If you’ve ever been involved in a car crash, you’ll know that it’s hard to think clearly immediately afterwards, particularly if you’ve been injured in any way. The trauma and surprise of being in an accident can be overwhelming and disorienting. As a result, many people fail to document important things that can come back to bite them later when they try to recover money from an insurance company for their medical bills or car damage.
Here are the 5 most important things to do to properly investigate the accident so you won’t get screwed by the insurance company later on down the road.
Take photographs of every vehicle involved in the crash
This is easy with your smartphone. Take pictures from every angle that shows how much damage, and how the crash may have happened. This is important later on if the insurance company says the crash was your fault – you can show what happened based on the damage to the vehicles and how they came to rest afterward. Pictures also help to show the severity of the crash – for when the insurance company says to you that you could not have been hurt because the crash was just a minor fender bender.
Talk to any eyewitnesses
If anyone saw the crash, get their name and phone number. If possible, use your cell phone to record a quick conversation with the witness before they forget what they saw. Witnesses will disappear and forget what they saw sooner than you could imagine, so having contact information for a witness and a statement can change your case dramatically.
Call the police and talk to the investigating officer
When the police arrive, they will fill out an accident report. The report will be some of your only proof that the accident actually happened. Often times the at fault driver will suggest that you don’t need a police officer – don’t listen to them, having an officer fill out a report is an essential step in recovering from the at fault driver.
Take pictures of any injuries
If your injuries are visible, take pictures. Many, many times an insurance company will claim that you were injured in some way other than the crash. Pictures of your injuries immediately after the crash will prove what happened to you.
Do not talk to any insurance companies.
The at fault driver’s insurance company will call you. They are not concerned about you, or checking to make sure you are ok. They are trying to get you to say or do something that they can use against you to save them money. Don’t answer the phone, or simply tell them that you will not speak to them until you have completely recovered from your injuries. In North Carolina, you have 3 years after you are injured to file a lawsuit – so there’s not rush to speak to them.
Above all else, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon after a crash as you can. An attorney will know exactly how to investigate the crash so that you are not missing critical information that can help you recover money for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.