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What to Do After a Car Accident
Auto accidents are, thankfully, a rare event for most people. However, this means that when a crash occurs, we may not know what to do to keep ourselves safe, protect others who were involved, or preserve our legal rights – including our right to compensation.
Whether you have just been in a car accident or it has been a couple of weeks since your crash, you can take steps now to improve your chances of fully recovering your health and pursuing the compensation you need to move forward.
Contact an experienced Virginia car accident lawyer at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC to discuss what to do after a car accident and how we can help with your case. Call or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation on your car accident law suit.
In the Moments After a Car Crash
When a car accident happens, keep these steps in mind:
- Get to safety.
If possible, move the vehicles out of traffic. If a vehicle has been totally disabled by the crash, use hazard lights, flares, or brightly colored objects to make the vehicle more visible to oncoming cars.Take care when moving people to safety. If a person is unconscious or is complaining of head, neck, or back pain, do not move him or her. Instead, call 911 or the local emergency number. Emergency medical personnel will know how to move the person without causing further injury.
- Call for help.
Call, or have someone else call, 911 or your local emergency number. Calling for help is an important part of what to do after a car accident if anyone appears injured. When law enforcement officers come to the scene, the accident report they make can serve as valuable evidence later if you have difficulty settling your claim with an insurance company. Law enforcement may also be able to help if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident. The officers can gather evidence and may be able to locate the runaway driver.
- Get medical help.In some accidents, emergency medical personnel may arrive on the scene and want to examine you. If you aren’t treated at the scene or transported to a hospital, however, make plans to see a doctor as soon as you can after your accident. The doctor can examine you to ensure that all your injuries are identified, documented, and treated. The sooner you start receiving medical care, the more likely it is that you will make the fullest possible recovery.
- Document the accident.Gather the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of anyone else who was involved in the accident, if possible. Also remember to take down contact information for witnesses, as their recollection of what happened may help you build your claim for compensation. If you have a camera or smartphone, take photos of the vehicles, the site of the accident, and any vehicle damage or injuries that are apparent. Writing a short summary of what you remember about the crash can also help you keep track of the moments leading up to the accident.
- Make plans for your vehicle.Whether you have your vehicle towed to a garage or you can still drive it home, make plans to have it examined after the accident as well. Hidden damage can result in serious and costly problems later on. Having a mechanic inspect the vehicle will help you establish the extent of the damage and make a clearer claim for car accident compensation.
In the Days and Weeks that Follow
In addition to the actions you should take immediately, it’s important to know what to do after a car accident in the longer term. Here are some steps you should take in the days and weeks that follow:
1. Read your insurance policy.
Now is a good time to reread your insurance policy. When you know what it does and does not cover, you are in a better position to discuss with your attorney what full compensation for your losses may look like.
2. File your insurance claim.
Contact your insurance company promptly to report the accident. A delay in reporting a crash may result in the insurance company denying your claim. When you file your claim, stick to the basic facts: where the accident happened, the day and time, and what kind of accident it was. If you are asked to give a recorded statement, you may politely decline; simply say that you are still investigating and will talk about the details of the accident at a later time.
3. Follow all of your doctor’s instructions.
If you haven’t seen a doctor since the crash, make an appointment today. If you have been to the doctor, it is important to follow medical instructions carefully. Keep your follow-up appointments and any appointments for testing or to see a specialist. If you’ve been prescribed medications or a medical device such as a brace, follow the instructions for using these as carefully as possible.
4. If new symptoms appear, see your doctor.
Some injuries, such as neck damage caused by whiplash, take a few days to fully manifest. Psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress may also appear in the days and weeks after the accident, and they can be just as distressing and disabling as any physical injury. If any new symptoms appear, see your doctor promptly.
5. Store paperwork related to the accident in a secure place.
Keep all bills related to the accident, such as medical bills for your injuries, repair estimates for your vehicle, lists of the miles you drive related to the accident, and copies of any police or insurance reports. This paperwork will help you establish the full extent of your losses and prove what happened in the crash.
6. Talk to an experienced auto accident lawyer.
Insurance companies frequently strive to avoid paying claims – even when the person making the claim is clearly entitled to compensation. They also keep experienced lawyers on their side to fight claims. Your best chance to win a disputed claim is to bring the same experience and dedication onto your side by hiring an attorney who understands how insurance companies fight and how to fight back.
We Know Exactly What to Do After a Car Accident
Attorney Jim Parrish knows how hard insurance companies work to avoid paying claims because he used to represent insurance companies. Now, he puts his experience, knowledge, and resources to work protecting the rights of those who have been injured in car accidents.
Whether you were hurt in a crash in Manassas, Fairfax, Warrenton, or elsewhere in Northern Virginia, contact us today to schedule a free consultation, and find out how a Manassas car accident lawyer can help you pursue maximum compensation for your injuries.