Your Post-Accident Action Plan: What to Do After a Car Accident

what to do after a car accident

A car accident can turn your world upside down in an instant. Those first hours and days are the most crucial to protecting your health and your rights. Yet, most people don’t know the steps they should take to avoid getting taken advantage of.

This blog post provides a proven plan to safeguard yourself after a collision, from the second of impact through negotiations. You’ll get insider tips from our personal injury attorneys on protecting yourself from unfair settlements and maximizing compensation.

Whether it’s a fender bender or a total loss, our practical advice will empower you to take control of the situation. Follow this roadmap now, before or after an accident, knowing you can handle the aftermath.

1. Stop and Get to Safety

First things first – make sure you and any passengers are safe. Carefully pull over to the side of the road or the nearest safe area away from traffic, if possible. Turn on your hazard lights so other cars know to proceed with caution around you.

Take a minute to check on everyone, even if the accident seems minor. See if all passengers are okay or if anyone needs medical attention. If you notice any serious injuries or someone is in distress, call 911 right away. The dispatcher can get an ambulance and police heading your way while you wait it out at the scene. Getting prompt medical care takes priority.

2. Document the Scene

If it’s safe, take photos of damage to all vehicles involved, any skid marks on the pavement, and the overall accident scene. Get contact and insurance information from other drivers. Ask witnesses if they can share what they saw. Make sure to get their names and numbers in case the police want statements later.

Note things like weather and road conditions at the time, too. Details matter when determining fault in a car accident.

3. Report the Accident

You’ll need to file an official police report, so be prepared to provide details when officers arrive. Answer all their questions honestly, without admitting fault, and follow any instructions they give about clearing the vehicles from traffic.

Before the police leave, make sure to get the report number and the badge number of the responding officer. You’ll need those later when you contact insurance and go through the claims process. Discuss the next steps with the officer, such as getting a tow truck out to remove damaged vehicles from the scene.

4. Seek Medical Care

Even if you feel fine, get medical attention after a motor vehicle accident. Your adrenaline can hide symptoms of insidious injuries that show up later, like concussions. Injuries can take time to manifest fully. Tell the doctor all the details about the accident and describe any pain or discomfort. Keep records of doctor visits and save receipts.

5. Contact Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance provider about the accident right away. Walk them through what happened calmly and stick to just the facts. Provide any police report case numbers you were given. Ask what you need to do to start a claim and get your vehicle repaired.

Be sure to discuss your coverage and deductible details specifically. Insurance terminology can be confusing, so feel free to ask questions. Before ending the call, ensure you fully understand your options, financial responsibilities, and the claims process. The agent is there to help explain it all clearly. Staying informed will make navigating the insurance side of things much smoother.

6. Document Evidence and Damage

Be sure to document all accident-related damages, injuries, and expenses thoroughly. Take photos of vehicle damage and get repair estimates. Get copies of all medical records and bills related to any injuries sustained. Keep every receipt – for vehicle repairs, medical treatment, prescriptions, and anything else stemming from the accident.

If you miss any work due to the accident, keep track of those lost wages as well. Having complete documentation and evidence will give you leverage when negotiating claims with insurance companies. The more proof you have, the fairer your settlement is likely to be.

7. Handle Communication Carefully

When speaking to any other parties involved, avoid making statements that admit fault or place blame. Don’t make speculations – just stick to sharing objective facts about the accident itself. Let your insurance company handle the negotiations.

For guidance on communicating with others, consult with an attorney experienced in accident claims before responding. They can advise you on how to interact with other parties in a way that protects your interests to the fullest. Having an attorney on your side ensures you avoid missteps when coordinating with insurers, police, and other drivers involved.

8. Consult a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer to Maximize Your Settlement

If you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, enlisting a California car accident lawyer is key. They will fiercely protect your rights every step of the way. An attorney can analyze your case details, estimate the settlement amount you deserve, and negotiate with insurers to get you properly compensated.

Historically, accident victims represented by lawyers receive substantially higher settlements than those who try to go it alone. A personal injury lawyer’s dedication to your interests can make all the difference.

At DP Injury Attorneys, we’ve successfully handled numerous car accident claims throughout San Diego. Our attorneys will fight to get you every penny you deserve while you focus your energy on recovery.

Set up a consultation today so we can review your case specifics. Let us stand beside you and lighten this burden during your time of trauma and uncertainty. Contact us now – you are not alone.

Author Bio

Arthur Paul D’Egidio is the Managing Partner of DP Injury Attorneys, a San Diego personal injury law firm. With more than 12 years of experience in California injury law, he has dedicated his practice to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury matters, including car accidents, workers’ compensation, slip and falls, catastrophic injury, and wrongful death cases.

Arthur received his Juris Doctor from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California as well as the San Diego County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Super Lawyer for seven straight years by Thomson Reuters and a “Top 40 Under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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