Car accidents are far too common. Chances are that everyone will be in at least one in their lifetime. And when a car accident happens, you need to know what to do so you can protect yourself and your family.
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries to people in the US. After a car accident, medical bills, missed work, and other costs can quickly pile up. If your car accident was caused by another person’s negligence, you should not be left to deal with all the damage. That’s why Arizona law allows people to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
If you are involved in a car accident, knowing what steps to follow to preserve evidence, protect your health, and ensure that you maintain your legal rights and options can make all the difference in your recovery. That is why we put together this checklist for what to do after you’re involved in a car accident.
Click on each section below to learn more.
1. Don’t Leave the Scene
You should never leave the scene of any type of accident. Doing so is against the law. Leaving the scene without stopping and reporting the accident will also ruin your chances of recovering compensation. Drivers who leave the scene after a car accident are usually the ones who caused the accident, which is why they are fleeing in the first place.
Instead, stop, pull over, or exit your vehicle, whichever is possible and safe. Now you need to assess the situation.
2. Check Yourself and Others for Injuries
The next step is to check yourself and those around you to see if anyone is visibly injured or in serious trouble. If someone appears to be injured, don’t move them. Moving an injured person can potentially cause further damage.
Anyone who can be moved out of the way should be. Those who are able to get out of the vehicle and move out of the way of traffic should do so. It is not uncommon for rubberneckers to cause side-of-the-road accidents while cars are stopped.
3. Call 911 Emergency Services
Next, you should call 911 immediately. Even if it doesn’t appear that anyone is seriously injured, you still need police to document the accident. It’s also possible that someone is injured without realizing it. That’s why paramedics come to motor vehicle accident scenes.
Other involved parties involved in the car accident may try to talk you out of contacting the police. Don’t fall for this mistake. No matter what anyone else says, you should definitely contact the police after a car accident. A police report is vital evidence for your injury case and creates an official record that the accident happened. Additionally, it documents who was involved and details the extent of damage that occurred.
When the police arrive, you should make sure that you:
- Get the police officer’s name and badge number
- Get a copy of the accident report or find out how you can get a copy
4. Don’t Admit Fault
Do not admit fault in any way, even if you believe the accident may have been partially your fault. Admitting fault for a car accident can damage any potential personal injury case. Insurance companies will definitely use an admission of guilt against you.
Sometimes people say things they think are innocent but end up getting used against them. For example, apologizing is technically a form of admitting fault. If you apologize, you’re saying that there’s something for you to be sorry for.
5. Exchange Information
When you speak to the other parties involved in the accident, you should only exchange information. Do not speak about the accident or how it occurred. Keep conversations brief. Be sure to get the following information:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color, and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
6. Look out for Witnesses
After being involved in a car accident, any evidence that you can gather will be useful later. One of the best forms of evidence is witness testimony. Once you have completed the above steps, you should see if there is anybody standing around who may have seen the accident happen. If so, approach them and ask them if they would mind sticking around to speak to the police. You should also ask for their name and contact information.
7. Document the Accident
Collecting evidence is one of the best ways that you can help yourself after a car accident. As soon as you’re able to, take out your phone and make notes about what happened. Car accidents often cause shock and short-term memory loss. So the sooner you document what happened, the better off your injury claim will be.
You should try to document as many of the following items as possible:
- Names of people involved
- Date and time of the accident
- Address of the accident or the nearest cross streets
- Direction you were traveling in
- Direction the other car was traveling in
- Details about driving conditions, weather, visibility, and so on
- Your account of what happened
Now it’s time to get photographic evidence.
8. Take Photos and Video of the Accident Scene
One of the most important pieces of evidence that you can collect yourself is photos and video of the accident and your injuries. Pictures are worth a thousand words and can provide concrete evidence for your case.
You should take pictures and video of your car, other cars involved in the accident, your injuries, any injuries of passengers in your vehicle, and the area surrounding the accident scene. You never know what you might capture in the moment.
9. Notify Your Insurance Company
While you are not required to call your insurance company from the scene of the car accident, you’ll need to do so as soon as possible. Remember, you are only reporting that you were involved in a car accident. Do not give any extra details until you have spoken to a qualified Arizona car accident attorney. If it turns out that your insurance company needs to cover some of your damages, you don’t want them to use anything you said against you.
10. Keep Careful Records
Make sure to keep careful records of your injury case. We recommend that you get a folder for all your paperwork. And use a notebook or your phone to write everything down. If you talked to your insurance company, write down the date and time of your phone call and details about what you stated. If you received a medical bill in the mail, keep it in your folder. Keeping careful documentation of anything related to the accident will benefit your injury claim.
11. Never Sign an Agreement or Waiver Without an Attorney
One of the best pieces of advice our office can provide you here is to not sign anything. The at-fault party’s insurance company will try to contact you once you file a claim with your insurance company. They may offer you quick cash in exchange for a couple minutes of paperwork. This is a common tactic employed by insurance adjusters to minimize your damages. They would rather you accept an offer before knowing the extent of your actual damages. So make sure you speak to an attorney before signing away your right to collect appropriate compensation.
A few thousand dollars may seem like a lot of money at the time. But I assure you, they would not be offering any money if they didn’t think their client was at fault. Speak to an attorney about your case and legal options first.
12. Don’t Discuss the Accident Online
Social media has become a major part of our lives. It’s become common to share everything that happens with friends and family in an instant. However, in the case of a car accident injury, you want to be careful with what you put out online. The opposing insurance company can and will use anything you post to social media to their benefit. This could be something as straightforward as you talking about the case in a post or something more covert like a video of you dancing at a wedding. Both of these give ammunition to the at-fault party’s insurance company to minimize your injuries and their client’s fault.
13. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer ASAP
Car accidents can cause massive physical and financial damage. That’s why Arizona law allows injured victims to seek compensation from negligent and reckless drivers. A personal injury claim can be carried out by individuals. But if you are injured in a car accident, you won’t want to face the insurance company’s lawyers on your own. They’re experts at saving insurance companies money by not paying fair compensation to injured parties.
As soon as you’re able to after your car accident, you should contact a car accident attorney.
It’s best to talk to an attorney before speaking with your insurance company or the at-fault party’s insurance company to prevent yourself from accidentally damaging your case.
After speaking to a lawyer agreeing to work together, your attorney will manage your injury claim from there.
If you’re looking for a talented car accident attorney, look no further than Abels & Annes. We have decades of experience working on Arizona car accident cases and an excellent track record of obtaining maximum compensation for our clients. For more information, contact us online or call us at 855-749-5299.