We hope that you never need to know what to do after a serious car accident.
But with millions of car accidents causing injury annually in the U.S., it’s never a bad idea to be prepared. Part 1 of this series discussed what to do immediately afterward. Part 2 covers the steps you should take as soon as you can-starting the next day, if possible.
1. Prioritize your health and recovery.
We cannot overstate this: you must take care of yourself first. No one else can take care of your health and your physical recovery for you, so these should be your highest priority. Do what your doctors recommend in terms of appointments, physical therapy, and pain management. And don’t neglect your mental health. The trauma of a serious accident is real and can have lasting effects.
Delegate or delay other decisions and tasks. Let the police and the insurance company and your lawyer (see #3 below) worry about the investigation. Don’t be in a hurry to replace your car, return to work, or talk with anyone about what happened. Do not give in to pressure to settle anything with your insurance company or the other party. Give yourself time to think about what happened and to assess the long-term consequences before you start making decisions.
2. Keep comprehensive records.
There is a staggering amount of paperwork to keep track of in the aftermath of an accident. You will want information from law enforcement, including a copy of the police report or accident report, the names and badge numbers of the responding officers, names and contact information for the other involved parties and any witnesses. You will have medical information and bills to keep track of. You will want pictures of your car, and the accident scene, and any outward physical injuries you have. If you keep these records in one folder (physical or digital), the easier they’ll be to find later.
In addition to obtaining and maintaining documents, try to keep a daily journal while you are recovering. Start by writing out everything you can remember about the accident-sticking to the facts as you did at the scene rather than speculating. You may think you’ll never forget, but memory is tricky! Writing a daily entry will help you to remember every medical treatment you received; all the correspondence you’ve had with insurers, law enforcement, and medical professionals; the day-to-day symptoms and impacts of your injuries; and your expenses.
3. Call a lawyer.
If you’ve been injured by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, don’t try to do everything yourself. You’re going to need all the help you can muster to put your life back together. It may be days, weeks, or months before you learn the full impact of your injuries on your health, your job, and your family.
Let a lawyer help you. A good attorney will work with you on a contingency fee basis, where you will not pay anything unless and until you recover damages. Find a lawyer you can talk with and trust. Remember that the insurance company is looking out for its own bottom line, not for you. Don’t settle with anyone, and don’t sign any releases, until you’ve consulted with an attorney.
You don’t have to go this alone. PCVA Law’s attorneys specialize in major traffic accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability, in addition to other types of personal injury cases. You work on getting well again; we’re here to help you recover financially. Contact us today.