Even if you are not hurt, you may feel a rush of adrenaline that can make it difficult to think clearly about what to do next.
While we hope that you never need to put them into practice, we believe it is a good idea to remind yourself once in a while of the things you need to do following a car accident.
This blog covers the first immediate steps you need to take, as well as a few of the things you should do as time goes on, such as hiring an experienced Louisiana car accident attorney to help you.
What to do immediately after a car accident in Baton Rouge
Police deal with roughly 6 million car accidents in the U.S. every year, and one in three accidents involve personal injury to the driver or passengers. If this happens to you, here are the first steps you need to take while you’re still at the scene of the accident.
Step 1: Stop the car and pull off to the side of the road
It’s your legal obligation to stop the car when you’ve had an accident. Check on yourself and your passengers for injuries, and if your car can still move but you’re blocking traffic, pull off to the side of the road. If you can’t move your car, at least stand to the side somewhere safe while conducting the next few steps.
Step 2: Call 911
One of the most important steps is to call 911. If there are serious injuries, the dispatcher can send an ambulance. Even in the absence of injuries, it is important to summon law enforcement to the scene and make an accident report – which may be helpful for you later on. In fact, Louisiana law requires you to call the police after serious traffic accidents.
Make sure you get the police officer’s name and badge number, as well as the station the police are coming from so you can get your copy of the accident report later.
If you have access to the report number, you’ll also need to document it. The document is your way out when faced with an accident with an accident lawsuit or insurance claim.
Step 3: Document the accident
If you or any of your passengers received visible injuries in the crash, you should take pictures of them in case you need documentation for insurance purposes later. If it is safe to do so, you should also take pictures of the accident scene and the damage your vehicle sustained in the crash, and even the surrounding areas of where the accident took place.
NOTE: Can you use a cell phone to take pictures of the accident?
Absolutely! Since most people now have access to cell phones with cameras and insurance companies allow you to submit claims information using apps or email, taking photos with your phone is perfectly fine. And it’s especially useful for property damage and injury images, to show how the cars were after the accident, where they were on the street, etc.
Additionally, make a list of the facts about the accident, including:
- Date and time of the accident
- Address of the accident, or approximate address
- The direction you and the other car were traveling in
- A detailed account of what happened (so that you don’t forget the specifics)
- Any notes regarding the driving conditions, the weather, visibility
Step 4: Collect everyone’s information
As soon as you can, you should exchange information with the other driver, including:
- Phone numbers
- Name of insurance providers and policy numbers
If possible, try to get pictures of the other car’s license plate. (But be aware of identity theft issues when exchanging information. The other driver does not need your driver’s license photo.)
Additionally, obtain the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident and of the officers who arrive on the scene.
Steps To Take Next
Once you’ve had some time to recover from the accident and the police report has been made, there are some other things you should do.
Step 5: Get to a doctor
If you are at all injured, visit the hospital, doctor, or urgent care immediately. Sometimes an injury doesn’t show up until a day or two later, but you should still get to a doctor if it does. Be sure to always tell your doctor about the accident, and go to all follow-up appointments or get any recommended tests.
Step 6: Talk to your insurance company
After the accident, you should inform your insurance company what happened. Even if you were not at fault, do this as soon as possible after the crash. More information about injuries from motor vehicle accidents is available on our website.
If you don’t contact your insurer within a specific time period, your policy may invalidate your cover, leaving you with a big bill to pay. You should check your policy as soon as possible to know how long you have after the accident before you need to contact them.
Step 7: Do NOT talk to the other party’s insurance company
You may get calls from the other driver’s insurance company. You DO NOT need to talk to them. They may even ask for a recorded statement or offer you a small amount of cash to sign a release. DO NOT do this. They are trying to get you to admit fault or say that you feel fine, but talking to them will only hurt you in the long run.
Step 8: Keep track of lost wages
This step will come in handy down the road when you’re trying to receive compensation. You should hang on to all tax returns and W2s, as well as any other important documentation showing loss of income, as well as medical bills, car repair bills, etc.
Hire a Louisiana Car Accident Attorney to Help With Your Claim
A crucial next step is to hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve. Your attorney can protect your rights and help you with statements to law enforcement and with insurance companies.
You’ll need to examine what you’ve lost due to the accident in order to decide what to request for compensation.
Losses, referred to as damages, typically come in two types:
- Special Damages. These damages are easy to calculate because they have a monetary value, such as:
- Medical treatment costs
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- General Damages. These damages are more complicated. The most common type of general damage is often referred to as “pain and suffering,” which can either be physical pain or mental/emotional suffering (i.e., anxiety, PTSD, loss of appetite).
Your attorney, of course, will help you determine these damages through an investigation. They’ll also follow up with you frequently about any medical treatment you have as a result of the accident to have all the relevant information about your injuries and health, as well.
Once you’re on the mend, your attorney will demand a settlement. 95% of the time, personal injury cases are settled before anyone has to go to court. In some cases, however, you will need to file a lawsuit if you decide that the insurance company’s offer is insufficient.
It is your attorney’s job to make sure that you receive a fair settlement so that you don’t have to go to court. If you do choose to go to court, however, it is your attorney’s job to fight for you and your compensation.
More About Personal Injury Claims in Louisiana
Filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company is not easy. They will vigorously defend their insured (the other driver in your accident).
Plus, they don’t want to lose money paying claimants (you).
So how can you get a fair settlement? With the help of your attorney, you must prove:
- The other driver was negligent and caused the accident
- The accident caused your injuries
- The cost of damages (discussed above)
Negligent means careless, so a person acts negligently when they fail to take reasonable care to prevent harm to others. For example, driving under the influence and violating traffic laws are negligent behaviors.
Liability means responsibility for what happened. When a driver violates traffic laws and causes an accident, they become liable for the injuries of the passengers in the car that they hit.
Car accident liability claims are based on the other driver’s fault. If their negligence caused the accident, they’re liable for your damages.
Let Our Louisiana Car Accident Attorneys at Pierce & Shows Help You
If you or someone you love has been the victim of a car accident, contact Pierce & Shows today. We understand the bullying and games played by insurance companies, and we know how to create pressure points that force insurers to re-evaluate their position. Give us a call today to schedule your free consultation so that we can get started on your case.