A car accident is a shocking and traumatic experience for anyone. Thus, it is understandable that, during the first moments after the collision, you have no idea what to do. Some people are pushed by the adrenaline rush to take some kind of action.
However, as a Cleveland car accident lawyer knows, several of these actions may damage your future insurance claim. This is why we decided to share a list of the most important do’s and don’ts after a crash.
Do Call 911 and Report the Accident
All drivers in Ohio have a legal obligation to report any traffic accident which causes:
- Bodily injury
- At least $1,000 in property damage.
You should notify the police right away. If it’s not a minor fender bender, call 911 and ask for an ambulance. You may have suffered serious injuries and not realize it. The EMT crew will assess your condition and transport you to the nearest hospital for full diagnostic tests and treatment.
Even if you don’t go to the hospital, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Don’t Leave the Accident Scene Before Police Investigate
After reporting the Cleveland car accident, you must not leave the scene until police officers arrive to take photos, make measurements, collect evidence, and ask various questions.
The officers are trained to observe minute details, such as the likelihood that one of the drivers was speeding based on the length of the skid marks. Also, the police officers will write important information in the report, such as:
- Both drivers’ contact details and insurance information
- Names and contact details of any eyewitnesses
- All the visible signs of damage on both vehicles.
There is, however, an exception to this obligation to remain at the accident scene. If you suffer very severe injuries, the ambulance will take you to the hospital immediately.
At any rate, your car will likely remain at the crash scene and the police can document its position on the road and the damages. Later, when you are out of danger, the officers will also interview you to hear your side of the story.
Do Take Photos and Videos of the Accident Scene
A Cleveland car accident attorney knows that even the best-trained police officers may make a mistake and miss an important clue that could firmly establish fault. This is why you should always remember to take photos and videos immediately after the crash.
Try to cover the entire crash scene as a whole, and then focus on particular details, such as:
- your injuries
- the damages to your vehicle
- the position of both vehicles immediately after the collision
- any factors that could have played a role in the crash: potholes, debris on the road, poor visibility, etc.
Don’t Let the Other Driver Pay You Off
People have a gut feeling that they were at fault for a crash. They know they’ve been speeding or drinking and driving. These types of drivers are very likely to try and settle any damages you may seek privately. They will often offer an amount of money in exchange for not reporting the accident and not filing an insurance claim.
You must never accept such a deal. Here are just a few reasons:
- You are not aware of the full extent of your damages. Your medical bills, car repairs, and other costs could be far higher than the amount offered.
- The driver will walk away after the deal without giving you their name and insurance information.
- Even if you manage to track them down, your case is already compromised because you did not report the accident.
Do Get a Copy of the Accident Report
The accident report prepared by the police will be available within a few weeks after the crash. You can obtain a copy in person at the Cleveland Justice Center at 1300 Ontario St. for 5 (five) cents per page. Or, you can apply online for a copy.
Car crash attorneys rely on this report as one of the key pieces of evidence to prove your case. It often contains important observations that help the lawyer understand how the accident happened.
In situations where liability is difficult to prove, the accident report is necessary to help accident reconstruction experts recreate the circumstances of the crash in a 3D video presentation.
Don’t Negotiate with an Insurance Adjuster without a Lawyer
Finally, you should not talk or negotiate with the adjuster representing the other driver’s insurance company on your own. These are skilled professionals with a large bag of tricks to make you believe that you don’t have a valid case or to make you admit fault.
Moreover, without specific knowledge of the law, you don’t know how to argue your case and prove that you deserve the compensation you demand. A skilled attorney can do that for you and ensure that you get a fair settlement.
Contact a Cleveland Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible!
After your doctors say that you are out of danger, the first thing to do is reach out to an experienced Cleveland car accident lawyer. Bring all the available evidence, including your medical bills, to the initial appointment and tell your side of the story honestly and without leaving out any details.
We offer each new client a free case review, so you don’t have to worry about paying any advance fees. And, if you have a valid case, we will represent you on a contingency fee basis. Call us today at 844-853-7373!