It may be difficult to stay calm after being involved in a car accident, especially when it’s clear that someone else’s reckless behavior caused it. It’s best to make sure that everyone involved is OK and call the police immediately.
If you are in an area where you can be struck by another car, it’s best to move somewhere safe immediately. Pull off to the shoulder of the road or find a nearby parking lot, if you’re able to. Everything else should be left as is, so police can document all details of the crash scene.
There are some steps you can take to gather evidence at the crash scene, however. The aftermath of a crash can be expensive and insurance companies are often reluctant to cover the costs. When pursuing a legal claim, you want to make sure that no stone is left unturned.
How do I document the crash scene?
Start by taking pictures before any of the cars involved are moved. This will allow you to gather fresh evidence regarding how the crash occurred, including:
- The direction all cars involved were traveling at the time of the crash
- Tire marks in the roadway
- The site of car damage and the severity of it
- Damage to guardrails, signs, or other roadway structures
If there are any witnesses present at the time of the crash, write down their names and phone numbers. You should also ask them what they saw and take note of it. Witness accounts can be beneficial when it comes time to pursue a claim.
In some cases, the driver who caused the crash may admit to being at fault. Be sure to note this when documenting your crash. Even if the at-fault driver refuses to admit fault, avoid arguing and stay as neutral as possible. An investigation of the crash scene will tell the real story.
Once the police arrive, they will question all parties involved in the crash. They will also document any observations they make from a neutral standpoint.
Police may also issue a citation, if the at-fault driver violated a traffic law. If the driver behaves aggressively after the crash or is found to be impaired by drugs or alcohol, police may make an arrest. This will be included in the police report. You may obtain the crash report on the Washington State Patrol website or physically at the nearest police station.
Should I get medical attention?
Always seek medical attention after a crash, even if you feel fine. A crash can be a stressful event that can trigger the release of adrenaline. This can happen within seconds, causing the body to go into fight-or-flight mode.
We don’t usually feel pain when adrenaline is released. Therefore, you may not be aware of a minor bone fracture, spinal injury, head injury, or other crash-related condition until after the adrenaline wears off.
Sometimes, it can take days for injury symptoms to appear. For example, a seemingly minor rear-end collision can result in whiplash. This occurs when the head jerks forward and backward in a rapid, whip-like motion. The soft tissue in the neck gets damaged as a result. You may begin to experience headaches, a stiff neck, and tingling in the limbs days later.
Be sure to document how you feel at the time of the crash and seek immediate medical attention. Having a qualified physician conduct a medical evaluation can be beneficial for these reasons:
- You receive an accurate diagnosis of your injury.
- Your injury can be addressed promptly before it worsens.
- A medical evaluation can help your attorney build a strong legal claim.
How can an attorney help me obtain compensation?
You will likely be contacted by the at-fault driver’s insurance company after the crash. They’ll come across as friendly and may try to convince you that they want to help you. They may attempt to shift the blame away from the at-fault driver or convince you to agree to a lowball settlement.
Never fall for their tricks. Once you agree to a settlement, it’s game over. You may find yourself paying for most of your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage out of your own pocket.
That’s why having an experienced car accident attorney on your side is critical. Your attorney acts as a buffer between you and the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If they attempt to contact you, simply redirect them to attorney Zach Herschensohn.
Attorney Herschensohn possesses a wealth of legal knowledge and has real courtroom experience taking on stubborn insurance companies. To find out how he can help you maximize your compensation, contact Herschensohn Law PLLC. Our law office is located in Kent, Washington.