What To Do If You Are Injured In A Car/Auto Accident
According to research, over 6,000,000 people in America get into a car accident annually. Odds are eventually you or someone you love will be involved in an accident. Many people who get into car accidents don’t know exactly what they should do after the dust settles. Should they call the police? Should they drive away if the car is able? Should they seek medical attention? We interviewed attorney John Hayes about car accidents and what people should do if they get in a car accident.
1. CALL THE POLICE
The first thing to do if you are in a car accident is call the police. “Sometimes people think if they aren’t hurt very badly or if their car isn’t in bad shape they shouldn’t call the police. The police should always be called when an accident occurs,” Hayes advised.
2. FILLING OUT AN ACCURATE POLICE REPORT
The moment the police arrive, people are often excited and overwhelmed with emotion, which makes gathering their thoughts difficult. They need to calm down as best as they can and tell the officer exactly what happened. Make sure the officer documents everything. “The cause of the accident should be recorded. All injuries, big and small, should be reported at the scene. Sometimes small injuries end up becoming big injuries a day or two later when everything settles down so it is important to report any aches and pains. If the injured parties are unable to articulate exactly what happened or are physically unable to talk to officers at the scene, they should fill the police officer in as soon as they can. Sometimes it’s days later in a hospital room. It is very important that this happens. Everything must be documented,” Hayes explained.
3. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY
It is always important to seek medical attention. “When the police arrive and a report is completed, the people involved in the accident should ask for an ambulance if the injuries are bad enough or inform the police officer that they will be seeking medical attention on their own. It is very important that people involved in an accident are checked out by medical professionals,” Hayes said.
4. FOLLOW UP WITH YOUR DOCTOR
Often after a car accident, those injured in the accident go to the Emergency Room to get checked out. In many cases, if there isn’t any life threatening injuries, the person is released and allowed to go home. “People often make the mistake of thinking that if they are released from the hospital they are all set. This is not always the case. People should always follow up with their doctor to get checked out. There may be non-life-threatening injuries that may cause the person to miss work or be in a lot of pain for a long time,” Hayes noted.
Sometimes a small accident turns into a fight with an insurance company or a small injury turns into pain and suffering down the road
5. FILE A CLAIM AND/OR HIRE A LAWYER
After all is said and done, the injured party will need everything well documented so when a claim is filed with an insurance company, there is a timeline of what happened and when it happened. “Insurance companies review everything with a fine tooth comb. If they see any red flags, they will put up a fight which is one reason everything must be documented,” said Hayes. It is the responsibility of the person in the accident to file a claim with their insurance company. They may not be reimbursed for their medical bills and loss of work if their claim isn’t well documented. “Another reason apart from the insurance claim that everything must be documented is because if a person decides to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering they have a timeline of events with the facts so a lawyer can help them put a lawsuit together.”
Many car accidents are open and shut cases where the people involved in the accident get some reimbursement for their car and medical bills and everyone walks away and moves on with life, but many cases are more complicated. “Sometimes a small accident turns into a fight with an insurance company or a small injury turns into pain and suffering down the road. This is why a police report is necessary and I suggest a person keeps personal notes on everything. When everything is well documented, a stronger lawsuit can be presented,” Hayes noted. When in doubt about whether you have a case, contact a lawyer and set up a consultation to go over your car accident.