Even the safest drivers among us can be involved in an auto accident. The better prepared you are, the better you will be able to respond.
To help you to get through the many challenges that can arise after a car crash, Jebaily Law Firm presents the following Post Accident Checklist:
Keep These Items in Your Car
If you are involved in an accident, you will be glad that you have these items on hand:
- Current South Carolina vehicle registration
- Auto insurance card
- Small notepad and pen
- Emergency contacts list
- Camera and flashlight (if your cell phone lacks these features)
- Jumper cables
- Tire-changing equipment (spare tire, tire jack and wrench)
- Flares or reflectors
- First aid kit
- Bottled water
During cold weather months, you should also keep the following in your trunk or glove compartment:
- Blanket or extra coat, sweater or sweatshirt (for warmth if you are stranded)
- Hat and gloves
- Kitty litter or sand (for getting tire traction if you are stuck in ice, snow or mud)
Take These Steps at the Accident Scene
Don’t panic after a crash. Take a deep breath and calmly go through as many of the following steps as possible:
- Stay put.
South Carolina law requires you to stop if a crash causes property damage, injury or death. If it is safe to do so, put out flares or use your flashlight to warn others. Do not leave unless you are transported to a hospital or until a responding police officer says you can go.
- Check for injuries.
Do a quick scan of yourself and others to see if anyone is injured. Do not move anyone – leave the handling of crash victims to emergency responders.
- Call 911.
To make sure you get emergency medical responders and police to the scene as quickly as possible, call 911 right away. Check street signs or landmarks to make sure you give the right crash location, which should speed response time.
- Get witness information.
Witnesses will leave quickly – even before police or EMTs arrive. Make sure to get their names and contact information. Make a note of what they saw or heard.
- Take photos.
Before a car is moved or towed, you can get photos of the scene. If possible, get four exterior shots of each car involved (front, back and sides), interior shots and shots of the surrounding scene, including glass, debris, skid marks, street signs and traffic lights.
- Cooperate with police.
Assist the responding officer as much as possible. Give your name and address, registration number and proof of insurance. Answer the officer’s questions. Stick to the facts and do not make comments. Don’t blame anyone. Don’t accept guilt. Get the officer’s name and agency and the accident report number before the officer leaves.
- Jot down notes.
Either at the scene or shortly after you leave, you should write down as many notes as possible about the crash while the details are still fresh in your mind, including:
- Did the other driver smell of alcohol or appear to have been drinking?
- When did you first see the other vehicle?
- How fast were you driving right before impact?
- Did you or the other car do anything to avoid the crash?
- Were any vehicles turning?
- Was traffic light or heavy at the time?
- Was there anything unusual about the road or weather conditions?
- Did the other driver say anything to you after the collision?
Auto Accident Lawyers: Take These Steps after the Accident
Protect your health and your legal rights by following these steps in the accident’s aftermath:
- Get medical attention.
Even if you were not taken away by an ambulance, you may still be hurt. Many head and spinal cord injuries, soft tissue damage and internal injuries are not immediately apparent. Go to the emergency room or see your doctor as soon as possible for any car accident injuries.
- Call your lawyer.
The sooner you have a South Carolina personal injury attorney protecting your legal rights, the better off you will be in the long run. Schedule a meeting to discuss your case as soon as possible.
- Report your accident.
If your crash resulted in property damage, injury or death, you are required by law to file a FR-10 insurance verification form with the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You must file it within 15 days after the crash and start the claims process.
- Notify your insurance company.
You should report your accident as soon as possible to your auto insurance company. However, do not give a statement until you talk with your car accident lawyers. Additionally, you do not have to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Simply direct that insurance company’s calls to your car accident attorneys.
- Start a post-accident folder.
Keep all of your crash-related documents in a folder. This includes:
- Medical bills and receipts.
- Written prescriptions.
- Car rental invoices.
- Car repair bills.
- Your auto insurance policy.
- Correspondence with insurance companies
- Any records showing time missed from work.
- Keep a post-accident journal.
As you recover from any type of crash, keep a diary. Make notes about the medical treatment you have received, and how the accident has impacted your work, your family and your lifestyle.
- Don’t talk about your crash on social media.
Anything you state on social media such as Facebook and Twitter could impact your case. It is best to keep the details out of the public arena.
- Do not sign anything.
Do not sign a settlement agreement or release form until your lawyer has reviewed it first and determined whether the settlement offer would fully and fairly compensate you.
- Stay in touch with your lawyer.
You should never hesitate to talk to a car accident attorney. If you have concerns about your case, contact us now.