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What to do if you are in a car accident

Posted at 2:50 PM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 16:50:33-04

Attorney Craig Swapp shares the steps that you need to take if you are involved in a car accident.

Step 1: Assess if anyone has injuries
Immediately after a car accident, you will probably be in shock. This is a normal human reaction whenever there is a traumatic event.

If you were wondering what to do after a car accident, the first thing is to make sure that you, everyone else in the car, and the driver and passengers of the other vehicle are all physically okay. Depending on the level of impact, you, the other driver, or the passengers could be injured and in need of immediate medical attention.

Step 2: Immediately Contact The Proper Authorities
The next thing to do after you have been in a car accident is to dial 911 and get in touch with the police. The 911 dispatcher will send an ambulance if anyone needs medical attention. The dispatcher will also send the police to come and investigate the causes of the car accident and to file an accident report.
Ensuring that the proper authorities are on hand will help you in the long term, especially if there`s a personal injury lawsuit down the road. Once the police are on the scene, they will make a full police report of all that they observe, any witness testimony, and any other circumstances surrounding the accident. This document can help you in a court case, especially when determining the comparative negligence of the other driver.

Step 3: Document the Accident
Once you have been checked out by medical personnel and spoken with the police, if you are physically able, you or a passenger should document everything surrounding the car accident and the circumstances under which it occurred. There are three specific things you should do:
• Take Pictures or Video - Take photographs or video of the car crash. This will help identify the angles the cars collided at, the speed at which they were traveling, road conditions, weather conditions, and the state of the vehicle itself. You will also want to take photographs of any other important details, such as traffic lights, sidewalks, any road work, and any warning or hazard signs in the area.
• Record Your Account - Take notes or record your own account on your phone. Stories change in our own minds over time, and you will want to record all the details as they happened. The best time to record this is at the scene as soon as you are able.
• Find Witnesses - If there are people who witnessed the car accident, you should get their names and contact information so we can reach them at a later date. Their testimony could be instrumental to proving your case.

Step 4: With Any Injury, Get Checked By a Medical Professional After the Accident
Serious injuries require an immediate trip to an emergency room at a local hospital; however many accident injuries manifest themselves a day or two after an accident. If that happens, it is always smart to see your primary care physician or an insta-care immediately. This allows you and your injuries to be evaluated/documented and to receive immediate and future treatment.

Step 5: Report Your Accident to Your Insurance Company
You are obligated to inform your insurance company of the accident, who will document what happened and begin the claims process. If you have retained an attorney to help you with your case, it is always a good idea to have him/her assist with this call. The other driver`s insurance company also may contact you for a statement. It is always highly recommended that you have your attorney assist you with this this call to ensure that your claim is not damaged by any inadvertent misstatements or missteps.

Step 6: Retain an Attorney If You and/or Your Passengers are Injured
Accidents are expensive. Understandably, you`re going to want to make sure you`re compensated fairly. From possible medical bills to lost income, you need a full and fair settlement from the insurance company. It`s stressful trying to figure out how the money is all going to work; and how you are going to cover the inevitable expenses. Financially, you have to consider all of that while still supporting yourself and your family. People who have been in an accident need answers to their financial questions.
The earlier a good personal injury attorney is involved, the better likelihood of a full and fair settlement as the attorney builds your case from day one. The worst decision an accident victim can make is to wait for an insurance 'offer' and then ask an attorney to become involved after they have received a low-ball offer from the insurance company.
There are dozens of other small reasons that can sink your case. That`s why a good personal injury attorney, such as those at Craig Swapp & Associates, can monitor your case and medical recovery to ensure a stronger likelihood of a full and fair settlement.
The involvement of a personal injury attorney levels the playing field against the trickery and traps set by the insurance company. He/she understands how state law (and maybe even Federal law) applies to your case. Plus, an attorney and his/her staff can take care of the day-to-day headaches and complexities of dealing with the insurance companies and their adjustors. If an insurance company refuses to accept liability for its at-fault driver, a good personal injury law firm should be willing to litigate your case through a mediation, arbitration, or (if necessary) a trial.

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