What to Do After a Car Accident

Man taking picture of the car accident scene

A traffic accident can be highly stressful and upsetting even if no one is injured. Drivers in North Carolina are required to take certain steps if they are involved in a car accident, including stopping their vehicle and providing driver’s license and insurance information to others involved.

It can be difficult to think clearly in the chaotic moments after a collision, so we have put together a car accident checklist.

  • Stop your vehicle at the scene.
  • Assist those who are injured by calling for emergency help if needed.
  • Get as much information as possible from the other driver, including name, address, phone number, insurance information, and license plate number.
  • Report the accident to the police and request an ambulance if anyone needs emergency treatment. Do not let anyone talk you out of calling the police.
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident. Many times, witnesses drive off before the police arrive, so act quickly to get their names.
  • Use your phone camera to take photos of the accident, showing the position of the vehicles before they are moved, and any damage to them. Photograph your injuries and the injuries of your passengers at the time of the accident and in the days afterward.
  • Provide the police with the basic facts of what occurred. Do not blame the other driver or assume fault yourself even if you believe you caused the accident. Let the facts speak for themselves. You may not know all the contributing factors to the accident. Inform the police officer if you are injured. The officer can summon an ambulance if needed or make a note that you are taking yourself to the hospital.
  • See a doctor, even if you do not feel injured. Some serious injuries may not be immediately obvious.
  • Report the accident to your insurance company.
  • Consult with an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights if the accident was caused by another motorist and you sustained injuries.

Taking the right steps after a car accident can make the ordeal seem less stressful and put you in a better position if you need to file an injury claim.

The Importance Of Taking Photos After A Car Accident

It is a good idea to create visual documentation of your car accident by taking photographs of the wrecked cars and the accident scene. You should try to take photos while waiting for the police to arrive so long as you can do so safely without standing in an active lane of traffic.

You should try to photograph:

  • Damage to vehicles
  • Your injuries at the time of the accident and as the injuries heal
  • Skids marks on the pavementDebris on the roadSigns or traffic signals blocked by overgrown bushes and trees
  • The weather
  • The other driver’s car license plate and registration

It’s better to take too many photos than too few. The more photos you snap, the more details you are likely to gather of the accident. Details of the accident scene that do not seem important at the time of the crash can turn out to be very important later.

How To Avoid Missteps That Can Jeopardize Your Car Accident Claim

  • Keep your head at the crash scene. Don’t say anything at the scene that could undermine your claim. Don’t apologize for the accident or assume fault. Do not seek to comfort the other driver by saying you are unhurt. In the rush of adrenaline after an accident, it’s too soon to know whether you have injuries. You may wake up the next day with a stiff neck and sore back. Any comments you may at the accident scene be used against you later.
  • Do not let the other driver talk you out of reporting the accident to the police, even if the driver promises to pay you out of pocket. If there is no police report detailing the accident, it will be much harder to make a claim against the other driver’s insurance for your losses. It will be your word against the other drivers.
  • Seek a medical evaluation even if you feel unhurt. Some types of brain injuries or internal bleeding may not be apparent to you and may require evaluation by a medical professional. A doctor’s report can provide important evidence of your injuries resulting from the accident.
  • It’s normal to want to tell your friends that you have been in a car accident and to describe your condition. But comments on social media, even if your account is supposedly private, can be used against you. Avoid posting comments on social media about the accident or your injuries.
  • Talk to a Lawyer before signing anything or accepting an insurance settlement. An insurance company may try to put pressure on you to settle quickly to limit their liability. Beware of this tactic. If you receive a quick settlement offer, have an experienced personal injury lawyer review and advise you whether the offer is fair before signing anything.

What To Do If You are Struck By A Hit-and-Run Driver

Some drivers panic after an accident and speed away from the scene without stopping. If you have been struck by a hit-and-run driver, you should try to gather as many details as possible to describe the vehicle and driver that struck you.

Try to observe and describe:

  • the vehicle’s make, model and color
  • the license plate number, even if you can only remember part of it
  • whether the hit-and-run driver was male or female
  • the direction in which the car was traveling.

You should report the accident to the police and provide as much information about the hit-and-run driver as possible. Any description can be helpful to police in apprehending the hit-and-run driver.

Collect the names and contact information for witnesses to the accident. They can corroborate what happened.

You should report the hit-and-run accident to your insurance company promptly. If the driver cannot be identified, you can make a claim against your uninsured motorist insurance and receive compensation. Car insurance policies issued in North Carolina are required to include uninsured motorist (UM) protection, which covers you in crashes involving hit-and-run drivers.

Trust N.C. Car Accident Attorneys at Hardison & Cochran For Legal Help

At Hardison & Cochran, we understand how stressful and unsettling it can be to be involved in a car accident. Navigating the legal system can be confusing. Our attorneys are committed to providing aggressive representation to car accident victims to protect their interests. To talk about your accident with a dedicated Raleigh car accident attorney, please contact Hardison & Cochran today. We can provide a free and confidential review of your car accident case.


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