If you were in an auto accident, you might have no experience knowing what to do next. Car wrecks, insurance claims, and personal injury lawsuits are not the kinds of things people want to get involved with. However, there are some simple steps you can take after an accident to put yourself in a good position to get compensation and get the help you need. This is where the help of an experienced South Carolina personal injury lawyer can help.
The immediate aftermath is crucial, and the steps you take next will help you later with your case. This article is designed to help you answer some of the basic questions you’ll have after a car wreck and to give you some tips on what to do in the immediate aftermath and the coming days after a car crash.
What to Do Immediately After the Accident
Right after the accident, there are important steps to take. Of course, you will need to get yourself safe – and if you are too injured to take any of these steps, focus on recovery first. Here are the important steps to take right after a car crash in South Carolina:
Seek Medical Help
The most important thing to do is take care of your injuries. If you can, call 911 and get an ambulance to come to the accident scene. If you need to go to the emergency room or the EMTs suggest you get follow-up care with your own doctor, follow their recommendations. Many injuries, like head injuries and back/neck injuries, are not apparent right away. You should get medical attention to avoid these injuries suddenly becoming worse. Documenting the injuries is also important.
After you seek medical care, you may be able to stay at the scene and deal with some of the other immediate steps. If not, worry about your medical care first and foremost.
Contact the Police
The police will usually respond to an accident when an ambulance is called. If not, request a police presence when you call 911. First, this can help protect you if the other driver is aggressive or intoxicated. Second, a police report is incredibly helpful for your car accident case.
When the police arrive at the scene of an accident, they will document a lot of what happened. Their police report will state who was involved, give the names of any witnesses, provide information on the cars that were involved, and state any notes about the weather, lighting, and other conditions in the area. You can get a copy of this report to help you and your Columbia car accident lawyer begin to build your case.
Photograph the Accident Scene and Vehicles
Juries will not be able to see the accident and will have to rely on your story and the evidence you can bring in. Photos of the accident scene will show them how serious your accident was. Photos of the vehicle damage and any injuries you suffered will also help show exactly how badly you were hurt.
Photos of the accident scene can also help the jury see who was at fault. These photos can show what was visible, whether traffic lights and signs were posted, and where the cars were located. Photos of skid marks (or the lack of skid marks) can help indicate how fast cars were going and whether they attempted to stop before the crash. Photos of trees and tall roadside grass potentially blocking your view of oncoming cars will also be helpful (if such features were present in your accident case).
Exchange Insurance Information with the Other Driver
The law requires you to exchange info with the other driver after a crash. This includes your personal information so they can contact you and know who was involved. It also includes your insurance information, including the policy number and other relevant information from your insurance card. Make sure to get their info as well, since their insurance company should be the one to pay for your damages and injuries if the other driver was at fault.
Write Down the Names of Witnesses and Healthcare Providers
Anyone who potentially saw the accident can be helpful to talk to later to build your case. Bystanders, drivers in other cars, and uninjured passengers can all help explain your story. The police might not have done a good job of documenting who saw the accident, so this information might be lacking in their report. Make sure to document this info yourself as well.
Knowing who treated you at the scene can also help you provide information and statements from them later. If the EMTs who treated you at the scene or doctors who treated you in the ER can testify about your injuries, that can be helpful.
What to Do in the Days After the Accident
The immediate aftermath of a crash is crucial, but what you do next is also important. These steps can help you build your case and succeed in a compensation claim.
Find Out What Kind of Insurance You Have
No-fault insurance covers you and your passengers if you are injured in an accident regardless of who was at fault for the accident. No-fault insurance is also called personal injury protection insurance, personal injury coverage, pip coverage, or pip insurance. Some states require it. In other states, it is optional or not available. If you are involved in a car accident, you’ll want to know what kind of coverage you have.
For more information on what no-fault insurance covers, the limits, and what it doesn’t cover, please check with your auto insurance company.
Most states are “fault” states and require drivers to have liability insurance that covers other people’s injuries and property damage if they are at fault in a car crash, at least up to a predetermined liability limit.
The at-fault driver is liable to cover injuries or property damage to anyone else who was harmed by the accident. These damages may include property damage, medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, funeral costs, and other costs.
In some states, the driver who was not at fault can file a personal injury case against the at-fault driver and may be awarded money damages. But in a no-fault car insurance state, there are only certain situations where the at-fault driver can be sued.
If you were involved in a car accident, be sure to check with your auto insurance company and your attorney. Find out about the type of coverage you need in your state and how to protect yourself from someone else’s personal injury claim. Contact our South Carolina car accident lawyer or South Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney for more information.
Photograph the Injuries
Photos of your injuries can show the jury how bad they were and document how the healing process progressed. This can give the jury insight into how much your injuries are worth. Daily video logs of your injuries can also be helpful, as showing the jury your range of motion or a limp in a video is more effective than using a still image.
Journal About Your Injuries
Just as photos can help show the physical state of the injuries, journaling about your injuries can help show the mental and emotional side of your damages. Your statements and evaluations of how the pain feels, how your abilities have been affected, and how you feel about your injuries can all help prove pain and suffering damages later. Write down this information or make daily recordings about your healing process.
Hire a Great Personal Injury Lawyer
Without a lawyer, you may be led astray by insurance companies and defense lawyers. Make sure to have a South Carolina car accident lawyer on your side to help evaluate your injuries, put a value on your damages, and fight to get those damages compensated through an insurance claim or injury lawsuit.