What to Do After an Accident

What to Do After an Accident

Accidents can result from someone’s negligence, wrongdoing, or bad judgment. Those who believe they are victims of an accident (auto, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, pedestrian, or slip-and-fall) may seek financial compensation by filing a claim against the at-fault party. A personal injury lawyer can help victims navigate the claims process and investigate the incident to prove the at-fault party’s liability.

Get A Free Consultation

Table of Contents

There are things you must do, things you should do, and things not to do after an injury-causing incident.

For example, in Pennsylvania, the state laws mandate filing a report for any car accident that:

  • Leaves someone injured or deceased
  • Prevents the vehicle(s) from moving away from the scene without tow assistance
  • Involves a school bus
  • Damages city or state property

The legal requirements governing motor vehicle accidents are state-specific and sometimes impose a fine for failing to comply. A personal injury attorney can clarify what to do post-accident to ensure you comply with the law. When it comes to claiming reimbursement against a negligent person, knowledge is power.

Personal Safety Is a High Priority in Any Accident

No matter the accident, contact professional medical assistance for life-threatening injuries.

These may include:

  • Unconscious victims
  • Head or spine trauma
  • Severe bleeding
  • Burns
  • Crush-type injuries
  • Obvious fractures
  • Inability to walk without assistance

If small children (young enough to be in a car seat) are involved in a motor vehicle accident, wait for paramedics to remove them from the car seat. They may have injuries not easily seen.

What to Do After a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Experienced Lawyer for Motor Vehicle Accident in Philadelphia

Call for emergency assistance and law enforcement, and ask if you should move the involved vehicles. As a general rule moving a vehicle damaged in an accident is permissible (and sometimes required) if there is no obvious injury and the vehicle is drivable and can be moved without risk to others. Remain at the scene until the police or sheriff arrives, and get the name of the responding officer, their badge number, and how and where to pick up a copy of the official accident report.

Why a Police Report Is Important After a Motor Vehicle Accident?

The accident report is an unbiased account by a person trained to investigate roadway accidents.

In addition to containing the names, license numbers, and available insurance information for all parties involved, it should provide additional valuable information, such as:

  • A diagram of the scene
  • The time, date, and weather conditions
  • Traffic conditions
  • A diagram showing the placement of all vehicles
  • Visible damage to the vehicles
  • Obvious injuries
  • Witness contact information
  • Any statements made
  • If any citations were issued

Pursuing a car accident claim can be challenging without this valuable unbiased evidence. The police report is a powerful document.

What to Do After a Personal Injury Slip and Fall Accident?

According to the Centers For Disease Control:

  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries
  • More than 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall
  • More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling

While motor vehicle accidents predominately happen on our roadways, a slip-and-fall accident can happen anywhere city sidewalks, public buildings, business offices, grocery and retail stores, movie theaters, amusement parks, hotels, vacation rentals, parking lots, and the list goes on. Once medical issues are addressed, report the incident to the property owner or manager.

Document everything with pictures: no detail is too small, and anything can be important. In a slip-and-fall injury, the shoes an accident victim wears can, and probably will, become evidence in a personal injury claim. Snap a photo of them while still on the ground, then save and preserve them. If you decide to file a claim, your lawyer will thank you.

Additional details to photograph (both up close and from a distance) that may help an injury claim include:

  • The location of the fall
  • Photos of the surrounding area
  • Any obvious safety violations (broken handrails, torn carpet, cracks in the sidewalk, etc.)
  • Spilled liquids
  • Uneven pavement
  • Poor lighting

Evidence can disappear quickly after an injury-causing fall. If possible, ask the property owner to preserve any security video footage. This step is something a personal injury attorney can assist with.

Document Everything You Can

Accidents are painful, disorienting, confusing, and frequently overwhelming. However, gathering and documenting evidence is important do whatever you can when you can.

Make good use of your cell phone and take a picture of:

  • Physical injuries to all persons involved
  • The make and models of all cars involved
  • License plates
  • The road condition
  • The position of all vehicles in relation to each other
  • The position of all cars relative to the street
  • Damage to your car from different angles, including the interior
  • Damage to other vehicles
  • Nearby traffic signs, security cameras, lights
  • Any damages to adjacent property or roadway signage
  • Roadway debris (broken glass, car parts)
  • Skid marks
  • All persons standing or working in the vicinity

Retrieve Important Papers

Before leaving the scene of an accident, remove any important papers and documents from the glove box. These items may include proof of insurance and vehicle registration.

Notify Your Insurer

Accident victims must contact their insurance carrier immediately after an accident. Until legal liability is established, accident victims may need their coverage for medical expenses and vehicle repairs. Not notifying your carrier could prevent you from using your policy and may cause cancellation of coverage. You need this coverage if the negligent person’s insurance uses underhanded tactics to stall or deny payment.

