Car accidents are traumatic and unexpected, and can even happen to the most careful of drivers. They often lead to minimal property damage, minor injuries, or catastrophic and potentially life-changing injuries. Because they’re so stress-inducing, it’s easy for many drivers to feel overwhelmed and unintentionally do things that might negatively affect their compensation.
As a driver in St. Louis, it’s essential to know your rights and the legal steps to take to protect yourself and your loved ones. Here is a list of things to do after a car accident.
Ensure Everyone Involved Is Safe
One of the first things you should do after a car accident is to make sure you and everyone else involved is safe. Check yourself and those around you for injuries, then call 911 to have an ambulance and police sent over.
According to Missouri law, you’re required to stay at the scene until the authorities arrive. If you leave, you’ll be charged with a “hit and run” and could face severe penalties—like jail time and fines.
Get Medical Attention
If you’ve come out of the accident relatively unscathed, you might be tempted to skip the medical checkup, thinking you’re in peak health. However, this is usually not the case. Many people tend to experience delayed injuries, which could be attributed to the rush of adrenaline that comes with traumatic events like accidents or the way your body responds to stress.
Ensure your medical checkup happens within 72 hours of the accident since most insurance companies consider that to be a reasonable timeframe to get your injuries checked. It also improves your chances of getting decent compensation.
To protect yourself from future claims from other people involved in the accident, it’s crucial to document the accident. Keep a record of what happened by taking pictures of the scene if you can or writing up a summary of what happened. Insurance companies will want to know details of the accident, so having a record makes it easier to remember the details and support your claim. Some other documents you need to keep in order include medical records, loss of income (if any), and police reports.
Remember to keep your documents in order to avoid future confusion and to improve your chances of a reasonable settlement.
Contact a Qualified Attorney
Your next step should be to report the accident to your insurance company and get in touch with a reliable lawyer. Consulting a lawyer early on will give them plenty of time to build your case and prepare.
Keep in mind that the other party’s insurance company might reach out and try to get you to settle for less, so remember to avoid speaking to other insurance companies. Even if you’re not looking to get compensation, it’s always wise to be cautious and get a lawyer. The other party involved might try to get compensation from you or take you to court.
Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident comes with its own complications, and you might not always have the bandwidth to deal with it on your own. That’s why you need a reliable law firm like Craig J. Concannon, P.C., to have your back. Reach out to us at 314-421-3329 and schedule a consultation.