What to Do After a Car Accident: The Complete Checklist (and 5 Things You Need to Document)
- July 22nd, 2019
If you’ve just had a wreck, follow this car accident checklist to keep safe and protect your legal rights.
- Stop — Never leave the scene of any traffic accident.
- Get Medical Help — If there are serious injuries, call 911 for immediate medical treatment.
- Call the Police — A police record can be significant, even for what seems like a minor traffic accident.
- Avoid Discussion — It is fine to trade insurance information with the other driver(s), but avoid discussing the accident, especially comments about who was at fault.
- Report the Accident — You should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, but avoid giving a statement about the accident until you have consulted with an attorney.
- Gather Critical Documentation — The things you record or document now can have a substantial impact on insurance outcomes or any compensation you may receive for injuries. Follow the list below.
5 Things to Document After a Car Accident
1. What Happened — While the accident is still fresh in your mind, document what happened, including what happened just before the accident. Be as detailed as you can, and use a camera phone to record your thoughts on video, if possible.
Use these prompts and questions to make sure you capture the most critical information about the event:
- “I was driving/turning/stopped, when …”
- “When I first noticed the other driver they were …”
- Were there any road hazards involved?
- What were the weather and road conditions like?
- Were there other drivers or vehicles that played a role in the crash but did not wreck their vehicles?
- Was the other driver acting erratically/speeding/being reckless?
- Did the other driver appear to be distracted or on a cell phone during the crash?
- Did the other driver say anything to you after the crash?
2. Your Injuries — Documentation of injuries and the resulting pain and suffering are critical for your immediate and long-term treatment, as well as recovering the cost of that treatment. Take pictures of injuries at the scene and record how you are feeling.
Remember that many injuries only become evident in the days after an accident. Just because you are not bruised or bleeding at the moment, doesn’t mean there isn’t serious damage. Get a thorough medical examination after an accident, and document anything that was hit or might be hurt. You should keep a journal and record in the days ahead any treatment, pain, discomfort, loss of mobility, and more.
3. The Accident Scene — Unless the vehicles involved in the accident are obstructing traffic or you are ordered to move them by police, leave the vehicles where they are after the accident. After seeking immediate help for any needed medical treatment, take photos and videos of the scene.
Include photos of the vehicles from different angles, but be safe — don’t risk further injury or another accident as you are gathering documentation. If there are tire/skid marks on the pavement, try to photograph those. Capture damage to the exterior and interior of your vehicle.
4. Eyewitness Accounts — If there are eyewitnesses to the accident, get their contact information. If they are willing, record their account of what happened from their vantage point.
You don’t need to worry about trying to establish who was at fault, so try to concentrate on just the facts they can remember — what they saw leading up to, during, and after the accident.
If you record a video, have them point to where they were at during the crash and any other details of the scene that seem important to what happened. If you’re going to make a video recording of what they saw, ask them, while recording, if you have permission to record your conversation.
5. Accident-Related Information — There are many forms, claim numbers, pieces of contact information, rental car agreements, medical claims and bills, and more that may be associated with your accident. It would be best if you kept all of those papers in one place, beginning now.
Next Steps After Your Accident
We know it is an overwhelming time right now, and you may be in pain. It can be so confusing after an accident, especially if you are worried about doing all the right things. This checklist is a reliable, basic framework for what you should be focused on right now. Read more about the details of documentation and what to do after a car accident in our more comprehensive guide.
It is vital, moving forward, to get the legal expertise you need to protect your rights and make sure this accident doesn’t ruin your finances or leave you stuck with medical bills and health issues to sort out on your own.
The Law Office of David E. Gordon is a well-respected and established firm for car accident victims in the Memphis area. We can talk with you right now about your accident and help provide advice and support during this critical time. Call us today for more information, (901) 667-8305, or fill out our online form.