Getting into a car crash is an overwhelming and stressful experience, no matter who is responsible or how serious the damages are. A car crash occurs every five seconds across the U.S, so most drivers will be involved in a car accident at some point in their lives, and often more than once.
Learn the steps to take after a car accident in Indiana and how a car accident attorney from Wagner Reese can help you recover damages from the crash.
What to Do After Getting in a Car Accident
The shock of a car accident may cause you to forget what to do immediately after the collision. Thankfully the steps are relatively simple in most cases: pull over, call the police, and get the other driver’s information. Use our comprehensive guide for the actions to take if you’ve been involved in a car crash.
- Don’t Panic, and Make Sure Everyone Is Okay
It’s normal to feel frightened after a car accident, but it’s essential to keep a clear head to handle the aftermath. Take a deep breath, pull over somewhere safe if possible, and check whether you or any passengers in your car are injured. Once you’ve accounted for everyone in your vehicle, check on the people in the other car.
If someone in the other car was injured or trapped in the crash, Indiana Code § 9-26-1-1.1(a) requires you to provide reasonable assistance to ensure their safety. Call 911 so the operator can walk you through how to help.
- Call the Police
Always call 911 to report the car accident. Even if nobody is injured, you will need the police to file an accident report for your insurance company. The police will come to the scene to fill out the accident report.
The accident report contains details of the crash, including the people, property, and vehicles involved, a drawn diagram of the accident, witness statements, and the officer’s preliminary conclusions about the cause.
- Gather Evidence and Exchange Information
Indiana is an at-fault state, meaning the driver deemed liable for the car accident is responsible for covering the other driver’s damages. Make sure that you write down or take pictures of the other driver’s:
- Contact information
- Insurance company
- Insurance policy number
- Driver’s license
- License plate number
Also, take pictures of the damage to your car, any damaged property, and any injuries you sustained. If you have a dashcam, save the footage from the accident and back it up onto another device.
- Seek Medical Treatment
Once the accident report has been filed, it’s essential to seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you’ve been injured. Being in a car accident triggers the release of adrenaline, which can prevent you from feeling the pain of any injuries right away. Additionally, sometimes injuries from a car accident, such as brain trauma, can take a few hours or days to become apparent.
- Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
The consequences of a car accident can be severe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Indiana had 13.28 deaths in traffic accidents for every 100,000 residents in 2020. Those who survive crashes may face serious injuries, lifelong disabilities, and need long-term, expensive medical treatment.
Getting in touch with a personal injury attorney at Wagner Reese Injury Lawyers is crucial if you’ve been in a serious car accident. A lawyer can help you recover compensation for your medical bills and prove why the other driver was at fault in the crash.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
Specific actions can negatively impact your ability to get compensation from the insurance company after a crash. Avoid the following actions post-collision to improve your chances of receiving a fair settlement:
- Don’t Leave the Accident Scene
Even if everyone seems uninjured and the cars aren’t damaged, never leave the accident scene without filing a police report. Indiana law requires you to remain at the scene to exchange information with other drivers and speak with the police. If anyone is injured, you must call 911. Fleeing the scene of an injury accident can result in criminal charges.
- Don’t Admit Fault
Admitting responsibility for the crash is an easy way to lose your chance for compensation. Even a statement like, “I’m so sorry,” can easily be used by the other driver’s insurer or attorney to prove that you’re liable for the car accident.
- Don’t Downplay Your Injuries
Avoid downplaying your injuries as minor, especially if you are unsure. If you misrepresent your injuries or delay medical treatment, you give the negligent party’s insurance company or attorney an opening to claim that your injuries aren’t serious, lessening your possible compensation.
You may also have injuries, such as a concussion, that don’t show symptoms immediately. If you downplay your injuries before you know their true extent by being looked at by a doctor, you may miss out on the compensation you’re owed.
- Don’t Pursue an Injury Claim without a Car Accident Lawyer
If scratched paint or a minor dent are the worst of your damages, it’s reasonable to forgo an attorney. However, if you or a loved one were seriously injured, not getting a lawyer can prevent you from receiving the full compensation you need after the crash. You may miss important filing deadlines or feel pressured into accepting a settlement for less than your damages.
Hiring a lawyer ensures you don’t have to deal with manipulative insurance companies or lowball settlement offers. It also means you have a skilled professional working on your behalf to gather evidence and negotiate for compensation.
Schedule Your Free Car Accident Consultation
You don’t have to handle the aftermath of a car accident alone. The Indianapolis car accident lawyers at Wagner Reese Injury Lawyers are ready to represent you and fight for the compensation you deserve. We will help you recoup the cost of damages incurred in the accident, including medical bills for serious injuries and pain and suffering.
Request a free consultation today to discuss your claim and learn your next steps.