When you have been in a car accident, the last thing on your mind is how to protect your rights to seek compensation. In the first moments your primary concern will be making sure that you and your passengers haven’t been injured, and if they have, you will be focused on making sure that everyone gets the medical help they need. Even in a relatively minor accident, it is common for people to be in a state of shock which clouds their thinking and makes everything seem unreal. However, the moments and hours after an accident are very important to establishing your potential claim for compensation – it is during that time that the circumstances of the accident can be documented and when the events are fresh in the minds of any witnesses. For this reason, if at all possible, you should keep the following things in mind. With a careful record of the accident, you can help lawyers like the Boston law firm of Kelly & Soto build the strongest possible case for compensation.
Seek medical assistance
Even if injuries seem minor, be sure to seek medical assistance at the scene if possible. Many people who have been seriously injured report having had no awareness of their injuries as a result of shock. Be sure that you and your passengers are seen by any medical staff on site, and be sure to keep any reports that you are given. If possible, get the name and contact information for the person who has examined you. Sometimes, injuries such as internal bleeding or spinal cord injuries don’t manifest until hours later, and the first person who examined you may be able to offer important insights to follow-up care providers.
Call the police and insurance providers
In the case of serious accidents, the chances are that the police will be called by a witness to the accident. However, in less serious accidents or fender benders, it might be up to you to call the police – and you should absolutely do so, even if the other driver tries to argue against it. This will be the first opportunity to create an official record of the circumstances leading up to the accident. You should also be sure to immediately call your insurance provider to report the accident. The company may wish to send its own investigator immediately to the site, and may also have protocols in place to assist you on the spot.
Talk to witnesses
If there are witnesses to accident, do your best to speak to them about what they witnessed as soon as possible. Witnesses are typically very willing to share what they saw, but tend to be less willing to wait for extended periods of time before police arrive to take their statements. If possible try to quickly take notes about what witnesses saw and ask for contact information so that they may be contacted by police at a later time.
Document the accident
If possible, take pictures of accident site, including the vehicles involved, any debris on the road, damage to the road or barricades, lighting conditions, signage, and anything else that you notice at the scene. Do not move your vehicle from the site, nor collect any items from your car that may have been thrown to the road.
It is difficult to think about protecting your rights in the immediate aftermath of an accident. However, there is no better time to do so, because you will have only one opportunity to document the events first-hand. The next order of business should be to contact a lawyer to establish the record so that you will more easily be able to get any compensation you may be entitled to.