There are several steps to take immediately following a minor car accident. First, always pull to safety but call the police immediately and stay at the scene until they arrive. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident, sure to get immediate treatment even in minor cases which can result in an injury. Contact your own insurance company and a personal injury attorney if there are injuries. At Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers, we offer a free consultation.
Being in a car accident is a horrible experience for anyone, and it’s always going to bring lots of stress and confusion for those involved. If you’ve been in a car accident and are scared and unsure what to do, you’re not alone. And if you’re just here to prepare for the possibility of an accident and find out what you’ll need to do if the time arises, you’re in the right place.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll go through the steps you’ll need to take immediately following a minor car accident. If you can follow these steps, you’ll be able to recover more quickly and be better prepared for dealing with a personal injury case. These are the steps we’ll go through below:
- Stay Calm
- Don’t Leave the Scene
- Move Your Vehicle Close By For Safety If Needed
- Turn On Your Hazard Lights
- Document the Scene
- Call the Police
- Exchange Information
- Locate Witnesses
- Contact Your Insurer
- Don’t Assume Your Injuries Are Minor
- Never Admit Fault
- Get Medical Treatment If Hurt
- Call Your Own Insurance Company
The most important thing to do after a minor car accident is to stay calm. If your accident was minor, you and others involved are hopefully not too badly injured. You should be able to take a moment to quiet your mind and remember the next steps you’ll need to take.
Don’t Leave the Scene
It may be tempting to flee after an accident, but you must remember that this is against the law. You have to stay at the scene of the accident until you’ve spoken to the other driver and the police and have made arrangements for any necessary future meetings with either party.
Move Your Vehicle
As soon as you’ve made sure you’re well enough to move around, you need to get your vehicle off the main road. You don’t want to remain there and risk impeding traffic or causing further accidents. Pull off as far to the side of the road as is possible.
Turn On Your Hazard Lights
In a similar vein, you always want to turn on your hazard lights when involved in an accident. As soon as you’ve stopped driving, put them on and leave them on while you move your vehicle and deal with others at the scene. This will alert other drivers that something is wrong and encourage them to stay out of the way.
Document the Scene
In Kentucky, you have two years after your accident to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver which can be longer due to PIP benefits. In Tennessee, you have one year after the accident to bring a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. In order to bring your claim within the proper time, you’ll need to make sure you have documented evidence.
The best way to document an accident scene is to take photos and get witness’ contact information. Start by taking photos of the scene, of any damage to vehicles, and of any serious injuries. In this way, you can make sure you have some solid evidence of the damage caused by the accident.
Alert the Police
In Kentucky, any accident that results in $500 or more in damage or causes personal injury must be reported to the police. In Tennessee, the accident must be reported if there is an injury or at least $50 in damage. In basically every case, a car accident will cause at least $500 in damages, which means you’re going to have to report the accident to the police.
An added benefit of notifying the police is that they can provide an official accident report. Accident reports are often extremely helpful when you’re dealing with a personal injury claim because they can provide official opinions and evidence of the cause of an accident.
After any car accident, you’ll need to exchange information with others involved. Start by exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver. If it was their fault, you’ll need to contact their insurance company. If there was an injury, call a personal injury attorney.
You will also want to exchange contact information with witnesses of the accident. That way, you can connect with them later on if you find that you need them to provide you with official statements in a personal injury claim.
Witnesses can be one of the most essential aspects of a personal injury claim. Even if you don’t plan to file a claim, you will probably want witness evidence to make sure no one tries to accuse you of causing an accident when it definitely wasn’t your fault.
As soon as you are able to, find the witnesses who have stopped along the road to help and ask them for their contact information and, if there’s time, for written statements. The police will probably take their statements as well, but it can be helpful for you to have a personal copy just in case.
Contact Your Insurer
Contacting your insurer is essential after any accident. You must report the accident so that you can start working on getting repairs to your vehicle as soon as possible. Even if you’re going to file a claim against the other driver, your insurance company will need to be aware that an accident occurred.
Plus, you may want to use certain benefits from your insurance (such as towing insurance or collision insurance) to get your car towed and repaired if the other driver’s insurance company takes a long time to respond to your claim.
In addition, Kentucky requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that they must use after an accident before suing anyone else responsible. PIP in Kentucky will pay medical bills and lost wages if there was an injury and MedPay in Tennessee. In Tennessee, drivers cannot be held responsible to pay for damages if they are less than 50% responsible for the crash. In Kentucky, a pure negligence state, you can sue if the defendant is only 10% or less negligent.
Take Care Of Yourself
While you may be concerned about others in the accident or about gathering evidence after your crash, it’s still essential that you look after yourself. Dealing with your injuries and getting the proper treatment is the most important step you can take after your crash.
Call an ambulance, if no one else has, and make sure you see your doctor as soon as possible. It’s essential to your recovery that you get all the care you need as soon as you can.
Don’t Assume Your Injuries Are Minor
In some cases, you may not notice the extent of your injuries right away. In fact, if you are in shock after a crash, you may be numbed to some pain and not notice certain injuries that could show up later. Internal bleeding, for example (sometimes caused by broken ribs, which may result from impact with an airbag), may not be immediately noticeable.
In the case of whiplash (a very common injury in car accidents) and other back or neck injuries, you may not feel as much pain initially as you do later on. For these reasons and more, it’s important that you get in to see a doctor as soon as you can to make sure you aren’t suffering from any hidden injuries. You’ll need to get these taken care of immediately, especially if you want to pursue a personal injury claim against the person at fault for your injuries.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
You may be tempted to get angry at the other driver or others standing around if they’re not acting as they should. If you’re frustrated with people, take a minute to breathe and refocus. You don’t want to lose your cool because this will end up making things worse and could lead to a more challenging case if the other driver feels that you’re already their enemy. Keep calm and collected to make sure you don’t cause unnecessary problems.
Never Admit Fault
Even if you think you did something wrong, never admit that to anyone out loud. This kind of statement can be easily used against you in court or in negotiations, which will make it harder for you to recover any compensation. Instead, make sure you state what happened clearly and without embellishment and let others decide who was at fault.
Don’t Be Unprepared
Now that you’ve read this article, you know a lot more about what to do after an accident. But you’ll still likely have lots of questions, and dealing with personal injury claims can be pretty complicated. In order to be truly and fully prepared for whatever comes at you after an accident, you’ll likely want to find support from a personal injury attorney.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers will be able to help you find and put together all the evidence you need in your case. They will also be able to support you through your recovery and help you negotiate with insurance companies for the compensation you deserve. If you’re not sure what to do after a minor car accident, always start by calling a personal injury lawyer for a free consultation.
We at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers are dedicated to helping our clients get the most from their personal injury claims. We’ll help you sort through the details and get the justice you deserve. If you need help, get in touch with us today.