What Steps Should You Take Following a Car Accident to Protect Your Personal Injury Claim?
The minutes and hours following an auto accident can be chaotic and stressful. However, the steps you take during this time can directly impact your personal injury claim in the future. Familiarizing yourself with these actions before an accident can help you be prepared if you end up in a vehicle collision. A helpful Wisconsin car accident lawyer can explain the actions you should take to safeguard your health and legal rights.
What is the Most Important Consideration After a Car Crash?
In the aftermath of an auto accident, your primary concern should always be for the health and well-being of yourself and everyone involved in the collision. If you are in a dangerous position, such as in the path of oncoming traffic, move yourself to safety. If anyone is seriously injured, call for emergency medical assistance and follow the instructions of the operator and the responding paramedics.
Even if you do not feel hurt after the accident, you should seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Many types of severe injuries may not be readily apparent after a crash. However, rapid treatment can be critical to reducing further physical damage and, in some cases, could even save your life. In addition to ensuring your well-being, a prompt visit with a medical professional creates a record of your injuries and ties them to your accident, which can be essential to a successful personal injury claim.
Follow all your doctor’s recommendations for follow-up appointments and treatment for your car crash injuries. These actions show your commitment to improving your condition. Be sure to keep copies of your medical records and expenses. If you do not agree with your diagnosis or are having continuing or worsening issues after the accident, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion.
What Other Actions Can You Take to Support Your Claim?
While getting proper medical care following the crash is vital to your health and personal injury claim, it is not the only step you can take to safeguard your claim. Your actions immediately following an accident can significantly impact your personal injury claim. If you are physically able to do these five things or can have a trusted friend or family member do them, it can help your case immensely.
Contact the Local Authorities
If the police are not on the scene, contact them to report the crash. Under Wisconsin law, you must report the accident if anyone has been injured or there is property damage over $1,000. Failing to do so can open you to legal consequences. However, you can report the accident even if you are uncertain whether it meets these requirements. A major advantage of contacting the police is that they will likely make a police report that contains details about the crash and who they believe may be at fault.
Take Pictures of the Accident Scene
Crash sites are usually cleaned up quickly, and valuable evidence can be lost. If you or an individual you trust can take pictures or video of the scene from many angles, it can provide useful information for your lawyer. Visual evidence is particularly important in cases where fault for the accident is contested.
Get Information From the Drivers Involved
Collect the driver’s insurance information, address, name, and vehicle registration. This information allows you or your lawyer to contact their insurer and begin filing a claim. Remember that there are often time limits on reporting an accident, so promptness is crucial.
Speak to Eyewitnesses
If anyone saw the accident, encourage them to stay at the scene and provide a statement to the police. At a minimum, get their contact information so your lawyer can reach them later. Eyewitness accounts of the accident can be crucial to your claim.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Contacting a trusted attorney as soon as possible after your accident can be one of the wisest actions you can take. An experienced car accident attorney can explain your next steps and handle all aspects of your personal injury case so you can focus all your energy on recovering. Your attorney can also ensure you do not inadvertently harm your claim through your actions or statements or miss important deadlines.
What Should You Avoid Doing After an Accident?
In addition to taking the steps listed above, you should also be aware of the actions that could potentially cause harm to your claim, including:
- Admitting fault: You should never discuss fault with witnesses, the police, the insurance company, or others following an accident. Stick to facts and record your memory of the events so you can be consistent in your story.
- Speaking to insurance adjusters: Insurance adjusters may seem friendly, but they are not on your side. Politely refer them to your lawyer if they contact you for a statement.
- Posting on social media: Lawyers for the defendant and their insurer will scour social media for any evidence that may contradict your statements. Even seemingly harmless posts could be used against you. If possible, avoid using social media until after your claim is completed.
While these are three of the most common ways people damage their cases, other situations could arise. If you are ever in doubt about what you should do after a crash, consult your lawyer before taking further action.
What Can a Wisconsin Car Accident Attorney Do for You?
If you’ve been hurt in a Wisconsin auto accident, Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm can provide the reliable legal counsel you need. Our compassionate and helpful lawyers are here to help you navigate the complex personal injury claim process so you can recover the maximum compensation you deserve. Contact our office today at 608-448-6242 to schedule a free case evaluation.