What you do after a car accident can significantly impact your rights and options for recovery. By knowing what to do – and what not to do – after a crash, you can increase your likelihood of obtaining the maximum compensation possible for your physical, psychological, and financial injuries. However, no matter the aftermath of a crash, our Illinois car accident lawyers of The Cates Law Firm, LLC are here to help.
Call 618-277-3644 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation to discuss your car accident and how we can help.
11 Steps to Take After a Crash
If you are in an accident, here are the steps you should take to protect yourself:
- Assess your physical condition. Immediately following a collision, take a moment to assess how you feel. Are you in a great deal of pain? Do you believe you have any broken bones? Are you bleeding? What areas of your body are causing you pain? If you are hurt, try not to move and call 911, if possible. You should only leave your vehicle if you are in danger or if you are physically able to do so without pain.
- Check on your passengers. Once you have evaluated your own physical condition and needs, check on your passengers. If they are injured and you are OK, provide as much first aid as you can, and if possible, call 911.
- Decide whether or not to leave the car. If you and your passengers are relatively unscathed, your next step is to determine whether you should leave the vehicle or not. If there is smoke in the vehicle or you can tell it is on fire, you should all try and leave the vehicle as quickly and safely as possible. If you are safe in the vehicle, take a minute to review the surroundings outside. Do not rush out of a door and into traffic.
- Get to safety. Once you are out of the vehicle, get to the safest place possible. This is usually the side of the road, ditch or a median. If you can go behind a guardrail, do so.
- Document the scene. If you or a passenger are capable of doing so safely, start to document the aftermath of the accident by taking photos and video with your smartphone. Try and take photos and video from different angles and distances to gain as much information as possible.
- Exchange information. If everyone is capable of doing so, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Try and get their name, address, phone number, license number, insurance provider, and policy number. If there were passengers in the other car, see if you can get their names and contact information.
- Keep conversation with the other driver to a minimum. While you should exchange information with the other driver, you should try and keep conversation to a minimum. Do not discuss what happened, apologize, or admit fault in any way. You should also not discuss whether or not you are injured with the other driver or nearby witnesses. A common question at the scene of an accident is, “Are you okay?” Most people in that moment will instinctively say yes. Unfortunately, you often will not know the full extent of your injuries immediately after a crash, and these types of statements at the scene can cause you issues later with insurance companies.
- Cooperate with the police. Cooperate with the police and other emergency personnel once they arrive. You will need to provide your name, information, and a description of the events for the police report. No matter how angry you are because of the accident, do not take it out on the emergency responders. Be as calm and clear while speaking with them as you can. Also, do not apologize or say anything that makes you sound like you are taking responsibility for the accident.
- Obtain medical care. Even if you think you avoided serious injury, do not forgo a medical check. You should have paramedics look you over or take you to the hospital. Alternatively, go to your primary care physician as soon as possible after the accident. Also, if your pain or other symptoms worsen over the next day or so, do not hesitate to go to the emergency room.
- Notify your insurer as soon as possible. Once you are free to leave the scene of the accident or after you have received medical care, notify your own auto insurer of the accident and a potential claim against your policy.
- Contact an attorney. If you were or a loved one was injured in a car accident, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate an insurance claim, or if necessary, move forward with a personal injury lawsuit.
If You Were Seriously Injured in a Crash
If you were significantly injured in a car accident, you clearly will not have the capability to take most of these steps. That is okay. While you are receiving medical treatment, the police will investigate the accident, take witness statements, and create a report. After you are initially treated at a hospital, you or a family member can contact us at The Cates Law Firm, LLC and we will take the lead.
We understand you may have little-to-no information about what happened. That is why we will conduct an in-depth, independent investigation. Once we know the basics, we can help you move forward with an insurance claim and can advise you on the importance of filing a personal injury suit at the appropriate time. Filing suit may be the best way to obtain additional information about the crash and evidence of another party’s fault, and is the only option after you’ve reached a stalemate with the insurance company.
Illinois Car Accident Lawyers at The Cates Law Firm, LLC Are Here to Help
If you or a loved one were injured in a crash, your best chance of obtaining the compensation you deserve is through working with an experienced car accident attorney.
At The Cates Law Firm, LLC, we are well-versed in the complications that arise after motor vehicle collisions. We are here to protect your rights, advocate on your behalf with insurers, and fight for your right to compensation. We will walk you through an insurance claim or lawsuit step by step, ensuring you are always aware of what is going on and making the best decisions for you and your family.
Contact us online or call 618-277-3644 to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Swansea, Illinois, we represent clients across Southern Illinois and the Metro East region, from St. Louis to the Indiana border, including the communities of Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.