The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be confusing, so it’s a good idea to know what to do before it happens. Here are five things to remember in the wake of a motor accident.
Call the Police
Whether it’s a serious accident or a minor one, contact the police so that they can observe the scene, call for any necessary medical help and make a report. A police report is one of the most important factors in determining who is at fault in the accident.
Document Everything at the Scene of the Accident
Yes, everything. The police report is not guaranteed to include everything you need, so collect as much documentation as you can yourself. Get the names and contact information of the other driver or drivers, any witnesses and the employer if the other driver was on the road for their job.
Take down the plate numbers of every vehicle involved in the accident, as well as insurance information and driver’s license numbers. Take pictures of the location and damage of all the vehicles, the location of street signs and signals, the condition of the road, and any skid marks or other visible evidence. If there were witnesses, ask around and see if anyone took pictures of the accident, and if they did, ask for copies.
Keep gathering documentation in the hours and days following the accident. If your car requires repairs, keep copies of those records, and try to collect any records of repairs made before the accident, since these can help establish the value of the car. Note down any medical attention you received, along with the date, cost and attending physician of every appointment.
Collect all the relevant medical records and medical bills from the hospital, doctor or physical therapist. If there is any documentation of lost wages, either due to the accident itself or to medical treatment later, gather this information as well.
Go to a Hospital
If you are in an accident, go to a hospital or see a doctor right away. An accident can be incredibly disorienting, so check yourself and any passengers for less obvious injuries. Even if you feel all-right in general, there may be injuries that don’t start to hurt for several minutes or even hours after the accident. Injured joints, muscles and parts of the spine, as well as some kinds of internal injuries, may not cause pain for days or weeks.
Getting medical attention from the start can prevent problems down the line, and the sooner you start any treatment, the sooner you can recover. The doctor or hospital will document your injuries much more thoroughly than you could yourself, and a medical report will be more credible evidence for any investigation. In the days and weeks following the accident, attend any doctor’s appointment or physical therapy session your doctor recommends: if you skip out on treatment, it’s easier for an insurance company to argue that you weren’t really hurt.
Get Legal Help
A competent lawyer will be able to advise you on your options, keep your medical costs from becoming unreasonable, help you collect evidence and navigate any legal situations that arise. A local lawyer will be familiar with the specific laws and statute of limitations that apply in Oklahoma, including fault laws and minimum coverage laws. He or she will also represent you to the insurance company, and can answer any questions you have about the process of getting compensation.