Car accidents aren’t unusual, but they’re always an unpleasant shock. If you get into an accident, it takes all of your focus to get treatment for your injuries and figure out how you’re going to repair your vehicle. Or, if you wake up days later in the hospital, you might wonder what happened and how you ended up in the hospital. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, this post tells you what to do to get back on your feet.
When a Car Accident Incapacitates You
When someone has a severe car accident and ends up in the hospital, figuring out what to do next usually falls to their loved ones. Family members can’t always do much at the accident scene. The police most likely won’t let them near the scene. If they get to the scene, they should take pictures of the accident and find out from officers how to get a copy of the police report.
The accident victim’s family should then:
- Speak to the accident victim’s doctors to learn about the extent of their loved one’s injuries.
- Let the doctors know that they will contact a car accident lawyer on behalf of their loved one.
- Contact a car accident attorney for a free case evaluation.
- Obtain a copy of the police report.
- Make arrangements to obtain copies of medical records. If the doctors do not allow family members access to the accident victim’s medical records, they should let their car accident lawyer know so that the attorney can help them get access to their loved one’s medical records. Medical records are necessary for pursuing a car accident claim against whomever caused the accident.
- Locate the accident victim’s medical directives and power of attorney, if they have them. Medical directives allow named representatives to make certain decisions about the accident victim’s medical care if they cannot make those decisions for themselves. A power of attorney gives a named representative permission to handle certain financial obligations for the accident victim.
Do not wait until your loved one recovers before taking action. Evidence tends to disappear soon after an accident. Should your lawyer need to investigate the accident to prepare for a car accident lawsuit, it is much easier for them to do so when memories and evidence are still fresh.
When a Car Accident Kills a Loved One
After a car accident that kills a loved one, their family members are usually overwhelmed with grieving, making funeral and burial arrangements, and dealing with family and friends. However, if someone else caused the car accident, family members should consider pursuing a wrongful death case against the at-fault party. Nothing can take away the pain of losing a loved one, but a wrongful death claim can potentially reduce the financial stress a family may feel after their loved one’s death.
Thus, if family members believe that someone else caused the accident, they should:
- Contact a car accident lawyer who has experience with wrongful death as soon as possible.
- Obtain a copy of the police report. Your attorney can do this for you.
- Obtain the deceased’s final medical records related to the accident, if any. The attorney can do this as well, if needed.
- Locate the deceased’s will, if they had one. If they did not, a probate court will help the family distribute the deceased’s assets according to state law. Family members should seek the help of a local, experienced probate attorney with this process. The family should let the probate attorney know if they have also hired a car accident lawyer to pursue a wrongful death case against whomever caused the car accident, and should put both lawyers in touch with one another.
When a Car Accident Injures You
If you are in a car accident, and you are uninjured enough to get up and move around without injuring yourself further, you should:
- Check on others involved in the accident, unless their road rage was the cause of the accident. If they are still enraged, it is better to stay away from them.
- Call first responders.
- Obtain the contact information, insurance information, and registration information from others involved in the accident. It’s best to avoid speaking with them about the accident, however, as what you say could be used against you if you or the other person decides to file a car accident claim.
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses.
- Take photos of the accident scene. Be sure to take photos of skid marks and damaged property, such as mailboxes, fences, and other property.
- Allow emergency medical technicians to check you over, even if you think your injuries are minor. You might have injuries that you don’t feel right away because of the adrenaline coursing through your body after a car accident.
- If you are uninjured enough to participate in the police investigation, you must respond to the police officer’s questions, but it’s best to keep your answers short and only describe the facts as you remember them, rather than offering opinions about what you think might have happened. This will also serve to protect you if you or the other person decides to pursue a car accident claim.
- When the police release you from the scene, go to the emergency room to get a thorough checkup. Let doctors know you were in an accident and that you would like to be checked thoroughly.
- Call your insurance company to let them know you were in an accident. The only information you should give the representative is your name, contact information, the date and location of the accident. Before you provide the insurance company with any additional information about the accident, you should consider hiring a car accident attorney. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, so they are often very resistant to paying out claims, and may find a reason to deny your claim, even if it is entirely valid. An attorney can help.
- Call a car accident lawyer to pursue compensation. In fact, a car accident lawyer can complete many of the non-medical tasks listed above, including calling the insurance company and collecting evidence, then putting together a claim for the damages you sustained.