Anyone who has been in a car wreck knows how scary those moments after are and how frustrating the hours, days, and weeks thereafter can be. In the first moments following a car wreck, you are trying to piece together what just happened as you make sure everyone is okay. It can be a confusing time, but the actions you'll want to take next do not need to be.
Here are the 5 steps to take in the hours, days, and weeks following a car wreck:
1. Gather Information and Evidence.
In the first moments after a wreck, you are going to need to do your best to gather all of the information and evidence you can to help with your claim later on. This includes identifying information of those involved and any witnesses, clear information on where the collision was and how it happened, insurance information from all involved, photos, and documentation of your injuries.
Call the police so they can help document what happened. The police report can be an important tool later as you pursue your claim against the parties at fault for causing the wreck. If it is safe to do so, exchange information with the other driver, including insurance and driver's license numbers. Take photos of their license plate number, driver's license, and of the scene - especially any evidence you find at the scene. Photograph any damage to your car and any visible injuries to you, including bruises and scratches. If there are any witnesses around, ask for their contact information.
2. Get Medical Attention.
It’s important that you get medical treatment right away for any pain or injuries that you notice. This can be at the scene if an ambulance has been called, at the emergency room, or even with your own doctor in the days following the wreck. Immediate medical treatment helps establish that your pain and injuries were caused by the wreck. Adrenaline from the wreck can mask pain, so if you don’t feel anything right away but wake up sore the next day, go see a doctor. Injuries don’t always show up right away and it’s important to get them treated.
3. Consider If You'll Need an Attorney.
Some car wrecks are straightforward and you’ll be able to resolve everything by yourself. Others—like those involving drunk drivers or commercial vehicles—can involve a lot of evidence, multiple parties, and many insurance companies fighting to not be blamed. In those cases, having an attorney on your side will help make sure you get the closure and care you need and deserve.
4. Report the Wreck to Insurance.
If you hire an attorney, they will be the ones to step in and take care of this part. Otherwise, you’ll want to report the wreck to your insurance company, the insurance company of the other driver, and start a claim for your property damage and injuries. If the other driver's insurance company asks you to go on record during any of your conversations, you are always within your rights to say no. Don’t give a recorded statement until you’ve read our article on recorded statements and understand your rights.
5. Don't Sign Anything Until You're Sure All Damages are Realized.
Insurance companies are eager to send you a check and have you release your claim for as little as possible and as quickly as possible. They want you to accept the settlement they offer because it usually means they can pay you less. Do not settle your claim until you know the full extent of your injuries. We’ve seen too many clients release their claim only to have pain or an injury show up or get worse. Don’t release your claim until you are cleared by a doctor, because once you do, you may never have the chance to collect more. You can always talk to an attorney before signing anything.
Where Do You Go From Here?
You’ve made an important choice by completing these steps. You’re taking control of the situation and doing all you can to resolve what happened to you so you can get back to life before your wreck. If you have any questions, please reach out to us. Our team has helped many clients navigate life after a car wreck and we are here for you.
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