Steps To Take After a Car Accident
Attorney John Williams walks you through what to do after a crash
From fender benders to serious crashes, car accidents are common in New Orleans. According to a report by carinsurance.com, Louisiana has been listed as one of the top states for the worst drivers – second only to California. That’s not something we should be happy about, but it is reality.
Knowing what to do immediately after a car accident can save you a lot of trouble, especially if the crash was not your fault and you or a loved one sustained an injury. There are often critical pieces of evidence at the crash scene that will help your cause if you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or decide to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Below, attorney John S. Williams has created a helpful checklist to guide you through each step of the process – from calling the police at the crash scene to protecting your legal rights with a car accident lawyer. If you were injured in an accident due to negligence and need help getting the compensation you’re entitled to, call The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC right away. John is a caring and compassionate personal injury lawyer who will aggressively advocate for your best interests and fight for what’s right, what’s fair and what’s just.
10 steps you should take after a car accident
Maybe you were rear-ended by someone texting and driving. It could be that you were involved in a scary highway crash when another driver lost control of their vehicle because they were speeding. No matter what type of car accident you were in, it’s normal to experience shock and confusion immediately after a crash.
While it can be tough to gather your bearings and focus on what you need to do, it’s important to remember that the steps you take now, in the moments right after your crash, can be critical to your case if you need to recover compensation for your damages.
If you get into an accident with another car, do your best to breathe and remain calm. If you’re healthy enough to do so, you should then:
- Call 911. First and foremost, if you or anyone else involved in the crash needs emergency medical attention, that should be your top priority. Call the police right away and let them know you need an ambulance. Otherwise, activate your car’s hazard lights to alert other drivers there’s been a crash, get yourself out of harm’s way, call the police, and wait for them to arrive. Under Louisiana law, you must report any accident that results in the injury or death of a person. You’re also required to report the crash if there’s more than $500 worth of property damage. If the other driver flees the crash scene and you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, give police as much information about the driver and their vehicle as possible. Do not attempt to chase after the other driver.
- Exchange information. You will need to get the name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number and insurance company information of every driver involved in the crash. You can provide this information, as well, but try not to say too much else at the crash scene. Even saying something like “I’m sorry” can be understood as an admission of fault.
- Take lots of pictures. Photographic evidence is often hard to argue against, so take as many pictures and/or videos of the crash scene with your phone as you can. Important things to capture include the position of the vehicles involved in the crash, property damage, skid marks, street signs, traffic signals, road debris, construction, visible injuries and anything else you think might tell the story of what caused your accident.
- Seek out eyewitnesses. There’s a good chance that someone witnessed your accident and saw how it happened. If other drivers or pedestrians come to assist you at the crash scene, ask if anyone saw what happened. If so, see if you can get them to stay and talk to the police. Also get their name and contact information. Look around you, too. Traffic cameras are everywhere these days, and one may have captured your crash on video. Another driver may have recorded your accident on a dashcam. If so, ask them to save the video and then get their name and contact information
- Get medical attention. It goes without saying that if you are in pain or visibly injured immediately after your accident, you should get transported to the ER right away, but some injuries have delayed onset symptoms that can be masked by adrenaline. You may leave the crash scene, go home, and then days later start to feel the impact of the collision on your body. That’s why it’s wise to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible – even if you don’t feel injured. Common car accident injuries include whiplash, concussion, back injuries, and other ailments that may require extensive treatment, such as surgery or long-term care. Remember, if you wait too long to seek medical care after a car accident, the insurance company may question the severity of your injury.
- Keep a written record. Before your memory fades, write down everything you can remember about your car accident, including the date, time, location, etc. You should also document your injuries by writing down what pain and symptoms you’re experiencing, the dates of your doctor appointments, and what treatment has been prescribed to you. Store this information and any bills/invoices that arise from your accident together in a file for safekeeping.
- Call your insurance company. You need to notify your insurance company that you were in a car accident, but it’s critical that you don’t give a recorded statement just yet or say anything that could be construed as an admission of fault. Be truthful with them, but don’t go into too much detail. Stick to the basic facts of what you know happened. Anything you say could be used against you – even by your own insurance company.
- Get a copy of the police accident report. The police officer who responded to your crash scene is required to generate an official police accident report. This report is an important document that often contains critical pieces of information, such as who the officer believes is responsible for the crash. You can obtain a copy of your accident report online from buycrash.com or by visiting the records division at the New Orleans Police Department in person.
Don’t know how to read your Louisiana accident report? Click here for a breakdown on what it all means.
- Don’t talk about your accident. Remember, anything you say can be used against you. This applies to things you post online too, especially on social media. If the other driver’s insurance company or a lawyer contacts you about the accident, it’s best not to say anything to them without first consulting with an attorney of your own.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. The process of recovering compensation for damages that arise from a car accident isn’t always as easy as it should be. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate this process, accurately calculate the true cost of your damages, and work to get you the compensation you deserve. Almost every personal injury law firm offers a free consultation, which means it costs nothing to let a lawyer review the details of your case and explain your options.
Let Attorney John Williams be the person you can call
If you were injured or a loved one died in an accident caused by someone else, it’s important to have a personal injury lawyer on your side that you know you can trust. Attorney John Williams has a reputation for being a man of great character and integrity. He treats clients like family and takes pride in fighting for the rights of others. Find out how John can help you.
Located on Canal Street, The Law Offices of John S. Williams serves clients in New Orleans and offers legal representation on a contingency fee basis. In other words, that means you don’t pay us anything unless we make a financial recovery in your case. Contact us today to learn more.