What Should You Do After a Car Accident? Checklist and Advice
Many Americans take their safety behind the wheel for granted. But driving is one of the most dangerous activities people do on a regular basis. Car accidents are always a risk when driving. Whether you have to deal with a minor fender bender or a major collision, understanding what to do next can help you get on the road to recovery and avoid costly legal complications.
If you were involved in a Maryland car accident, the following checklist could be a helpful guide for protecting your health and your legal rights. Contact Trollinger Law LLC today to learn more in a free initial consultation.
Check Yourself for Injuries
In the immediate aftermath of any collision, your health and safety should be your primary concern. If your car is drivable and you are able, get yourself and your vehicle out of the flow of moving traffic. This could help prevent other accidents and injuries.
Without leaving the accident scene, drive your vehicle out of the way, either to the shoulder or a nearby parking lot, if possible. If you can’t move your car, leave it and move to a safe location with any other vehicle occupants.
After you reach a safe location, check yourself and any passengers for obvious injuries. If you’re not sure whether anyone suffered an injury, watch for common indicators of trauma, such as:
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Back pain
- Numbness or tingling
- Altered mood
- Abdominal pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating
Call 911 or Contact Law Enforcement
No matter how minor or serious the accident, it’s always a good idea to call 911. Doing so will create an official record of the incident. This could prove useful in any resulting insurance claim. If the accident resulted in death or injuries, you must report it to the police under Maryland law.
When law enforcement responds to the scene, officers can secure the area to prevent additional damage and summon other emergency responders to assist with any injuries.
Police officers also create their accident reports at the scene, and the information they include can serve as an impartial record of the crash. In Maryland, an officer will usually only write a full report if either a vehicle must be towed from the scene, or someone must leave the scene by ambulance because of injuries. Be sure to request a copy of this report.
Collect Contact Information
Your next step should be exchanging information with the other driver or drivers involved. The essential details to collect include:
- Their full name and contact information
- Their auto insurance provider
- Their auto insurance policy number
- Their driver’s license number
- Their vehicle’s license plate number
- Their vehicle type, color, make, and model
It’s often easiest to use your phone camera to take photos of the necessary details.
When you speak with others involved in the accident, avoid apologizing for anything or admitting fault in any way. Anything you say or do may be recorded by the other driver and used against you if you or someone else files an insurance claim or lawsuit.
If you are well enough to move around the accident scene immediately after the crash, do your best to gather as much evidence as possible. Even if you don’t plan to pursue compensation, strong evidence could help demonstrate what happened and protect you from claims that you were at fault.
You can document the accident and safeguard your legal rights by:
- Asking any police officers at the scene for their names and badge numbers
- Requesting a copy of the police accident report for your records
- Taking photos of the accident scene, visible injuries, and any damage to your vehicle or other vehicles from multiple angles
- Speaking to witnesses who saw what happened and asking them for their names and contact details
- Writing down everything you can recall about how the accident occurred as soon as possible, while your memory is fresh
Check Your Auto Insurance Policy
Before you talk to your auto insurance provider, it’s a good idea to check your policy. It should detail the types of coverage you purchased and outline your provider’s reporting requirements. Most auto insurance policies require you to report the accident to your provider within a certain period. So it’s helpful to understand the timeline you have to work with.
When you do contact your insurance provider, be careful about what you say. Insurance adjusters will ask for lots of details about the accident and will likely record everything. It’s often best to speak with an experienced Maryland car accident attorney before you contact your insurer.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer
The sooner you speak with a trusted lawyer, the better. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can streamline the claims process and help you seek the full compensation you need. The car accident attorneys at Trollinger Law LLC can take the stress off you by:
- Helping you understand your legal rights, your options, and any insurance benefits that may be available
- Conducting an independent investigation into the accident to uncover useful evidence and witness testimony
- Consulting with expert witnesses such as medical professionals and accident reconstruction specialists who can explain the causes and effects of the crash
- Communicating with insurance providers, attorneys, medical providers, and other parties on your behalf
- Negotiating aggressively to maximize your compensation during settlement talks with the insurance company
- Representing you in court, if the insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement amount
Hurt in a Car Accident? Learn About Your Legal Rights Now
If you have questions about what to do after a Maryland car accident, contact Trollinger Law LLC today to discuss your case with a knowledgeable attorney. We provide free case reviews and operate on a contingency fee basis. That means we receive no money from you until and unless we help you recover compensation.