No matter what kind of accident you were involved in, the guidelines for what to do after an accident are the same:
- Get medical help for yourself and anyone else who needs it
- Collect information pertaining to your injury and the liable party
- Say as little as possible to other parties in the crash
- Contact an attorney about your legal rights
Medical Help After an Accident Is Critical
Your health should come before all else. Personal injuries can be life-threatening. You should dial 911 immediately if:
- You are in a lot of pain.
- You have an obvious and severe injury.
- Another person involved in the accident has an obvious and severe injury.
- You want to be cautious.
Even if you do not need emergency aid, you should make plans to see your own doctor as soon as possible, just to make sure you have not sustained any serious injuries without realizing it.
When you see a doctor, tell them exactly how your injury happened, and then follow all of their instructions closely. This can:
- Allow the doctor to treat you more effectively
- Improve your chances of recovering well
- Create a medical record that you can use as evidence in a legal action
- Establish a connection between the accident and your injury
Collect Information After an Accident
Assuming you are well enough to stay at the scene for a while, you can collect evidence that you can use if you decide to take legal action. This could include:
- Taking photos of your injuries, the accident scene, and your vehicle (if applicable)
- Getting contact and insurance information from the person who caused your accident
- Getting contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident
It may not always be safe or feasible to collect this type of information. For example, maybe you were hit by a driver who fled the scene, or maybe your cell phone was damaged in the accident, so you cannot take pictures.
Do not worry if you cannot collect much (or any) evidence at the scene. While doing so can be helpful, it is not imperative. A personal injury attorney can still find evidence to build your case.
Limit What You Say After an Accident
Until you hire an attorney, it is usually a good idea to speak about the accident as little as possible. This is because the liable party can use anything you say to try and show you do not deserve compensation.
Here are a few examples of what you should and should not say after an accident:
- If the police were called to the accident scene, answer all of their questions as honestly as possible, but keep your answers brief and factual. Do not speculate. If you do not know something, say so.
- Do not apologize to the liable party or downplay your injuries. You can make sure the liable party is all right and ask them for relevant information.
- Do not mention or post pictures of the accident on social media.
- If an insurance company contacts you, tell your lawyer immediately. Do not say anything to the insurer except that they should contact your lawyer in all future communications.
Hiring a Lawyer After an Accident
Your accident could entitle you to monetary compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering—both past and future. A personal injury attorney’s team can tell you more about your right to compensation and what steps you should take to pursue it.
You can start searching for law firms from the comfort of your own home. Many firms offer free case reviews that can be done over the phone. If they agree you have a viable case, you can:
- Arrange a time to meet with them in person.
- Ask them any questions you have about their experience and their strategy, as well as the worth of your case.
- Decide if this is a firm you can work with for weeks or months—however long it takes to complete your case.
Hiring an attorney could save you from having to investigate and negotiate your case all alone. A lawyer may also prevent you from making avoidable mistakes that could delay your case unnecessarily.
Act Fast After an Accident
State law generally gives you three years to file a lawsuit, per CPLR § 214. While exceptions and extensions exist, it is not a good idea to leave everything until the last minute.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed or confused by everything you have to do after an accident. However, swift action is essential if you want to receive fair compensation for all you have lost. Allowing an attorney to do all of the legal work can make it easier for you to secure justice and damages.
After an Accident, Call Shulman & Hill
Shulman & Hill can help you figure out what to do after an accident. We can even fight for appropriate compensation while you stay focused on recovering. Dial (555) 555-5555 for a free case evaluation.