Getting into a car accident is bound to be one of the most jarring experiences anyone will ever go through. But unfortunately, victims are tasked with conducting themselves in a certain manner no matter how shaky they feel. By staying focused and avoiding common mistakes, they can maximize their chances of recovering all of their losses related to the accident.
The best way to prepare for this moment is to think ahead. And if an accident has already happened, know it’s not too late to start taking the right actions now.
Working with an experienced car accident lawyer in Chicago can help you strategize for your case moving forward while avoiding mistakes that can hurt your ability to claim compensation for your losses.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Langdon & Emison, Attorneys at Law, to learn about the next best steps to take starting now. Call (312) 872-3389 or contact us online to schedule your free appointment.
You can use the following tips to start taking the right actions at any stage after your car accident has occurred.
How to Act in the Immediate Aftermath of a Car Accident
The two key qualities you should embody after a car accident are calm and focus.
Remain Calm and Don’t Discuss Fault
Being calm is incredibly important. One of the most common mistakes after an accident is openly admitting fault. Running up to the other vehicle and yelling, “I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have run that light!” is a sure-fire way to hurt your ability to claim compensation from another driver’s third-party liability policy.
Fault is not determined until there has been an investigation. Even if you think you made a major mistake that led to the accident, your first impressions could turn out to be wrong. It is in your best interest to delay any judgments and avoid admitting fault until a thorough investigation has been conducted.
Likewise, accusing the other driver of fault is also not a smart idea. How you behave in the aftermath of an accident can become evidence in the subsequent case. If you were angry, intimidating, or acting out-of-control, then it’s easier for an insurance company or other defending party to characterize you in a bad light.
If, for example, the other driver wants to accuse you of causing the accident through road rage, then you openly threatening them or calling them obscenities only strengthens that argument.
Being able to defend your character is especially important if your case turns into a lawsuit and ends up being tried in front of a jury. Think ahead and remain calm, which undoubtedly means ignoring the feelings and emotions bubbling up inside of you after the accident.
When asked by a police officer about how the accident occurred, give every detail you can remember, but avoid speculating or drawing conclusions. That is the job of the police and private investigators, not the accident victim.
Stay Focused On Needed Tasks
A car accident is a moment of crisis, and how we respond during a crisis can have a huge effect on the outcome later on.
Again, you may be feeling jittery, upset, scared, angry, or a whole host of other powerful emotions. The best way to deal with them in the moment is to focus on performing the following tasks:
Check on the health and safety of everyone involved, including those in other vehicles.
Call 911 or the nearest precinct to report the accident and request a responding officer, as well as an ambulance for any serious injuries.
If it is at all safe to enter the roadway, take a few pictures of the wreckage before moving the vehicles.
Use emergency response tactics to stabilize any major injuries, but don’t perform any first aid unless you are a trained medical professional. For instance, apply pressure to any bleeding if there is not a foreign object in the way, and elevate injured limbs, if possible. Do not move anyone who has a major injury and possible head or spinal damage.
Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved.
Wait for the police to arrive, and then give a full report that’s accurate to the best of your knowledge.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Do not refuse ambulance transport if it is recommended by EMS.
Think of yourself as a professional responder in these moments. You have a duty to perform the above tasks, no matter how dazed or upset you feel. You also have a duty to look after your own injuries, which may include moving as little as possible once the accident has occurred.
How to Act Hours and Days After the Accident
Once you have reported the accident, exchanged information with all drivers, and given a statement, your next objective is to be extremely diligent and cautious.
Seek Medical Care as Soon as Possible
Your first priority is seeking medical care. Even if you don’t feel seriously hurt or hurt at all, it’s possible you have a hidden injury. These injuries tend to emerge hours or days later, and they can involve serious complications if not treated as soon as possible.
Consider it a duty to yourself and your loved ones to seek out a complete diagnosis. If your injury is serious or might be serious, accept ambulance transport to the nearest Emergency Department (ED). If your injury is likely minor or you don’t have any obvious injuries, you should still report to your primary care physician or a nearby urgent care clinic within the next 48 hours.
Be cautious about your health, and assume you need urgent care and professional treatment rather than assuming you don’t.
Be Cautious About Discussing the Accident
Be extremely careful about discussing the accident with anyone other than medical professionals or an appointed Chicago car accident attorney.
Insurance companies are the number one thing you have to be cautious about after an accident has occurred – even when reporting the accident to your own insurance company.
Since neither the true cause of the accident or the true prognosis of your medical condition is known, you are better off not sharing any information that amounts to speculation. Instead, provide your contact information, give notice that an accident (and an injury, if applicable) has occurred, and if asked, confirm general details on the police report, such as the time, date, and location of the accident.
Don’t speculate on fault or the likely medical outcome of your injuries. In fact, comment on your injuries as little as possible. Something as simple as responding to the question, “How are you feeling today?” with a statement like “Doing great!” can end up being used against you during the claims or litigation process.
Hire a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Who Can Protect Your Rights and Look Out for Your Best Interest
Once you have received medical treatment, review your case with an experienced car accident attorney team. You will learn what legal strategies can be used to seek compensation for your losses, and you can begin gathering evidence and documenting your losses to prepare a strong claim.
Langdon & Emison has a car accident attorney in Chicago to represent your case and offer guidance on how to act in response to your specific situation. You may need to be patient while waiting for a claim to be fully processed, but you may also need to be aggressive and swift-moving if someone else is threatening you with legal action.
Since there is no way to possibly cover every specific situation, it’s best to receive legal advice only after discussing your case with a professional attorney near you. Call Langdon & Emison Attorneys at Law, to learn about your options and next best steps during a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Schedule your free appointment now when you call (312) 872-3389 or contact us online.