Auto accidents can be terrifying and many people are in shock after one happens. There may be terrible injuries, extensive property damage, extreme emotional responses, and overall, a significant amount of stress. It is important to keep your cool at times like this, avoid expressing anger for the other driver or panicking about the injuries. Whether it is you who are injured or someone else, the best thing you can do is make every effort to remain as calm as possible, and keep a clear head to make sure that you take all of the appropriate steps and don’t make any mistakes. How you handle the aftermath of an auto accident in Columbus, Ohio could be the difference between life and death, the difference between an arrest and freedom, or the difference between recovering compensation and being left with no compensation at all. Following are the most important things you need to do and steps to take, though all of them are going to be easier and more effective if you can remain calm.
Stop Your Vehicle and Remain at the Scene of the Accident
It is important to stop your vehicle when an auto accident has occurred, and remain at the scene until you have exchanged information with the other driver and/or until the police arrive. If the damage is minor, you may think that you don’t have to stop, but you do. Otherwise, you could be charged with a hit and run. If there is serious damage or injuries, you must notify the police and wait for them to arrive before leaving.
Check Everyone for Injuries and Call for Help
It is essential to make sure that nobody is injured after an auto accident. If someone is injured, you must provide any help that you can, such as first aid, and call for emergency medical assistance. You can do this by dialing 911 and explaining what happened and where you are located for the emergency responders to reach you quickly and be prepared. Do not move anyone who is injured unless it is absolutely necessary. If, for example, the vehicle is on fire, you may need to move the person. However, if you don’t have to move them, you shouldn’t, because doing so could lead to more serious injuries, including paralysis or death.
Exchange Contact and Insurance Information with the Other Drivers
You should get the contact information and insurance details of all other drivers who are involved in the accident. If you are feeling angry with their driving behavior, then you should take a moment to calm yourself down before speaking to them, and speak with civility and kindness. Expressing your anger at this time can only make the situation worse. If the other driver is at-fault, they will face consequences and their insurance will end up covering your damages. At the same time, you should not apologize to anyone, even if you think you are at fault or if you simply think it’s the appropriate thing to say. It isn’t, and it could make it look like you are acknowledging fault, even if it isn’t your fault.
Gather Evidence at the Scene of the Accident
You can gather evidence at the scene of the accident by taking photos of all damage, the position of the vehicles, and injuries. You might even get pictures of traffic signs, skid marks on the road, and anything else that could be relevant. Further, you can get the contact information of any witnesses who are there, before they decide to leave. Their statements may be important evidence at later date, when it comes time to establish negligence.
Contact Your Own Insurance Company to Report the Incident
When you purchase auto insurance, you make an agreement that you will notify the company of any auto accidents. Thus, you should contact your insurance company right away to let them know what happened. You should discuss the facts and be honest. If you are not completely honest or if you fail to notify your insurance company, you might end up without coverage.
Maintain Adequate Records of Medical Care and Lost Wages
It is important to be organized and maintain records of all medical care that you receive as well as your lost wages from time off of work in recovery. These records will be necessary when it comes time to prove the value of your damages and recover compensation. You should make a note of all medical professionals, chiropractors, surgeons, physical therapists, prescriptions, and any other medical information that is relevant to your injuries. You should also have evidence of your usual income and a notice from your employer that indicates how much time you were out of work because of your injuries. Hold onto any bills that you receive and receipts for medical treatment and prescriptions that are related to your injuries.
Get an Estimate of the Value of Your Property Damage
You should also get a mechanic to estimate the value of your property damage and what it will cost to repair that damage if it can be repaired. It is a good idea to get two or more estimates from two or more different sources, so that you can be confident in the value of your damages.
Be Careful When Discussing Your Auto Accident with Others
You want to be particularly careful about discussing your auto accident with others, including the police, friends, family, and the auto insurance company of the other driver. Mostly, you want to avoid discussing fault or the severity of your injuries and limitations.
Don’t Accept the First Settlement Offer from an Insurance Claims Adjuster
In many cases, the auto insurance claims adjuster of the other driver will contact you right away to offer a settlement. This is almost always going to be far less than what you are owed. Do not accept a settlement offer without talking it over with a Columbus, Ohio auto accident attorney.
Call the Chester Law Group for a Free Consultation
The best thing to do after an auto accident in Columbus, Ohio is to seek a free consultation of your claim with an experienced Ohio car crash lawyer, like those at the Chester Law Group. In some cases, you may not need a lawyer to settle your claim, but it doesn’t hurt to get that free consultation to discuss your options and the potential value of your claim.