Being in a car crash is disorienting. It’s hard to remember everything that the “What to do after a car accident” guides tell you to do:
- Remain calm
- Dial 9-1-1
- Seek medical attention
- Take pictures
- Interview any witnesses
- Exchange insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident
- Report your accident to your insurance company as soon as possible
The thing is, if you suffered serious injuries in an accident, you are likely not in a position to do any of these things. So our advice is simple: If you were hurt in a car accident, seek immediate medical attention. Get the care you need—it’s really the only thing you can afford to worry about.
Medical Care Matters Even for Seemingly Minor Injuries
If you have not suffered severe injuries, you should stay at the scene to ensure that all drivers, passengers and pedestrians involved are safe. Then call the police and wait for them to arrive.
Once the police have cleared you to leave the scene, we still suggest you seek medical attention. Here’s why: Adrenaline can give you a false sense of safety following an accident. Some people walk away from accidents feeling fine, only to discover that they have suffered potentially severe injuries hours later. And many injuries are most painful 1-2 days after the accident.
Speaking With Your Insurance Carrier
You should inform your insurance company that you were in an accident as soon as possible. But note—this is dangerous territory. You must be very careful about what you say to your company. Insurance companies are only friendly toward healthy clients who do not make claims. If you have suffered injuries and need to make a claim, you are no longer a client they like.
Here are some tips as to what to say, and what not to say, when talking with an insurance adjuster:
- Never admit fault. You likely have no idea what the other driver was doing moments before the accident. For instance, if you were turning at an intersection where you thought the gap was large enough, but you still ended up in an accident, it is possible the other driver was going too fast. You just don’t know, so don’t volunteer to take the blame or even apologize.
- Stick to the facts. State what happened in your own version, but remain factual about this. Do not insert opinions, guestimates or anything else along those lines.
- Do not lie. If you lie to your insurance company, they will find out. And it will only make matters worse for you.
When in doubt, make sure you first speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who can help you sift through the situation and help you understand what information you’ll need to put forward to make a claim.
The Truth About Settlement Offers
Your insurance company may offer you a lowball settlement in the days following an accident. If you agree, you will lose your right to seek more if your injuries turn out to be worse than you expected. Your auto insurer may also look for valid ways to deny coverage for your accident, or just deny your claim as a tactic to pay you less than you deserve. In the end, you should know that your insurance company is always looking to make a profit, not to pay out what you need and deserve.
A personal injury lawyer may be your only hope of getting fair compensation. If you are not sure what to do in a specific situation, you are better off speaking to an attorney first. If the attorney can’t help you, you are no worse off than you were before calling.