You’ve Been in a Car Wreck. Now What?

Published in Personal Injury on July 18, 2018

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, over 37,000 people die in auto accidents every year. An additional 2.35 million people are injured or disabled. Given the frequency of auto accidents and the tragic consequences they cause, it is crucial that you know what to do when you are involved in a wreck so that you can recover compensation you deserve when you have been injured as a result of another person’s negligence.

The Basics

Missouri law requires that when another driver strikes you, you must not leave the scene of the accident. If possible, you should stop immediately in a location that does not obstruct traffic and be aware of continued dangers (fire, other drivers, etc.). Assess the situation and determine whether anyone involved in the collision requires emergency assistance. You should call 911 to request medical assistance for any injured parties and for law enforcement assistance. While this will be a stressful situation, it is important that you stay as calm as possible so that you can address your own needs and the needs of others involved in the incident. Stay at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If you leave before law enforcement officers arrive, you will not be able to give your statement about how the accident occurred and a report may not be created. Without a report, your ability to bring a claim against a negligent driver will be negatively affected. Among other things, police reports document important details about the driving conditions, the cause of the accident, the identities of people involved in the accident, and the identities of any witnesses.

Communication with the Other Driver

If possible, you should exchange information with the drivers of all vehicles involved in the collision. This information should include driver’s license information, contact information (phone number and mailing address), and insurance information. Take a photograph of the other drivers’ licenses and their insurance cards. As you communicate with the other drivers, avoid making statements about who may be at fault for the accident. Also avoid making statements about your physical condition or any injuries you or those in your vehicle may have suffered.

Gather Evidence

It is important to gather as much evidence at the scene as you can. This includes taking photographs of all of the vehicles involved in the accident. Also photograph any visible marks like skid marks or gouges in the road. Take the best pictures possible and ensure that they are not blurred. You should also identify everyone who witnessed the wreck and obtain their contact information. Speak with each of them about what they observed. If they give you permission, you could also record what they say using the recording feature on your smart phone. Check your surroundings to determine whether any nearby businesses have surveillance cameras that may have recorded the incident. If so, contact the business owners or managers to obtain a copy of the recorded footage.

Communication with the Insurance Companies

Soon after the collision, representatives from the insurance companies will contact you and request to take your statement about how the collision occurred. If you provide a statement soon after a wreck, it is possible that you will still be affected by the accident and may not be prepared to adequately answer the questions posed to you. It is best not to provide your statement until you’ve consulted with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can prepare you for the rigors of the interview. The attorney can also be present with you during the interview to make sure the insurance representative does not take advantage of you by asking difficult or tricky questions.

Obtaining Medical Treatment

If you’ve been injured in the collision, you should seek immediate medical treatment. Delaying treatment will cause the insurance company to question whether the wreck caused your injuries and whether your injuries are very serious. While you should tell you physicians and other medical providers that you are seeking treatment for injuries suffered in the auto accident, you should not have them bill your auto insurance policy or the other driver’s insurance policy directly. The medical payments coverage available on your policy can be used later to pay your portion of the medical bills once your health insurance has paid its portion. A discussion of medical payments insurance coverage can be found here https://www.facebook.com/bolivarlaw/photos/a.253543091393157.61139.170396416374492/1819760311438086/?type=3&theater . One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer after an accident is that the attorney will deal with the insurance company so you can focus on your medical treatment and healing.

 

Auto accidents can be challenging, but by knowing what to expect and by working with an experienced personal injury lawyer, you can receive fair compensation for your injuries. If you’ve been injured by another person, contact the experienced trial attorneys at Douglas, Haun & Heidemann, P.C. for a free consultation to see how we can help.