No one plans to get involved in a car crash when they leave their home to head to work, do some grocery shopping or visit family. Yet, this is exactly what happens to millions of people each year. In the U.S., there are more than 5 million car crashes annually, with nearly half involving injuries. It’s a safe bet that many of these crashes create some property damage at the very least, while most victims are left with medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and even permanent disability.
If you’re involved in a car accident in Alabama, we want to make sure that you get the best care possible while protecting your rights. It’s no secret that large insurance companies want to minimize their risk, which means avoiding large payouts if possible. Even if you are unsure about fault, it is important to take specific measures to safeguard your right to compensation. Here are the steps that you should take immediately following a car accident.
1. Get to Safety
There is a common misconception that everything should be left in place after a motor vehicle accident. In some cases, it’s ok to leave your vehicle where it lies, but in others, it’s best to move to the side of the road so that you don’t cause additional accidents. Even if you don’t move your vehicles, make sure that all occupants are safely out of the roadway as quickly as possible so that no one is further injured.
2. Call the Police
You should always call the police when you’ve been involved in a car accident. Even if there is only minor damage to your vehicle and you believe that there aren’t any injuries, it’s important to have the accident recorded by an official third party. Eyewitness accounts can change quickly, so it is a good idea to get an official accounting of what everyone saw before, during and after the crash.
For example, the other driver might say that they aren’t injured and then report severe neck pain a week later. Likewise, you may not think that you have serious injuries or property damage and then realize that this isn’t the case hours or days later. An official police report can help resolve any future disputes so be sure to request a copy of your Alabama Uniform Traffic Accident Report.
3. Document Everything
While you are still at the accident scene, document as much about the accident as possible. If you are injured and unable to do this, ask a passenger or even a witness if they will help with this important task. Take pictures of both vehicles and any damage. Photograph the surroundings and take pictures of injuries if possible. Collect the name, address, and phone number of all involved parties and witnesses. If there is a later dispute about negligence in an auto accident case, you’ll be glad that you took the time to gather this important evidence.
4. Seek Medical Attention
Getting prompt medical attention for your injuries should be one of your top priorities after a car crash. If you are seriously injured, ask someone at the scene to request an ambulance. Even if you don’t need to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, it’s important that you either go to the emergency room or call your family physician as quickly as possible for treatment of your injuries.
Some auto accident victims mistakenly believe that they didn’t suffer any injuries as a result of the crash. When an accident occurs, our adrenalin level spikes and this can mask the onset of pain from muscle strains or other serious issues. When you do seek treatment, follow your doctor’s recommendations and keep copies of all medical records and bills.
5. Notify the Insurance Company
Once you are at home or a safe location, you’ll need to report the accident to your auto insurance company. You can also contact the other driver’s insurance company if you believe that they were at fault in the accident. Reporting the accident is necessary to provide “proper notice,” so that the insurer can’t later deny your claim.
6. Seek Legal Advice
Auto accidents in Alabama can become complicated for a variety of reasons. If there were multiple vehicles involved in the accident, there might be a dispute about fault. The negligent party’s insurance company might not want to pay or may try to get you to settle for less than your claim worth. In an Alabama auto accident case, it is important that you seek qualified legal advice and do so quickly.
Our experienced Montgomery auto accident attorneys are happy to discuss the specifics of your case during a free consultation. Contact the experienced Alabama car accident attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum. Contact us at (334) 262-1911 or by using our online form to schedule an appointment.