Most people are shocked and confused after a car accident. If they have never been in a crash before, they may be lost about what to do next. They can easily make mistakes that make them less safe and hurt their ability to recover compensation.
However, if you follow these eight steps after a car accident in Oklahoma, you should put yourself in a much better position to protect your health and your right to file an insurance claim and/or personal injury lawsuit.
1. Assess your injuries.
If you are seriously injured, or if you can see visible injuries or open wounds, you should call 911 for emergency medical assistance. If you do not have visible injuries, you may still have soft tissue, brain or internal organ injuries that will manifest after you leave the crash scene.
So, even if you do not call an ambulance, you should still seek medical attention as soon as possible. You will protect your health. You will also prevent an insurance company from arguing that your injuries are unrelated to the crash, not as serious as you claim or made worse due to your delay in getting treatment.
2. Stop and check on others.
You should always stop and check on the other driver involved in the car accident. You should never leave the scene. Fleeing from the scene of an accident could lead to criminal charges and cost you the ability to file a claim for compensation.
3. Call the police.
The other driver in a crash may say there’s “no need to get the police or insurance companies involved.” Do not listen. Instead, call the police. You will want an officer to secure the scene and prepare an official accident report. You can order a copy of that report later on. It will be a key to the investigation of your case.
4. Gather evidence at the scene of the accident.
If possible, you should take pictures of the wreck scene. Ideally, you would get photos of all four corners of the cars involved in the crash and their interiors as well as skid marks, debris, road signs, lights and other shots of the surrounding area. Also, before they leave, you should get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses. The photos and witnesses will help to determine and explain why the auto accident happened.
5. Exchange insurance information.
Always exchange insurance information with the other driver involved in the accident. One of the larger insurance companies, State Farm, suggests that you get the driver’s name, the make and model of the car and any other identifying information you can gather. You should report the accident to your own auto insurance company as soon as possible.
6. Do not admit fault.
You should never make statements at the scene of the accident or at the hospital in which you accept blame for the accident or state that you have no injuries. You need to be truthful with the police and your medical provider. However, you should leave the determination of fault to the investigators and leave the diagnosis of your injuries to the doctors. If you make statements about liability or injuries, the insurance company could try to use those statements later on to deny or limit the amount of your financial recovery.
7. Stay organized.
Keep a file with various sections for all your medical records related to the accident. You should also store other documents such as the accident report and any appraisals for the repair of the damage to your car. Keeping this information in a central location will make it easy to bring it with you to a consultation.
8. Speak to an attorney.
Talk with a lawyer before you give a written statement to the insurance company. You should also refrain from accepting a settlement offer until you have allowed an attorney to investigate and analyze your case first.
At Cain Law Office, we will provide a timely and free consultation about your car accident. We will review what happened to you and explain your rights and options, and we can get started on your case right away. We serve clients throughout Oklahoma from our offices in Edmond and Oklahoma City. Contact us today to learn more.