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I Just Had a Car Crash—What Do I Do Now?

March 16, 2021

Even the most careful driver can have a car crash. This experience leaves many people feeling rattled and confused—especially if the wreck wasn’t their fault. While the hours after a collision can be stressful, your actions can affect the strength and value of your personal injury claims.

Our lawyers have been helping crash victims get the compensation they deserve for decades, recovering more than $500 million for our clients. In this blog, the team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys outlines the steps you need to take in the first 24 hours after a car crash.

What to Do Immediately After a Car Crash

Step 1: Remain Calm

The first thing to always do after a car crash is to remain calm. Immediately after a collision, your body is pumping with adrenaline and other “fight or flight” chemicals. Take a deep breath and give yourself a moment to collect your thoughts. Remaining cool and calm helps you gather all the information needed in a safe and thorough manner.

Also, you should never leave the scene of an accident. If you are involved in a hit and run crash, do your best to write down all of the information you remember about the at-fault driver and their vehicle. Sometimes, the police or an experienced car wreck lawyer can identify the hit and run driver and hold them accountable.

For example, Andy Citrin helped Ashley, a motorcyclist who was gravely injured after a hit-and-run driver dragged him for miles. Using surveillance footage and other information, we were able to track down the driver and his damaged vehicle. Our investigation also uncovered that the reckless driver had been intoxicated—and that three different bars had overserved him.

RELATED: Ashley’s Story: Injured Motorcyclist Get Results With Aggressive Representation

Step 2: Check for Injuries and Call 911

In Alabama and Mississippi, you must call 911 when someone is injured in a car wreck or there was at least $250 in property damage. That means that after nearly every car crash (even a “minor” fender bender), you should contact the authorities and get a police report— even if the other driver tries to discourage you.

If someone was seriously injured, calling 911 can be a matter of life and death. The sooner first responders get to the scene, the sooner people can get the care they need. If you’re not too hurt to move, check your passengers and people in other vehicles for injuries.

Depending on your situation, move yourself and all passengers to safety. If your vehicle is drivable, turn on its hazard lights and move it to the side of the road. If you can’t move your car, leave it where it is and get yourself and your passengers to safety.

Related: 5 Ways to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe During a Car Crash

Step 3: Document Everything

Gather as much evidence as you can at the accident scene.

  • Take pictures or videos of the crash scene from different angles to show the extent of the damage. This might include:
    • All the vehicles involved, including their damage and license plate numbers
    • Skid marks and debris trails
    • Any suspicious behavior, especially if someone tries to hide or destroy evidence
  • Get the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance details.
  • Talk to any witnesses and get their names and contact information.
  • Cooperate with the police investigation and report any concerns you had about another driver’s drunk or reckless driving.
  • Write down the names of the police officers that responded to your 911 call, including their badge numbers.

The more information you can get, the better.

If you don’t have any documentation of the crash, it’s a lot harder to deal with the insurance company, and you might not receive ta fair settlement for your injuries, pain and suffering, and vehicle repairs.

Step 4: Get Medical Treatment

Immediately after a car accident, you might think you just have “bumps and bruises.” However, you might be mistaken. Adrenaline can numb your pain, and some injuries take time to develop.

If you have any discomfort, get medical treatment. Your doctors might identify developing or hard-to-find medical issues, like internal bleeding, brain trauma, and broken bones that could become life-changing without care. And these early medical records will be essential evidence in your personal injury claim, since they can connect your diagnoses to the crash.

Step 5: Avoid Posting on Social Media

Don’t post about your accident or any health updates on social media. In fact, it’s best not to post at all while your case is open. Many insurance companies search for that type of information and could potentially use it against you. Save posting anything until after the case is closed.

Insurance companies will do everything they can to deny or lessen an injury claim. Anything you publicly post after the accident can be used to cast doubt on your claim. Even posting a photo of something not related to the accident—like going out to a restaurant or holding a baby—could be used by an insurance claims adjuster or a defense attorney as evidence that your injuries aren’t that bad.

If you share accident details with friends and family members, make sure to tell them not to discuss the accident on their social media accounts.

The Importance of Evidence: Linda’s Story

When Linda and her son decided to go fishing at a canal, they didn’t think they’d be nearly hit by a speeding boat. The boat came up the shore and straight at them, nearly hitting Linda. The boat driver began name-calling, blaming, and threatening Linda and her son. The police were called and while everyone waited, the boat driver and a friend began clearing away empty beer bottles. Taking quick action, Linda and her son pulled out their phones and began taking photos and videos that were later shown to the police.

