What to Do (and What to Avoid) During & After a Car Wreck
If you’ve ever been involved in a car wreck, you already know how terrifying it can be. Even a seemingly insignificant fender-bender will set your heart racing. Taking the appropriate action in that moment can be difficult considering how shaken most people are after such an experience. But from a legal standpoint, those first few decisions after an accident are vital.
By reviewing the steps now – when you're not burdened by the emotions and stress of an actual accident – you will better recall what to do if a car wreck does occur. Drew Tuggle, attorney at Whitehurst, Blackburn & Warren, helps us prepare to react and proceed following an automobile wreck.
At the Scene...
Step 1: Ensure everyone is safe and call the police.
We all know this, but Tuggle begins with a reminder to first and foremost make sure everyone is safe.
Make sure you and others involved are out of the way of oncoming traffic, if possible. After everyone is deemed safe, “Call 911 even if no one seems to be hurt,” Tuggle advises. “If there is a chance that someone is injured, make sure they get medical attention. Inform the 911 operator that an ambulance needs to be dispatched to the scene.”
Step 2: Collect information, if you are able. After following safety precautions and contacting the police, if you are able, you should collect subsequent information at the time of the accident:
Take Photographs of any damages to the vehicles involved and any physical injuries you sustained.
Get witness statements or contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
Exchange insurance information with the driver of the other vehicle(s).
Notify your insurance company of the wreck.
“If you cannot collect this information because you or a loved one is physically injured, don’t worry. You can obtain the information later,” Tuggle says.
After the Wreck...
Step 3: Continue to collect information. You should continue to collect evidence even after the episode is over by gathering the following documents:
Medical bills, records, and receipts for medical equipment
Documentation of lost wages, if any
A copy of the police report
Medical bills also include co-pays and other out-of-pocket costs. Medical records include hospital, doctor, and therapy records.
“Medical equipment receipts can include things like a shower chair or walker purchased as a result of the accident,” explains Tuggle. “Also, keep a journal of your treatment and injuries. Note the changes in your routine and how the accident has impacted your daily life.”
It is also imperative that you continue treatment per doctor’s orders.
“If therapy is ordered, complete the recommended course of therapy sessions,” he advises. “If you are not compliant with doctor orders, your claims may be discredited.”
Regarding your official incident report, there are three main ways to obtain a copy. You may request a copy online, show up in person at the Georgia Highway Patrol office, or ask your lawyer to get it for you. Police reports typically indicate what caused the wreck, and the report may also include information regarding road conditions, traffic conditions, and vehicle maneuvers.
“The police use codes to describe certain important details,” explains Tuggle. “An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to decipher the report for you if you are unclear.”
Step 4: Actions to avoid. In addition to what you should do following a wreck, Tuggle provides key insights about actions to avoid afterward:
Limit statements about the wreck.
Limit posts on social media.
Be aware of Private Investigators.
The other driver’s insurance company may call you and ask you for a report of what occurred. They want to limit damages and may ask questions directed to limit their liability to you.
“It is essential to speak to an attorney before giving a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. Some statements can be perceived as admitting fault or negligence,” Tuggle cautions.
If you are alleging injuries from a car wreck, you should not be seen on social media participating in activities that negate your claim. We tend to present the best versions of ourself on social media that don’t tell the whole story. An insurance company will exploit this tendency to their advantage.
“Be smart. Social media posts can be used against you to discredit your injuries,” he advises.
Like any insurance claim, your injuries will need to be confirmed. If there are inconsistencies in reports around your injuries, a private investigator may surveil you to confirm that you are actually injured, trying to catch evidence of things, like you carrying heavy bags into your home, all while claiming a back or shoulder injury.
Car wrecks are traumatizing, no matter the circumstance. The team at WBW understands that hiring an attorney after you or a loved one has been hurt in a wreck can seem like an intimidating task, but we are here to help. We strive to be attentive and empathetic to each of our client’s needs. Let us assist you with navigating your personal injury case.
Call us today at 229-226-2161 to schedule a free consultation.