Car crashes are stressful enough, but the aftermath can cause even more stress and anxiety if you do not know what steps to take to defend your rights and recover compensation for all of the damages you have suffered.
The car crash attorneys at O’Connor, Acciani & Levy have decades of combined experience helping victims of car crashes. There are several things we advise victims to do after an accident.
Immediately After The Crash
In the immediate aftermath of any type of car crash, you should:
- Stay calm, taking a few deep breaths if necessary
- If you have any passengers, try to keep them calm as well
- If possible, move your car out of traffic to the shoulder or another safe place
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Check for any injuries so you can report them to emergency responders when they arrive
- If anyone is unconscious or complains of back or neck pain, do not move them until help arrives
- Set up cones or warning triangles around your vehicle if you have them
- Stay alert because other drivers might not see you
- Do not get angry or yell and scream at the other driver
- If the other driver walks or runs toward you and begins yelling and screaming, stay in your vehicle
- If you feel like you are in danger, wait until the police arrive
Your first concern after a car accident is to obtain medical treatment immediately, even if you do not feel pain or notice any injuries. It might take several minutes, hours or days for symptoms to present themselves. The body releases adrenaline and cortisol after a highly stressful situation like a car crash, which can mask symptoms of an injury.
Seeking treatment immediately is also important because waiting could arouse suspicion with insurance adjusters and others in the legal process about whether your injuries were caused by the accident.
The other purpose of obtaining medical care is that medical professionals will document all of the injuries you suffered in the accident. This will be crucial information if you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit to obtain compensation.
Report The Accident
Immediately after an automobile accident, call 911 to report it. First responders will arrive to provide medical care to motorists and passengers in need, and law enforcement officers will begin to investigate the accident.
The police officer at the scene will file a report, which will be another crucial piece of evidence if you hope to obtain compensation from the at-fault driver. Ask the officer how you can obtain a copy for your records and make a note of the officer’s name and badge number.
If the accident resulted in injuries or property damage in excess of $400, you must submit a copy of the police report with a vehicle crash report to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles within six months of the accident. You must also include an itemized estimate or bill for the property damage suffered.
If the other driver was uninsured and you want his or her driving privileges suspended, you need to provide the following information about the owner of the damaged vehicle, driver of the damaged vehicle, owner of the vehicle to be suspended and the driver to be suspended:
- Make, model and year of vehicle
- License plate number
- Date of birth
- Driver license number
- Social Security number
Collect Evidence From The Accident Scene
Collect insurance and contact information from the other person or people who were involved in the accident, including drivers and passengers.
You should also collect contact information and statements from eyewitnesses to the crash. This could be the corroborating evidence you need to obtain fair compensation from an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Take pictures of the scene to document:
- Damage to both vehicles
- The roadway, intersection and traffic signs
- Dangerous road conditions
- Injuries suffered by you and your passengers
Your insurance company may have a deadline for submitting a car accident claim. You do not want to risk missing the deadline, so you should file a claim right away.
Ohio uses a fault system for car accidents, which means the at-fault driver is responsible for all damages caused by the accident.
You can pursue compensation by filing an insurance claim with your insurer or the insurer of the at-fault driver. If you contact your insurance company, they will likely seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
Regardless of which insurance company you contact, watch what you say. Do not:
- Admit fault – If you admit fault, the insurance company could deny any compensation.
- Describe your injuries and the amount of physical pain you are experiencing – Doctors, medical reports and your attorney can do a much better job of explaining this. Also, people have a tendency to minimize pain right after an accident, which could hurt your claim.
- Agree to a recorded or written statement – You should only do this after consulting an experienced attorney. The problem with written or recorded statements is that they limit your claim. You need to be sure that whatever limits are placed on your claim are fair and reasonable given the damages you have experienced.
- Agree to a settlement right away – There is no need to settle the claim right away. You need to make sure all of your injuries are treated and you know the full extent of the damages you have experienced.
Contact An Auto Accident Injury Attorney
Car accident victims are often afraid to contact an attorney because they think it costs money and result in a lawsuit. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
The attorneys at our firm offer a free, no obligation legal consultation so you can discuss your legal options without worrying about how to pay for the meeting. We also do not charge for our services unless there is a favorable resolution.
Our lawyers can help guide you through every step of the legal process. We can advise you if you should settle your claim by obtaining insurance compensation or filing a personal injury lawsuit. Our priority is to obtain all of the compensation you deserve.