“I’ve been in a car crash! What should I do?!” Any car accident, even a minor fender bender, can be a stressful experience with financial and legal implications. It’s hard to know what to do when emotions run high and there is a lot of chaos and debris. However, there are five steps that every Wisconsin driver should take after a car accident to protect themselves, both legally and financially.
Stay where you are
Do not move your vehicle right away (unless there is an impending danger). Wait for a police officer to instruct you to do so. Take pictures of the accident scene (for future reference), vehicles (including damage), and any other pertinent markings or landmarks (i.e. surrounding buildings, skid marks, etc.) Call 911 to report the accident.
If you feel well enough to move around, get information from the other driver, including their name, phone number, address, and insurance information. DO NOT say anything else to other drivers or bystanders, as any statements can have a negative impact as you try to get reparations for the accident. Ask other eyewitnesses that stop for their name and phone number (or, in lieu of personal information, their car license plate number).
Answer all questions
When the emergency responders arrive, answer all their questions. Give them your name, driver’s license, registration and insurance information, towing instructions, and any information about your injuries. Mention any headaches, backaches, or neck pain (all are common injuries that stem from a car accident).
Seek medical care
If you think you may be injured in any way, request medical assistance after the car accident. Follow the advice of all medical personnel at the scene and after; be completely honest with all personnel and mention any issues you are having. Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor after the accident to address any injuries and long-term medical needs. Remember that many injuries (including soft tissue injuries) do not show up until a few days after the accident. Take photos of all injuries (i.e. cuts, bruises, casts, etc.)
Consult an experienced local lawyer
It’s not uncommon for the other driver’s insurance company to contact other drivers after an accident. Often, they ask for information; give them only the basic information. Do not make a statement until you have contacted a lawyer. (Give all information to your insurance company.) The other driver’s insurance company may offer an early settlement amount. Even though you are tempted, often these early settlement offers do not cover all your long-term expenses (i.e. chiropractor appointments, specialist visits, etc.)
Instead, contact an experienced local lawyer with experience in personal injury cases. Give them all the information about the accident and any injuries. As you receive follow-up care, save receipts and paperwork from all practitioners and visits. Ask your lawyer for deadlines when they need paperwork to ensure that you can reach a satisfying resolution.