and request emergency medical assistance.
While awaiting the arrival of the police, do not discuss the accident or your injuries with anyone. Collisions are sudden, violent and disturbing events that can leave you shaken and disoriented. Chances are that you probably do not know what caused the crash or the true nature of your injuries as you stand on the side of the road waiting for police and fire crews to arrive, so do not make statements that could be inaccurate and used against you later by the lawyer or insurance company for the other driver.
The police will gather information about the accident and include it in their report, which will be available to your personal injury attorney. The report will include:
- Names and contact information of all drivers.
- Names and contact information of witnesses.
- A sketch or diagram of the position of the vehicles.
- Names and contact information for all police, fire and ambulance departments responding to the scene.
- Statements from drivers and witnesses.
If police ask you for a statement, keep it brief and factual. Do not guess or make assumptions about what happened or about your injuries.
Get medical treatment as soon as possible
Emergency medical personnel will examine you at the scene to determine the nature and extent of the injuries that you suffered in the crash and may take you by ambulance to the nearest hospital for further examination and treatment. Do not refuse or delay medical treatment for your injuries based on how you feel immediately after an accident.
Symptoms for some serious, life-threatening injuries may take hours to develop. For example, symptoms of a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury may not develop for hours or even days after an accident.
Regardless of whether or not you go to the hospital by ambulance or schedule an appointment with your family physician, you need to have your injuries examined and evaluated as soon after the accident as possible. The physical examination results in creation of a record of the injuries to avoid a later claim by the negligent driver’s insurance company that they were not caused by the crash.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney
Retain the services of a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to handle all communications with insurance adjusters, investigators and lawyers representing the interests of the driver whose fault caused you to be injured. Your attorney will immediately begin the process of gathering the evidence needed to build a strong claim for damages against all drivers and other parties responsible for causing the crash.
An experienced accident attorney is a trusted source for legal advice and guidance about all matters related to the accident and its aftermath. For example, when injuries cause you to miss time from work, an attorney can help you find financial relief through a lawsuit loan while awaiting settlement of your case.
The fact that you took the time to learn the basic guidelines to be a safe driver may not be enough to keep you from having an accident. When an accident happens, following the few, simple steps outlined in this article will preserve your right to recover compensation from the driver who was at fault.