After a car accident, your safety is what matters the most. Beyond that, you should take steps to protect your interests and your right to a claim if you are injured by a careless driver. Overlooking certain practical details after a car accident can potentially jeopardize any future legal claim. Listed below are important steps to take after any car accident.
Check for Injuries
After all vehicles come to a stop, the first priority is getting medical help for anyone who is hurt. Scan the scene to determine if anyone is injured. Are you in pain? Do you notice obvious injuries to anyone in your vehicle? What about passengers in the other vehicles and any pedestrians at the scene?
Call for Help
Call 911 and ask them to send police and an ambulance. Let the dispatcher know if anyone is hurt. Describe all injuries to the best of your ability. This early information will help emergency responders assist injured parties as quickly as possible once they arrive at the scene.
When it comes to car accident injuries, it is best to avoid moving anyone in pain or with obvious, serious injuries. Doing so can worsen their condition and cause further damage. Instead, wait for emergency personnel to assist injured parties.
Report the Accident
Once a police officer arrives, tell them exactly how the car accident happened to the best of your ability. State the facts, while avoiding admitting fault. If you observed the other driver on their phone, speeding, or swerving, mention it to the officer. Aggressive driving, drunk driving, and distracted driving are all leading causes of car accidents. In fact, in Pennsylvania, they may even constitute as criminal offenses.
Exchange Contact Information
After speaking with the police officer, the next step is to exchange contact information with the other driver, including:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
- Insurance company and policy number
- Vehicle type, color, and model
- License plate number
- Driver’s license number
Document the Scene
This next step is perhaps the most critical if you decide to file a personal injury claim for damages after your first-time car accident. The information you collect at the scene tells the story of how and why the crash happened.
If you do not take the time to document these details now, they may be lost forever. Without this vital evidence, your case may be significantly compromised. When documenting the accident scene, remember to do the following:
- Take photographs of property damage and road conditions.
- If anyone witnessed your accident, ask them what they saw and take down their contact information.
- Write down the responding officer’s name and badge number.
- Ask for a copy of the police report.
- Gather the contact information of everyone involved.
Consider Hiring a Lawyer
A car accident can be very expensive. Between doctor visits for common auto accident injuries, likes sprains, strains, tears, and broken bones, and the cost of fixing your car, you may owe thousands of dollars. Expensive bills can especially be troubling if your car accident was caused by a negligent driver.
Often, an insurance settlement is not enough to cover all expenses of a car accident. A personal injury claim may be the answer to recover fair and full compensation for your losses. A personal injury claim may include compensation for economic damages, including:
- Current and future medical bills
- Lost income from work
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical devices
- Physical therapy
Non-economic damages are also allowed in Pennsylvania. They include compensation for the following:
- Emotional trauma, including anxiety, stress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Pain and suffering, which is calculated based on the severity of the injuries, your age, and how the injuries have affected your life.
A consultation with an experienced lawyer is the best way to learn if an insurance or a legal claim makes sense for you after your first car accident.
Notify the Insurance Company
You need to report the accident to your insurance company. After your first car accident, it is normal to feel a bit intimidated by this process. However, there is no need to feel anxious; auto insurance exists for this reason. Your agent’s job is to protect you and your interests and help you navigate the claim process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
However, you should not accept a quick settlement offer. The insurance company’s goal is to pay out as little as possible for an accident. That settlement may not be enough to cover all of your losses. Before signing on the dotted line, always speak with your lawyer to make sure the offer is fair and reasonable based on the economic and non-economic damages you experienced.
Sometimes, litigation is necessary to recover full compensation. That includes your physical and emotional health, your ability to work, and your overall quality of life now and in the future.
Northeast Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC Help Clients After First-Time Collisions
If you were injured in a first-time car accident, you may not know what steps to take. Our Northeast Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Wiggins Law, LLC can guide you through the process. Call us at 267-225-0770 or complete our online form today to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Northeast Philadelphia, and we serve clients throughout the Philadelphia area, including Kensington, Tacony, Torresdale, Mayfair, Port Richmond, Allegheny, and Olney.