Linda injured her knee as she tried to get out of the speeding boat’s path. In the days following the accident, her knee pain got worse and she scheduled an appointment with her doctor. After she was denied compensation from the boat owner’s insurance company, she decided to call the Andy Citrin team.

With a careful investigation, strategy, and skillful negotiations, Linda was able to get a fair settlement that covered her medical bills and pain and suffering. Without a doubt, Linda’s quick action, taking photos of the crash scene, and getting prompt medical treatment, undoubtedly helped her case.

RELATED: Linda’s Story: Holding a Drunk Boater Accountable

Demanding Compensation After a Car Crash

There are two main ways you can receive compensation after a car crash—either through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

When you file an insurance claim, the company will assign an adjuster to your case. This individual will investigate your claim and decide how much compensation you’re owed. Sometimes, insurance companies settle a claim without litigation. However, the insurance adjuster’s job is to resolve your claim as cheaply and quickly as possible—so don’t assume that their first settlement offers are fair.

If your claim stalls during settlement negotiations, you can file a personal injury lawsuit and take the case to trial. Negotiations with the insurance company will continue even after you file a lawsuit, and many cases are settled before ever going to trial. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you determine your best course of action and make sure the at-fault driver’s insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you.

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys can help you get the justice you deserve if you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident on Alabama or Mississippi roads. We’ll meet with you individually to listen to your story, identify your options, and help you decide what to do next.

Related: 5 Ways a Car Accident Lawyer Can Support Injured People After a Crash

When Should I Call a Car Accident Lawyer After a Wreck?

Call an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, preferably within the first 24 hours after the car crash. Unlike the insurance company and its representatives, an injury attorney is on your side. They can help you preserve evidence, like trucking company logs, dangerous or defective car parts, and surveillance footage that can help you prove your case. They can also file your insurance claims for you, helping you avoid costly mistakes.

Insurance adjusters often try to get unrepresented survivors to make recorded statements about the wreck. During these “interviews,” they might ask you leading questions or try to get you to make inaccurate or conflicting statements. Later on, the insurance company will use your words against you, arguing that you weren’t seriously injured during the wreck or that you exaggerated your story.

Once you hire a respected lawyer, the insurance company cannot speak with unless your attorney is there. That means that the adjuster’s harassing phone calls and attempts to trip you up will end—giving you time and space to heal.

Insurance adjusters often try to get unrepresented survivors to make recorded statements about the wreck. During these “interviews,” they might ask you leading questions or try to get you to make inaccurate or conflicting statements. Later on, the insurance company will use your words against you, arguing that you weren’t seriously injured during the wreck or that you exaggerated your story.

We can also help you uncover each and every legal claim you might have. In addition to a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, many other parties might be owe you compensation:

  • Your Med Pay or uninsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance policies
  • The driver’s employer (if they were in the scope of their employment)
  • Manufacturers and distributors of unsafe vehicles and parts
  • Bars and restaurants that overserved a drunk driver
  • Companies that improperly loaded or maintained commercial vehicles or big trucks

Without an experienced lawyer, it’s easy to miss out of many of these claims and valuable compensation.

What Should I Bring to My Free Consultation With Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys?

While your personal injury lawyer will complete a full investigation of your wreck, make sure you bring any information you have with you to your appointment. (If you’re scheduled for a phone consultation or video conference, our team will tell you how to send us this information.) This might include:

  • Your police report
  • The names and contact information of the people involved in the collision
  • Pictures of the accident scene and your injuries
  • Insurance information from the other party
  • Copies your personal auto insurance policies or policy numbers
  • Letters from the insurance company
  • Any medical records or “off work” slips that you have
  • Any witness statements you were able to get

These documents can help our team understand the circumstances surrounding your crash and your case’s settlement value.

Questions About Your Car Crash? Contact Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys Today

For over 30 years, the Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys team has fought to make sure people like you get a fair chance at a comprehensive settlement.

To learn more about your options, steps to take to protect your case, and how the Andy Citrin team can help, please schedule a free, confidential consultation. Reserve your time today by contacting our team at 251-888-8888 or complete our online form.

 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject. 

References

Center for Advanced Public Safety. (n.d.) Crash Facts Book. University of Alabama College of Engineering. https://www.caps.ua.edu/outreach/reports/crash-facts-book/

 

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