Getting involved in an auto accident is a frightening and confusing experience. Most people don't take the time to learn the best practices to follow after such an event and, as a result, they make crucial mistakes that negatively impact them. However, this overview can help you learn what steps to take after an accident, so you'll be less inclined to panic and make those errors. Taking these steps may help you recover more efficiently from both a medical and financial perspective.

Document the Scene

The moments immediately following the accident are especially important and you should proceed as though the incident will result in a personal injury lawsuit. That means gathering the names and contact information from everyone at the scene, whether they are other drivers, passengers, or witnesses. Additionally, you should take the opportunity to gather information from other drivers about their insurance coverages. It will be necessary to obtain this information if you're going to file a claim, so be sure to obtain policy numbers, phone numbers, and the names of the insurance companies.
Depending on your injuries, you may not be able to move around, but, if you can walk, you should use the camera on your phone to document the scene. While a photo of the general scene may be helpful, it's also important to take pictures of any property damages that resulted from the accident. This means taking close-up pictures of the damages done to your vehicle and the other driver's car. Additionally, photos should be taken of other damaged property, such as guardrails, telephone poles, or residential property in the area.

Once police arrive, it will be important to make sure you provide a statement about the accident. Even if the investigating officer insists it's not necessary, it is important to get your version of the accident included in the report. It's also a good idea to request a copy of that police report for your own records. This may give you the personal injury help you need to successfully file your claim. This will also save your attorney time and effort in getting a copy of the report from the authorities.

Obtain a Medical Evaluation

Your next step in the process is to obtain a medical evaluation and, if necessary, treatment for any injuries you suffered in the accident. You may not feel injured or your injuries may not feel severe, but it's vital to obtain a medical evaluation anyway. By refusing or postponing your examination, you could sabotage your personal injury claims and you may allow any hidden injuries to worsen.

First, postponing a medical evaluation will reflect badly on your personal injury claim. It's not uncommon for people to postpone medical treatment for the purpose of intentionally allowing their injuries to worsen. This is done to maximize how much can be claimed in a personal injury case, but we now have laws guarding against this tactic. It's called contributory negligence and, if you're suspected of committing this type of fraud, the amount you can claim may be significantly reduced. In some cases, a civil court judge may rule that you have forfeited your right to file a claim altogether.

It's also better for your own self-interests to obtain a medical evaluation. It's not uncommon for a slight headache or a seemingly insignificant muscle spasm to be the only signs of more serious injuries. Traumatic head injuries, back and spine trauma, or neck injuries can all take days or weeks to produce more serious symptoms. By undergoing a medical evaluation early, you can receive treatment before these conditions significantly impair your ability to function. 

Consult a Personal Accident Attorney

After you have been in a car accident, you will need the personal injury help that only an experienced lawyer will provide. Very soon after the accident, an insurance adjuster will contact you. He will try to interview you and request to record that interview for accuracy. You should decline the opportunity to be interviewed and refuse to allow yourself to be recorded, because the insurance company will try to use your statements against you. They may take your statements out of context to suggest your injuries aren't as serious as you claim or to try to prove that you were at fault in causing the accident.

To avoid this type of manipulation, it's important to consult an attorney and arrange for your attorney to be present during this type of interview. Your personal accident attorney will ensure you're treated fairly and that the insurance adjuster doesn't take advantage of you. An attorney will know what tactics insurance representatives use, so he will know how to protect you.

Additionally, the insurance company may offer you a quick cash settlement for your injuries. Unfortunately, this is usually insufficient to cover your total damages, which may include the need for long-term medical treatment, physical therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damages. Your attorney will negotiate a fairer settlement for you, but he can't do that if you accept this initial offer.

Follow the Advice of Your Lawyer

When you do hire an attorney, he will likely instruct you on the things you can do to help your case. If you don't listen to this advice from the personal injury lawyers working on your case, the outcome of your claim may be negatively affected. This advice may include keeping the facts of your case to yourself. Other than your lawyer, you should not discuss your case with anyone and it may be wise not to mention that there is an open claim at all. You never know who will report back to the insurance company or who will be willing to make statements against you, so it's best not to discuss the case.

Additionally, it may be a good idea to stay away from your social media accounts. Similar to any verbal statements you make publicly, the photos, comments, or statements you post on social media sites are fair game to be used against you. The insurance company's lawyers will be looking for ways to discredit you and social media content can provide a good source of ammunition.

Your lawyers may also advise you to stay away from public events and gatherings. This can include parades, weddings, amusement parks, and any other recreational events, where you can be seen having a good time. The insurance company may present photos of you at these events and suggest you're not really injured, if you can be seen smiling and enjoying yourself. They will expect you to be at home, suffering in your bed, and conforming to that idea may be the best way to win your case.

When an accident results in a personal injury claim, it's important to take the appropriate steps to protect your rights. From how you respond at the scene of the accident to hiring the personal injury lawyers who will handle your case, everything you do will impact the outcome of your claim. These steps should be used as guidelines to help you react in ways that will keep you from forfeiting your rights to the damages you deserve.


Published by Samantha Brown