If you have a non-catastrophic injury in a car or truck accident, or if you are helping someone who has a more serious injury, here are ten things to do after the crash.
- Call 911. Even if the other driver begs you not to call the police and offers immediate cash payment, call the police. Do not let the other driver talk you out of it. Give the officer accurate and detailed information about what happened They will create an accident report, which can be valuable for insurance claims and legal purposes.
Obtain a copy of the police report for your records. When a law enforcement officer comes to the scene be polite, respectful, courteous, and calm. Give accurate and complete information in response to the officer’s request. Make notes of the officer’s name, badge number and phone number. Most of them will just write it down and give it to you without being asked, and ask when and where you can pick up the accident report.|
If you get a ticket, don’t argue with the officer, it doesn’t help. Just sign the ticket to acknowledge receipt and deal with it later.
- Get photos then move vehicles out of traffic. With a camera phone, quickly get photographs and video of the scene and vehicles. Include any visible injuries, damages to the vehicles, and relevant road conditions, vehicle tags, and company information on the door of any commercial truck. Include photos of all vehicles damage from all angles, skid and gouge marks on the road, and special tags or stickers on the other vehicle. I once tried a case in which jurors focused on a “Jack Daniels” tag on the front of the other vehicle even though there was no evidence of intoxication. This documentation may be helpful for insurance claims or legal proceedings. If nobody is killed or seriously injured, move the vehicles out of the traffic lanes to clear traffic after you have taken those pictures.
- Exchange information. Do not admit fault in your shaken condition or get into an argument. Just obtain the contact, insurance, and vehicle details of all parties involved in the accident. This includes names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance policy information. All that should be included in a police report. You might even just take pictures of the cards with your phone camera and exchange those. But, don’t exchange social security numbers they don’t need it and it could be used for identity theft.
- Seek immediate medical attention. If you or anyone involved in the accident is injured, prioritize seeking medical attention. If you’re hurt at all, don’t be a stoic hero. Even if you subjectively feel that you are just shaken up, accept an ambulance ride if it’s offered. It’s very common for symptoms to increase the hours and days after an accident. Honestly describe to medical personal exactly what you are feeling in detail, they won’t know if you don’t tell them. But never exaggerate, just tell the truth. Even if you don’t take an ambulance to the hospital, get checked out promptly at a medical office or urgent care facility. Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe, it’s still important to get a medical evaluation as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
- Notify your insurance company. Inform your insurance company about the accident, even if you believe you were not at fault. You have paid for insurance to provide for your needs possibly including collision and comprehensive coverage, medical payments coverage, and uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage. They will guide you through the claims process and may require specific documentation. Be careful about talking with the other party’s insurance company. Do not agree to record your statement. Resist the temptation to minimize your injuries and say you’re OK when you may not be OK.
- Preserve evidence. Preserve any evidence related to the accident, such as medical records, bills, receipts, repair estimates, and correspondence with insurance companies or other parties involved. Keep everything organized and easily accessible.
- Follow medical advice. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding your treatment and rehabilitation. Attend all follow-up appointments, tell the doctor of all your injury symptoms so that they are properly documented and treated. Keep a log of your medical documentation, diagnoses, treatments, and prescribed medications.
- Keep a journal. Document your physical and emotional experiences, pain levels, limitations, and any other effects the accident has had on your daily life. You don’t need a whiny “dear diary” type of journal. Concise notes on calendar can be be helpful when discussing your case with medical professionals and legal representatives.
- Consult an attorney. Consider consulting a personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents. They can provide legal advice, protect your rights, help secure payment of your accident-related bills, and help you navigate any potential legal claims or lawsuits.
- Understand your rights. Familiarize yourself with your legal rights, including all applicable time limits. Be aware of any deadlines or legal requirements that may apply to your case.
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury in a car or truck crash, submit our inquiry form or call us now at 404-253-7862.
Johnson & Ward has been a leading personal injury and wrongful death specialty law firm in Atlanta since 1949. It quickly became the first and best personal injury law firm in Georgia. Successful with traditioanl referrals, the firm has never needed to advertise on TV or billboards. The founders of the firm were also among the founders of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Current partners include former presidents of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association.
Ken Shigley is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia (2011-12). He was the first Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy (Civil Trial Advocacy, Civil Pretrial Advocacy, and Truck Accident Law). In 2019, he received the Traditions of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement. Mr. Shigley was the lead author of eleven editions of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters, 2010-21). He graduated from Furman University and Emory University Law School, and completed certificate courses in trial practice, negotiation and mediation at Harvard Law School. Mr. Shigley has been a widower since 2017. His son is a golf fitness trainer and his daughter works with terminally ill people in hospice.