If you have just been in a car accident, you are likely shaken up and may not be thinking clearly. Legal consequences may be the furthest thing from your mind.
But you need to be not only thinking about potential legal consequences, you need to be taking action to protect yourself. Skipping these four steps could come back to bite you.
1. File A Police Report
Even if you do not have a cell phone and it was a hit-and-run, call them as soon as you can. You will likely need the police report to file an insurance claim and you may need it for other purposes.
Someone who will ram your vehicle and leave the scene may do other nasty things. Don’t assume that’s the last you’ve seen of them.
2. See A Medical Professional
You may think you are fine now but see a doctor right away anyway. Soft tissue injuries, such as concussions, can be serious, can have long-term consequences, and may not be immediately obvious.
You want to speak to them immediately so the details of the accident are still fresh in your mind. If you do have a head injury, your inability to remember details of recent events may prompt them to refer you for additional testing.
A referral for testing can uncover more serious problems as early as possible which can help maximize the odds of a full recovery. The sooner you know you have a serious but invisible injury, the less likely you are to accidentally make things worse in the short term and more likely you are to get the care you need for a complete recovery.
3. Contact A Lawyer Immediately
The initial consult with a lawyer is usually free. You want to contact them immediately so that there is a record with someone the court system will trust.
You also want to do it as quickly as possible because you may forget a lot of details over time. Even if you don’t forget them, people will insist your memory isn’t reliable if you wait too long to get a record of the incident.
Should things turn into a legal battle, having a reliable record on file with an attorney may be the best insurance you can have. You may also be surprised to learn that you have a solid case and you may find yourself being advised to act promptly for best results.
4. Contact Your Insurance Provider
If the other party is at fault, their insurance provider may be legally responsible for covering costs, such as car repairs or medical bills. But you may have a clause in your insurance that you have forgotten about that could get you additional funds or your insurance company may cover it and seek reimbursement if there is a dispute concerning who is at fault. Either way, you want to call your insurance company promptly to protect yourself and get your life back on track.
These steps are so important that you really should have a note in your glove box listing them in bullet-point format. If possible, include contact information for each, such as a phone number. This can help make it easy for you to begin this process even while upset and disoriented.