A personal injury accident lawyer can handle communications with insurance companies to help you navigate the claims process.

See Your Physician

Refusing or delaying medical care can be costly after a personal injury. Even if injuries appear minor following a car accident or a slip-and-fall incident, accident victims should see a physician as soon as possible.

Underestimating the severity of injuries can result in long-term costs and consequences. Not all injuries appear at the accident scene; some can take days or weeks to present themselves. An accident victim can have a severe injury and not know it, so timely medical attention can help your recovery and claim for damages.

At stressful times, adrenaline and endorphins give a victim a boost of energy and temporarily mask pain. Internal organ damage is not easily recognizable but possibly deadly if not addressed. Seemingly minor injuries, like a bump on the head, can sometimes become significant health problems. While a crash victim may not feel much pain immediately following an accident, a concussion may be a warning sign of a traumatic brain injury.

Diagnostic testing such as radiology studies, MRI imaging, and CT scans become valuable evidence to substantiate and validate an insurance claim. Failure to have a proper and thorough medical exam following an accident can result in insurance company denials or reductions and reduced settlement amounts.

Create a Personal Written Record

A lot is at stake when considering a personal injury claim after a motor vehicle accident or a slip-and-fall. Those seriously injured in an accident may have a legal claim for damages against the at-fault person for the costs associated with the following:

The Cost of Medical Treatment and Expenses Resulting From Physical Injury

This can include hospital bills, physician’s charges, surgical fees, ambulance transport, and diagnostic testing.

Damage to Personal Property

In addition to the cost of vehicle repairs or replacement, an accident victim may be able to claim losses for clothing, jewelry, and electronics.

Counseling and Rehabilitation

Following an accident, many people can experience emotional distress. After an accident, you may notice increased stress, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, anguish, fearfulness, sleep issues, or reoccurring nightmares about the crash.

Psychological, mental health services and physical and occupational therapy are expensive and may be compensable.

Loss of Income

Income lost due to an accident can also include missed raises, lost bonuses, and the loss of company-paid benefits like profit-sharing contributions and insurance coverage.

Loss of Earning Potential

When an accident victim cannot return to their chosen profession, the cost of job retraining may contribute to an insurance claim.

Keep a Record of Everything

Write it all down when you write down details of the accident in a journal or diary, you can document critical facts. Everything you do and experience is important, and every inconvenience is significant. Start at the beginning, and record what happened immediately before the accident.

Keep a detailed record of medical appointments that include the treating physician, the date and time of each appointment, the treatments received, and the prognosis for recovery.

Other items to include in a post-accident journal are:

  • Pain level details
  • Types of activities you can no longer participate in
  • If daily living is problematic
  • How the accident affects your family structure
  • How the accident affects your emotional state

Keep a detailed record, and receipts, for:

  • Property damage and repair expenses
  • Lost income as a result of your injuries
  • Medical expenses
  • Accident-related expenses

What Not to Do After Any Injury Causing Accident?

Protect your legal rights following a personal injury by contacting a personal injury attorney.

Before you have legal representation, avoid:

  • Speaking to the other driver’s insurance company.
  • Making any statement that could indicate an admission of fault, such as saying, “I’m sorry.”
  • Becoming aggressive or combative at the accident scene.
  • Giving a written or recorded statement to anyone other than the police.
  • Authorizing the release of past medical history.
  • Signing a release form without legal review.
  • Posting anything about the accident on a social media platform.
  • Accepting a quick settlement offer.

What an Accident Victim Should Know About Insurance Companies Even Their Own

Insurance is a for-profit industry. Insurance claims adjusters work to pay out the least possible amount of money in the fastest amount of time. They are more concerned with their bottom line than a claimant’s financial recovery. A talented and tenacious personal injury lawyer understands how important your pain and suffering is to your comprehensive financial recovery.

Gabriel Levin Lawyer for Motor Vehicle Accidents Cases near Philadelphia
Gabriel Levin, Motor Vehicle Accidents in Philadelphia

How to Prepare for Motor Vehicle Accidents?

Be proactive and prepared for roadside emergencies. In addition to your driver’s insurance information and vehicle registration, some things to keep in the glove box include emergency medical information for all family members (medical conditions, required medications, allergies) and a list of emergency contacts. An emergency kit in the trunk of each family vehicle may come in handy.

It should contain:

  • First aid supplies
  • A pen and paper
  • A flashlight with extra batteries
  • Emergency flares
  • A whistle
  • A basic tool kit
  • A reflective vest
  • Blanket
  • A bag of sand
  • A change of clothing
  • Snack foods
  • Latex gloves
  • Water

If you or a family member must navigate the consequences of a catastrophic injury due to another’s negligence, ask a personal injury attorney in Philadelphia to answer your questions and tell you about your legal right to pursue financial compensation.

Get A Free Consultation Today!