If you have ever experienced a car accident, you understand the feeling of overwhelming panic that comes when you are unsure of what your next steps should be. When this happens, emotions can be at an all-time high. Remaining calm and keeping these important actions in mind can help you determine how to effectively move forward.
Steps to Take After An Accident1. Stay at the Scene
The first step you should immediately take following a car accident is to stay on scene. If someone has been seriously injured or significant damage has occurred to either car, leaving the scene could result in criminal penalties such as charges, a suspended license or even jail time for you and the other passengers. There are multiple reasons that could lead to someone deciding to leave the scene. Some people may feel worried for their safety, are scared of being caught, or may be afraid of conviction for their part in the accident. Staying at the scene can help preserve the accident so anyone who needs to investigate can look at what happened in detail.2. Check on Passengers Safety
Passenger safety is crucial and is typically the most immediate thought that comes to mind after an accident. After checking yourself for injuries, check on the other passengers in the vehicle to make sure they do not need help or medical assistance. If you and the others involved do not notice any injuries, calling for medical attention right away can still prove to be an important and necessary step. This is because some injuries can often take days or weeks for symptoms to become present.
If the accident was minor and you were not injured, drive your car to a safety zone so that you do not obstruct traffic. If the crash was more severe, try to leave the vehicles where they are. Injuries should be carefully considered at this time. Removing passengers with severe injuries could actually do more harm than good. It is important to allow medical professionals to assess the situation to determine whether someone is capable of being moved. If you are on a busy street or highway, try setting up markers to notify oncoming traffic of the accident.3. Call the Police/Exchange Information
After an accident, by law, you are required to call the police so emergency personnel can be dispatched immediately. Police officers create an accident report that contains the details of the incident which can be useful for future claims.
It is also important to exchange information with any other drivers. This information can include names, numbers, and other basic insurance information. This will allow you to get in touch with those involved for reasons like insurance claims.4. Do Not Admit Fault
Because of the situation, it can be easy to feel immediate fault following a car accident even if it is untrue. Regardless of fault, try not to admit guilt unintentionally because it may not be clear what occurred until the police come to the scene. A good rule to follow is to wait for the police to disclose what happened in the accident.
Alabama follows a “contributory negligence” rule that states you cannot receive any compensation for damages if you are found to have any fault in causing the accident. This rule makes it crucial to stay silent at the scene to avoid false claims that could take place in the future.5. Inform your Insurance Company
Your next step after talking to the police is to inform your insurance company of the incident. Collect and record as much information about the accident as possible from videos and pictures. This can help the insurance company understand the extent of the accident and show any proof of injuries or car damages rather than relying on only the report. Gathering vehicle information such as year, make, and license plate number can also prove to be useful to insurance companies as they file your claim.
You should be sure to ask your insurance company about obtaining your property damage valuation after the report is filed. This includes anything that was damaged in the car wreck such as your car and personal property. Be prepared to talk to the insurance company more than once because they will most likely have to follow their own procedures as well and investigate the accident.6. Consider Hiring an Attorney
If you are unhappy and feel like the other party is taking advantage of the accident to receive unfair compensation, you should consider hiring an attorney. You can maximize benefits for yourself and get an expert in the field that can help defend you. Your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit. With this, you can recover the damages that an insurance settlement may not provide to you.
In Alabama, there is a statute of limitations that states you have two years from the time of the accident to file a lawsuit to receive compensation. In the chance that you are found guilty of causing a fault in the accident, you are responsible for providing the victim with compensation for damages that are outside your insurance policy limit.
How We Can Help
At Barfoot and Schoettker, we understand how frustrating a car accident can be when it comes to personal injuries and car damages. We can protect the rights that you are entitled to. We are not afraid to fight insurance companies for you. Our team of experienced car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping you easily transition back into your everyday life. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your claim.