According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of Americans are injured in car accidents each year. Three out of four adults report having been in a car accident at some point in their lives. Knowing what to do after a car crash can go a long way toward minimizing your pain in the aftermath, including physical suffering, emotional distress, financial difficulties, and legal hassles.
It may be difficult to think clearly after an accident, especially if you are injured. Turn off your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights. Next, pause to collect your thoughts and do not panic. If you feel angry at the driver who hit you, stop yourself from expressing your anger at the scene of the accident. If you believe the accident may have been your fault, refrain from saying so. Anything you say can be used against you to prove you were at-fault or diminish the value of your potential claim.
Never leave the scene of an accident. In New Jersey, you must call the police if the accident results in death, injury, or at least $500 worth of damage. When the police arrive, you can minimize future legal hassles by cooperating fully and providing your name, address, car registration, license, and insurance card. If the officer issues you a traffic ticket; do not argue about it. Signing the citation is not an admission of guilt. However, you are under no legal obligation to answer questions about driving under the influence or any other action which may result in a criminal charge. You have the right to ask for attorney if an officer asks additional questions.
Move to a Safe Spot
If your accident is minor, move your car out of traffic. Otherwise, wait for the police to arrive. Be mindful that you may run the risk of getting hit again by other moving vehicles if you are on a highway. If it is safe to do so, walk over beyond the shoulder of the road until help arrives.
If you are not badly injured and you have your phone, take photos of the entire accident scene, if it is safe to do so. Include traffic lights, signs, and road conditions, such as a pothole. This information may prove vital to your personal injury claim and directly affect the amount of money you may receive. At some point, all vehicles involved will be towed away and you will lose the opportunity to collect critical evidence.
Speak calmly to the other drivers to obtain contact information, license plate numbers, drivers’ license numbers, and insurance information. Limit your conversation and do not say anything about the cause of the accident. Take note of the current weather conditions, the time of day, and the directions in which vehicles were headed. If other drivers exhibit signs of intoxication or admit fault, make notes.
Talk to Witnesses
If any one nearby saw the accident and you can speak with them, ask them for their contact information. Do not say anything to them about who may be at fault; just obtain their name and phone number and thank them for their help. While they are not legally obligated to help you, they may be more than willing to write out a simple statement about what they saw and heard, and sign and date it. This can be invaluable for supporting a personal injury claim.
Seek Medical Attention
When the police arrive, make a note of the officers’ names and badge numbers. If paramedics arrive and want to take you to the hospital, do not refuse. If you are not transported directly to a hospital, make an appointment to see your primary care physician as soon as possible. This is the best way to document your medical condition for potential injury claims. Injuries caused by the accident may not surface until later.
Contact Your Insurance Company
After you leave the scene of the crash, contact your insurance company and provide details about the accident. They may give you directions on filing a claim, however, you should not accept a settlement without speaking to a lawyer, or you may end up with less money than you deserve. If you do not contact your insurance company, they may consider it a breach of your policy. At that point, they might raise your rates or cancel your policy, creating additional financial distress.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Unless your accident was a minor fender bender with less than $500 damage, you probably need a lawyer. When insurance companies are involved, it is important to keep in mind that their goal is to minimize the amount of compensation they pay to claimants. Insurance companies are represented by lawyers and if you attempt to negotiate a settlement without professional legal help, you are at a significant disadvantage. A qualified lawyer can advocate for your rights and seek maximum compensation for your claim.
Take Care of Yourself
Muscle pain is common after a car accident. The sudden trauma of impact can wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system, and the effects often take days to appear. Staying hydrated is the first step in minimizing muscle pain and soreness after an accident. Your muscles will need extra fluid to heal after an accident, and they may cramp if you are dehydrated. Massage therapy, physical therapy, and stretching may also help. Speak with your physician about obtaining a prescription for physical therapy and get plenty of rest so your body has a chance to heal.
How Can a Lawyer Help Minimize My Pain After a Car Accident?
Physical pain, emotional distress, and financial difficulties are common after an accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you obtain financial compensation to pay for treatments needed to ease physical pain and heal faster. A strong legal advocate can also reduce emotional stress by handling interactions with insurance companies, as well as litigation, if that is required.
A skilled lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim seeking financial compensation for the following:
- Medical and dental bills
- Cost of physical and psychological therapy
- Prosthetics, wheelchairs, and crutches
- Lost wages
- Pain, suffering, and emotional duress
A personal injury claim will be subject to the laws of your state; these laws can be complex and are always subject to change. A qualified car accident lawyer will be familiar with current law and is best positioned to help you file a successful claim.
Auto insurance in the state of New Jersey is no-fault. As a result, after a car accident, you may need to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident. To bring a claim against the at-fault driver, your injury claim must meet certain pre-requisites.
What to Do Before an Accident Happens
No one wants to get into a car accident, but it is best to be prepared for the worst. Your pre-accident checklist should include the following:
- Make sure your driver’s license, insurance card, and car registration is in your car.
- Put emergency supplies in your vehicle, including water, a first aid kit, and a blanket.
- Place a checklist of what to do after an accident in your glove compartment
- Keep your phone charged.
- Take photos of your car periodically so you have a record of what it looks like prior to an accident.
- When you are driving on a highway, always be aware of mile markers and the last exit you passed so you can report your location in case of an emergency.
Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Help Clients with Personal Injury Claims
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact the Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We will review your case and fight to hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries accountable. For a free consultation, call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. We provide aggressive legal representation for residents of Freehold, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.