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Whether you’re in a smaller car accident that doesn’t result in any serious injuries or a much more severe car accident, it’s important that you know what steps you need to take following the crash to 1) ensure that you’re operating within the confines of the law and 2) protect your right to recover compensation, especially if the accident was not your fault. Consider the following steps to take after a car accident, and please reach out to our experienced Schaumburg car accident lawyers if you have additional questions.

Take a Breath

Being involved in a car accident can be terrifying. It’s highly likely that in the immediate aftermath of a crash, your nerves have the best of you–you may even be literally trembling. While feeling panicked, nervous, and worked up are all very common, you need to find a way to calm yourself so that you can do all of the things that need to be done with a clear head. In the seconds right after a crash, take a second to take a few deep breaths and calm down. 

Assess for Injuries 

The next thing that you need to do is to check whether you or anyone in your vehicle has been injured. If it is safe to do so, you should also check whether anyone else has been injured, such as any pedestrians who might have been involved in the crash, as well as the driver and passengers of the other vehicle. 

Call 911 

If anyone has any injuries, you need to call 911 and request an ambulance immediately. If the injuries are life-threatening, the operator may guide you through steps to take to administer basic medical care while you wait for help to arrive.

Even if no one’s injuries are life-threatening, you should still call 911 while you are at the scene of the accident. It is important that police arrive at the scene and conduct a short preliminary investigation while both vehicles are present.

Move Your Vehicle 

If instructed to do so by police or/and moving your vehicle is possible and is the safest choice, you should move your vehicle off to the side of the road where it is not at high risk of being involved in a secondary collision. If, and only if, it is safe to do so, consider taking photographs of vehicles in their original positions or leaving your vehicle where it is. The position of vehicles after a crash can provide some clues about how an accident occurred and who might have been at fault. However, leaving vehicles in their original position is not always safe, and therefore this should not be done if there are risks of being hit by oncoming traffic. 

Check for Damages

Once you are in a safe location to do so and you have called the police and are waiting for them to arrive, you should assess for damages to your vehicle and the vehicle of the other driver. If you have a smartphone with a camera, this is the perfect time to whip it out and start taking pictures of your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle from different angles. You can also check for damages to other types of property, such as a sign that was hit. If you or anyone in your vehicle has suffered any injuries that are visible to the naked eye, you should photograph these as well. 

Gather Evidence While Waiting for Police to Arrive 

As you wait for the police to arrive, take advantage of the time to start gathering evidence. The evidence that is gathered can be crucial to building your claim, proving fault, and proving damages. At the very least, you should document the following:

  • The name and driver’s license information of the other driver
  • The make, model, color, and license plate number of the other vehicle involved in the crash
  • The date, time, and weather and lighting conditions during the crash
  • The names and contact information of any eyewitnesses
  • Where the crash occurred
  • Your version of how you believe the crash occurred

If there are other types of evidence that you can gather, such as photos of skid marks, and your injuries do not preclude you from doing so, you should do this, too.

File the Police Report and Request a Copy  

When the police arrive on the scene, you should file a police report that includes your version of the events. You should also write down the name and badge number of the responding officer and request a copy of the police report for your own records. Note that reporting an accident is also required under the law. 

Get Medical Care As Soon As Possible

If your injuries are serious, it is likely that you will be unable to complete the above actions; you may be too incapacitated to do so. If this is the case, a personal injury attorney/car accident attorney can gather evidence on your behalf at a later date.

If your injuries are not life-threatening or disabling, you still need to seek medical care. Getting medical care may seem unnecessary, especially if you feel fine. However, getting medical care could be critical. Sometimes, certain injuries, like internal injuries and traumatic brain injuries, aren’t always immediately apparent, especially when combined with the shock and adrenaline of a crash. If you don’t seek medical care, you could be putting your own health and wellbeing in jeopardy.

And that’s not the only reason to seek medical care; getting medical treatment may be important later on if you file a claim for injuries. If you don’t seek medical care immediately after a crash and then later attempt to seek compensation for physical injuries from an insurance provider, the insurance adjuster will no doubt question whether or not the injuries actually stemmed from the car accident or something else. Seeking medical care even when you don’t think you’re seriously harmed protects your right to file a claim at a later date should you need to.

Notify Your Insurance Company 

The next thing that you should do is to call your car insurance company and provide them with notice of the accident. From here, your insurance company will conduct an investigation into the crash and will communicate with the other driver’s insurance company too. If you don’t notify your insurance company in a reasonable amount of time, though, it won’t have time to conduct its own investigation and may have grounds to deny your claim as such. We recommend notifying an insurance company of a crash as soon as possible after it happens, preferably within 24 hours of its occurrence. 

Consider Whether or Not You Need an Attorney

At this point, you have done all of the basic foundational steps that are necessary to take after a crash. But there’s still something else to think about: Do you need to hire a Schaumburg car accident lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer is a very personal choice. In most cases, though, hiring an attorney is one way to improve the outcome of your case and get the legal support you need throughout the claims process. You should consider hiring an attorney if any of the following are true:

  • Your damages are severe. If you have been severely injured, working with an attorney is strongly recommended. Not only may your damages total into the hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) when accounting for the value of your medical expenses, property damage costs, lost wages, and pain, suffering, and emotional distress, but also the more valuable your claim, the more pushback you’re likely to receive from the insurance company. The job of an insurance adjuster is to find ways to reduce the value of your claim and save the insurance company money.
  • Fault is disputed. Illinois is an at-fault car insurance state, which essentially means that drivers who cause accidents are responsible for paying for them. If the other driver was at fault for your accident–and therefore your damages–then they can be held liable for costs that you incur. If fault is disputed, though, then you may be unable to recover the settlement that you deserve, or your claim could be denied altogether. This is a top reason to hire an attorney.
  • The other driver doesn’t have insurance. Even if fault isn’t disputed and all parties agree that the other driver was to blame, if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you may have a hard time recouping the damages that you’re owed. Your attorney can work with you to explore other avenues of compensation and other methods for having your out-of-pocket expenses reduced–for example, asking a hospital to forgive a portion of your bills.

Call Our Schaumburg Car Accident Attorney Today 

If you’ve been in a crash and are unsure of what to do or whether or not you need an attorney, you can call our Schaumburg car accident lawyer at the office of Claim Your Justice today for a free consultation. We are happy to sit down with you and review your case at no cost, as well as make a recommendation about how you might want to proceed. To learn more, please call us directly or send us a message telling us more about your case online. We are here for you.

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