Most people will be involved in a car accident at some point in their lives. The majority of these crashes are nothing more than minor fender benders, but some accidents are much more serious. Regardless of the type of crash you are in, there are several steps you must take to protect yourself, and any future personal injury claim you may file. Below, our Illinois car accident lawyer explains the most important steps to take.
Contact Jerome, Salmi & Kopis, LLC today to talk with a lawyer who can help you through the process.
Stop the Vehicle and Move It to a Safe Place
Even in the most minor of collisions, it is critical that you stop as soon as possible and pull your vehicle over to a safe spot. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a criminal offense, so if the crash did not stop your vehicle, it is important you do. It is also important to move the vehicle if it is in the middle of the road, so it does not cause a secondary crash.
Calling 911 after a car accident will ensure you get the official help you need. Law enforcement will visit the scene and write an accident report. The police report is very important, as it can indicate which party was negligent and therefore, liable for paying damages.
After you call 911, an ambulance or other medical help will also visit the scene. It is of critical importance you receive the necessary medical treatment after an accident. Not only is your safety and well-being the highest priority after a crash, but documenting your injuries with medical records will help you prove your case and claim the full damages you deserve.
Exchange Information with All Other Drivers
You must exchange certain information with any other driver involved in the crash. This includes your names, addresses, and contact information. You should also exchange your insurance information and driver’s license numbers. Your lawyer will need this information when helping you pursue the damages you deserve. While it is important to exchange this information, do not say too much after the crash and do not accept or assign blame. There will be time to determine who is liable for the crash, but when you are at the side of the road it is not the time.
Collect Information from Witnesses
Few accidents happen when there is no one else around. If other motorists, passengers, pedestrians, or cyclists saw the accident, locate them and collect their names and contact information. Their testimony can greatly help prove your case when filing a claim with an insurance company, or in court.
Gather Evidence from the Scene
Some of the best evidence of a car crash is at the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the damage done to any vehicles involved, as well as anything else that is relevant, such as skid marks on the road or bumpers on the road. Take several individual pictures, as well as photos that capture the accident scene as a whole. Also take photographs of any injuries you sustained.
Start a Journal
If you have suffered serious injuries, you may not know or remember what happened at the accident scene, and memories can start to fade quickly even after a minor crash. As soon as possible, start a journal, with any detail you can remember about how the accident happened. Also document within the journal the injuries you suffered, and how they are having an impact on your daily life. This will ensure you include all of your losses within your claim.
Call Your Insurance Company
Illinois car accidents are governed by tort law, which means you can file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company to obtain damages. However, even though you need to claim damages through the other driver’s insurer, you should still call your own insurance company. Most insurance policies dictate this and if you do not, the insurer may have the right to cancel your policy.
It is important to not provide your insurance company with too many details at this time. Simply tell them that an accident occurred, where it happened, and when it happened. Saying too much to any insurance company can be used against you in the future, so it is important to stick to only the basics. If the insurance company pressures you for more information than you are comfortable giving, direct them to your Illinois car accident lawyer.
Do Not Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
While your own insurance company will not have your best interests at heart after a crash, the insurer covering the negligent driver will work even harder against you. The other driver’s insurance company will contact you soon after the crash and they will act very friendly and as though they want to help you. They do not. They want you to say something incriminating that they can hold against you to shield themselves from paying full damages.
For example, if you say that the other driver “came out of nowhere,” they may use that against you to argue that you did not see them because you were not looking at the road. Never speak to the other driver’s insurance company. Instead, direct them to your car accident lawyer, who will know what to say, and what not to say.
Create a Filing System for Documents
Medical records, receipts, and communication from the insurance company are just a few types of documentation you will need to keep after an accident. It is important to create a filing system early on in the process so you know where to keep this documentation and can ensure it is all stored in one place.
Call Jerome, Salmi & Kopis LLC
Call Jerome, Salim & Kopis LLC. One of our lawyers will negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf and help you claim the full settlement you deserve. If you have been hurt, our skilled attorneys at the Law Office of Jerome Salmi Kopis can advise you of your legal options and help you through the personal injury process. Call us today at (618) 726-2222 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.