Steps to Take After a Car Accident
No one expects to be in a motor vehicle accident. When it happens, most people experience shock which can cloud your judgment. Taking the right steps after a collision can have a significant impact on your physical recovery, and your ability to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver or his insurance company. If you find yourself in this situation, consider doing the following:
Immediately After the Accident
1. Check on everyone and call for help
Check on everyone involved in the accident and call 911. The police will come and investigate. After their investigation is complete, before leaving the scene make sure to request the incident number so you can request a copy of the police report.
2. Gather information
Take photographs of your vehicle, the other vehicles involved, and the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, not all police officers are trained in accident reconstruction which means they don’t always take photographs or obtain measurements. You should document the physical damage of all cars involved and any skid marks on the road. Your photographs may be useful to an accident reconstructionist hired by your car accident attorney. If there are witnesses, ask for their names and telephone numbers. Make sure exchange insurance information with the other driver(s).
3. The problem with apologizing
It’s human nature to want to apologize, even for things that aren’t our fault. But saying “I’m sorry” before a car accident investigation is complete can seriously damage your claim. Insurance companies often mischaracterize this expression of compassion as an admission of guilt. Wait until the police have finished investigating and determine who caused the accident before you apologize.
Addressing Your Injuries After the Crash
After the investigation is complete, there are additional steps you should take.
1. Notify your insurance company
Contact your insurance agent to report the accident. If you don’t have an insurance agent, contact your insurance company directly. Avoid signing anything or releasing your rights until you’ve contacted an experienced motor vehicle attorney.
2. Write down what you recall about the incident
While your memory is still fresh, jot down what you remember about the accident. What was happening before impact? What happened immediately after? What direction were the cars traveling? What did you notice, and when? Make note of the weather, time of day, and traffic conditions immediately preceding the collision.
3. Follow doctor’s orders
Make sure to follow the advice of your medical treatment providers. This includes making appointments with other specialists referred by your primary care physician. Attend physical therapy as directed, complete home exercises to help with your recovery, and prioritize attending follow up appointments.
4. Keep records
Keep a log of the medical providers that you see, prescription medications (including the dosage), doctor’s visits, and notes about each appointment. Take photographs of your injuries immediately after the accident and again as they begin to heal. Make notes of any activities you can no longer do as a result of the accident, such as outdoor activities, athletics, holding your children or grandchildren, chores around the house, and any physical limitations that interfere with your employment.
5. Call a Michigan motor vehicle accident attorney
There are time limits to file a car accident claim under Michigan law. Typically, you have three years after the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver, but this may differ depending on the facts and circumstances involved. Regardless of the type of accident, don’t wait to call our experienced attorneys to discuss your options.