You’ve just been in a car accident, you are shaken, you’ve lost valuable property, and you are injured. What you do in the first seventy-two hours is critical, and not having the right information can leave you ill prepared and cheated. Don’t be a double victim of something that isn’t your fault, arm yourself with the knowledge of what to do in the first seventy-two hours.
First, remain calm. An accident is a very mentally and physically stressing event. Remaining calm will ensure that you make the right decisions in the moments after an accident. Check on any passengers in your vehicle. If you are able to move your vehicle, move it onto the shoulder of the road. However, it is important to try and get any pictures of the accident before you move your vehicle. Many cell phones and smartphones are equipped with cameras. These pictures can be very useful, but only attempt to get these pictures if it safe to do so.
Next, call the police. Regardless if you or the other party feel damages and injuries are not serious enough to involve authorities, it is important to have a police report to rely on. In the moments after an accident the events are still fresh in your mind. Giving that information to an officer creates a record that will be beneficial when a claim is filed.
You should exchange information, but limit it to personal and insurance information. Do not admit guilt or responsibility to them. Do not divulge any information that may have legal implications against you. This includes any statement to police. It is always best to wait till you have an attorney with you to help you answer any questions.
You should then try to gather as much witness information as possible. Get names, contact information, and a statement from each witness. The police may be on their way, but most witnesses may not be able to wait around. Get their information, thank them and allow them to leave.
If you are able to leave under your own power, seek medical attention immediately. Many accident victims don’t realize the severity of their injuries immediately after an accident because the adrenaline is pumping which helps the body to block out the pain. Many accident victims make the mistake of waiting three days or more to seek necessary medical attention. Waiting can hurt your claim. However, seeking immediate medical attention can assist doctors in finding damages done to the body that otherwise may take days or weeks to become obvious.
Seek the advice of an injury attorney when dealing with insurance companies; even your own insurance company. Insurance companies employ teams of adjusters, investigators, and attorneys to assist with insurance claims. Insurance companies are big business that have the goal of making money. Insurance companies cannot make money if they pay out big claims. Insurance companies can use any information you provide them to bend your story and hurt your claim. You should always make sure your rights are protected and you should never provide more information than necessary to insurance companies. Consult a personal injury attorney to assist you when dealing with insurance companies.
An accident is a stressful and traumatic event. How you handle the first seventy-two hours can determine so much. If you handle it the wrong way, you could find yourself losing out on any damages you may be entitled to and the long-term effects of those damages can be devastating to you and your family. However, being armed with the proper knowledge of what to do in that time frame can ensure that you and your rights are protected and that you receive what is rightfully yours.