A Checklist for What to Do after a Car Accident

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What to Do After a Washington Car Accident

There are numerous things car accident victims need to do after a major crash, from the moment of impact on forward until the claim is settled. Adrenaline, injuries, fear, shock, and confusion will be high after a serious accident, and it’s helpful to have a checklist from our Kirkland car accident attorney to rely on to help you make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

At the Scene of the Car Wreck person with broken arm in a cast and wrecked car behind them

Immediately after an accident, try to breathe, stay calm, and perform the following steps if you’re able:

  • assess the situation - if seriously injured, don’t move;
  • move to a safe location out of traffic if you’re able;
  • call 911 - await authorities to arrive;
  • help any other wounded victims if practicable, but avoid moving them if injuries are severe;
  • obtain medical care - even if you don’t think your injuries are extensive, you’ll want to get a medical evaluation;
  • provide the necessary information to the police;
  • take photos or videos of the scene, the wreckage, and injuries;
  • write down the other drivers’ information - name, contact info, drivers’ license number, and insurance information;
  • speak to witnesses and write down their contact info; and
  • ask the police officer for a copy of the accident report.

Seek Medical Treatment Immediately if Injured

It is extremely important to seek medical treatment after an accident. 

  • If you feel pain immediately at the scene of the accident – If you have sustained serious injuries, you will most likely be sent via ambulance directly to the hospital. Make sure you get in to see your primary care doctor or go to urgent care as soon as you can following an accident. 
  • If you develop pain within 1-7 days after the accident – It is not uncommon to have adrenaline kick in when you have been in an accident. Often times you will not notice you are experiencing pain until a few hours or even the next day or two after the accident occurred. Make sure you get in to see a doctor as soon as you can after an accident whenever you have pain following a collision. 

It is important that a doctor documents any injuries as soon as possible after your accident. If you do not do this, the insurance company will often question if your injuries are real or as serious as they are.

One of the favorite defenses to an injury claim is that it couldn’t have been very bad if you didn’t go to the doctor until several days after the accident. Defeat this by going to the doctor ASAP. Without proper documentation of your injuries by a doctor, it is very difficult to convince an insurance company you were injured in the accident.

During the Aftermath of the Kirkland Accident

After the critical phase of the accident has passed, there are two important phone calls you’ll need to make:

  • Insurance company – Call your insurance company to report the accident. You will also want to open a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim so that your medical bills will be paid without any delay. Also, call the at-fault driver's insurer. You can provide basic information but avoid saying anything that places blame on yourself. In fact, if and when an insurance representative asks for a recorded interview with you, it’s perfectly acceptable to reschedule the call until after you’ve spoken with an attorney.
  • A local car accident attorney – if your accident has resulted in significant damages or serious injuries, call an accident attorney to review your case. A lawyer will be able to explain your rights and responsibilities, tell you the next steps you need to take and make sure you don’t make mistakes that could thwart any claims you file.

During the aftermath of your accident, begin an accident file in which you collect all pertinent accident and injury information. This could be handy for financial and legal purposes down the road.

Include things in your accident file such as:

  • your medical bills;
  • doctors’ notes and prognoses;
  • proof of your lost wages;
  • any and all receipts that are accident-related; and
  • all the info you compiled at the accident scene.

While Awaiting a Resolution to Your Case

After you and your attorney have filed your claim, it’s time to focus on doing everything you can to get better and heal as quickly as possible. Follow your doctor’s recommendations so your recovery process is as quick as possible.

If you suffered a major injury, cannot return to work, and are struggling to make ends meet while awaiting your injury recovery, you can talk to your attorney about financial options that may be available for personal injury victims. If you’re having trouble dealing with all the emotional repercussions of your accident, don’t hesitate to consult a mental health professional to help you cope.

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Max Meyers
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.