Like most people, you probably have a few ideas about what to do after a car accident. At the same time, you are unsure about every step that you should take. Additionally, when a terrifying and traumatic event like a car accident happens, you can easily forget what you should do and make mistakes. Unfortunately, many insurance companies will pounce on those mistakes and try to take advantage of you.
To help you to avoid missteps after a car crash, Cain Law Office provides the following list of 21 things you should DO and NOT DO after a car accident in Oklahoma:
DO These Things After a Car Accident
- Calm down. The first thing you absolutely must do is take a second to calm yourself and check on your condition. Are you OK? Did you suffer injuries? Are others OK? Is anyone in danger from fire or because they are lying in the road?
- Call 911. You need to get emergency medical help on the scene. After police and EMTs arrive, they will secure the crash scene, get traffic flowing again and, most importantly, check everyone for injuries.
- Get witness names and contact information. If witnesses stop to help, be sure to get their names and phone numbers before they leave. If they won’t give them to you, try to get their license plate numbers. You can provide this information to the police and/or your lawyer.
- Take pictures. You should get photos of all cars involved in the crash, including the front, back and sides of the cars. You should also get shots of the entire scene, including tire marks, debris, traffic controls, street signs and anything else that may be helpful. If you are too hurt to take photos, ask another person to do it.
- Exchange information. The police will usually gather this information. However, if possible, you should try to exchange names, contact information and insurance information with the other driver (or drivers).
- Cooperate with police. Provide all information that the responding police officer requests. This officer will prepare a report that you will later need to obtain from the police department.
- Get medical help right away. Even if you are unsure if you are injured, it is still a good idea to get checked out. If you see a doctor, you will protect your health. You will also document your injuries. Be sure to also follow your doctor’s treatment plan.
- Keep all records. Save all medical bills, out-of-pocket expense receipts, insurance company letters and similar documents and records that you receive. Some people create a folder or file to retain all records in their accident claim.
- Keep notes. Take a few minutes to write down what you recall about the crash and keep a journal as you go through your treatment and recovery.
- Report the crash to your insurance company. Your insurance policy likely requires you to give notice of an accident – regardless of who was at fault. Give the notice in a timely manner.
- Call a lawyer as soon as possible. This may be the most important step that you take after an auto accident. Your lawyer will investigate the crash, gather your medical records, deal with the insurance companies and take many other steps to pursue maximum compensation for you. Meanwhile, you can focus on your health and your family.
- Feel free to ask questions of your lawyer. This is your case. You are the one in control. If you have any questions, you should always feel free to ask your lawyer. Additionally, you should receive regular updates about the status of your case.
DON’T Do These Things After a Car Accident
- Leave the scene. It is a basic traffic accident law: If you leave the scene, you commit a crime. Plus, if you leave before police arrive or before you get information from the other driver, you will lose your right to pursue compensation.
- Let the other driver leave the scene. If the other driver tries to leave, try to get the driver to stop. Of course, you don’t want to engage in physical violence. If you are worried about the other driver’s temper, just do your best to get the driver’s license plate number and note a description of the driver and the car. Give this information to the police. If you have a phone and can do so, capture a picture or video of the person and car. Also, never let someone convince you that you don’t need to call the police or file an insurance claim.
- Admit fault. You should never admit fault or attempt to assign fault when you talk with other drivers and the police. Just stick to the facts. Leave the determination of fault to investigators.
- Give recorded statements or sign anything. Insurance adjusters will want you to give a recorded statement, or they may try to get you to sign a release which gives them access to your medical records. Talk to a lawyer before you even think about doing any of these things.
- Accept a settlement before you talk with a lawyer. If you accept a settlement offer or sign a release, you may walk away from a large sum of money and completely give away other rights.
- Be afraid to ask questions. You can never ask a “bad question” when you talk with your lawyer. It’s true: The only bad question is the one you don’t ask. You deserve complete information about your case, your rights and the process that lies ahead. Additionally, you should feel free to ask about your lawyer’s experience and approach to working with clients.
- Lie to your lawyer. If you hide facts or become untruthful with your lawyer, you will make your lawyer’s job harder. If it is bad, the sooner your lawyer knows, the sooner that your lawyer can help you to minimize the damage to your case.
- Forget your property damages. While your physical injuries may be severe, you could have substantial property damage, too. A lawyer that represents you on your injury claim can assist with your property damage claim as well. Getting your vehicle repaired or replaced will ultimately help you to get back on your feet.
- Talk about your case on social media. Careless comments and images on social media will damage your case. You should expect the insurance company to check on your social media accounts to find “dirt” on you. If you post a picture from your vacation, for instance, the insurance company may try to use it to argue that you are not really hurt. If you tell everyone about your case on social media, the insurance company may say you are just in it for the money. You should really stay away from social media – period – until your case is over.
DON’T Settle for Less. DO Contact Us Today About Your Case.
Cain Law Office has spent more than 20 years protecting the rights of injured individuals and their families throughout Oklahoma. If you have suffered a serious injury in a car, motorcycle, truck or pedestrian accident, you deserve an attorney who will fight for you and help you to pursue as much compensation as possible for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation through our offices in Oklahoma City and Edmond. There is no risk: We won’t accept a fee unless we secure compensation for you.