Car accidents happen in an instant. They’re unexpected, so they can leave you reeling. It’s important to know what to do—and what not to do—so you can protect your health and your opportunity to recover fair compensation for your injuries, property damage, and more.
This blog is designed to offer helpful tips that can prepare you for the aftermath of a car accident. Because every situation is different, we recommend that you use your own judgment about what may best apply to your case. You are also always welcome to talk to a Washington, D.C. car accident lawyer at our firm for a free, private consultation.
It is also important to note that emergency medical care comes first. You should not try to remain at the scene if you are severely injured and must be taken to the hospital. There are exceptions to Maryland and Washington, D.C.’s hit and run laws if you or the other driver are unconscious or otherwise catastrophically injured and are transported from the scene by ambulance.
If you’re in a car accident, take these steps:
Remain at the Scene
It is against the law to leave the scene of a car accident that has caused property damage or personal injury. Unless you are seriously injured and are taken from the scene by ambulance, stay put. Move off the roadway if possible and render aid to the other driver if it is reasonably safe to do so. If the accident is blocking traffic or if someone is severely injured, call 911.
Exchange Information with the Other Driver
You are also required by law to exchange information with the other party (or parties) who have been involved in the accident. This includes your driver’s license and insurance information. An easy way to get the other driver’s information is to take a photo of their license and insurance card with your cell phone.
If it’s safe to do so, take pictures with your phone or a camera. You can document the scene itself, damage to your vehicle, injuries you’ve experienced, and more. This can prove helpful in the future as you navigate the insurance claim process. Now is a good time to get the contact information of any witnesses as well.
Don’t Apologize or Admit Fault
You may feel automatically inclined to apologize to the other driver or anyone who was involved in the accident—even if you did not cause it! This is human nature. Some people instinctively apologize, without intending to admit fault. Be wary of saying or doing anything that could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt. Even if you think you caused the accident, there could be an external factor you don’t know about that was the true cause of the crash. Or, you and the other driver may share the blame. Don’t admit fault. Let an investigation reveal what caused the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
As soon as possible, see a doctor. Make sure you tell your doctor that you were in a traffic accident, so they know what type of injuries to look for. With car accidents, whiplash and other soft tissue injuries may not become apparent for hours or even days. Even if you feel like you don’t need treatment, seek medical care to make sure you’re alright. Hidden car accident injuries can be life-changing in some cases.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
After you seek medical treatment, be sure to follow your doctor’s orders. Take your medication and follow any other instructions, like limiting physical activity or wearing a brace or other device. Remember, you play an important role in the healing process!
Talk to an Attorney
For very minor accidents involving property damage alone, involving an attorney may be unnecessary. If you were injured, however, or are experiencing any problems getting your insurance claim paid, you should consider involving a legal professional. An attorney can deal with the insurance company and handle any delays or other issues. They can put the right amount of pressure to help you get the type of settlement that covers all your medical bills, lost wages, damage to your vehicle, and more. They can even take your case to court if needed. Too many insurance companies underpay claims or deny responsibility. A competent attorney can put a stop to this.
Our Maryland Car Accident Lawyers Are Here to Help
After a serious auto accident, attempting to put the pieces of your life together can seem impossible. At Gracia & Mintz, we’re here to help. We can take the burden of your car accident claim from your shoulders, using our experience and resources to pursue the full compensation you deserve—the type of compensation that allows you to rebuild and move on. Our car accident lawyers serve clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you. Call (301) 842-8584 or contact us online for your free consultation.