Red vehicle that was involved in a car accident.

7 Steps to Take If You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident

You don’t think it will happen to you – until you hear the dreaded crunch of metal. It can be a stressful experience when you are involved in a car accident and don’t know what to do afterwards.

When a collision causes severe injuries, costly vehicle damages or both, it may be helpful to hire a personal injury attorney. During this difficult time, they can provide professional assistance in negotiating a fair settlement or representing your case should it go to trial.

What to Do After a Severe Motor Vehicle Collision

1. Remain calm at the scene of the accident.

The scene of an accident can be frightening or stressful, especially if you have never been in a car accident before. The first thing to do is pull to the side of the road, if possible, and call 911 to notify the police.

If you or anyone else involved has been injured, seek medical treatment immediately.

Document the scene of the accident only if you are able to do this safely. This includes taking photographs of the vehicles involved. Take down the other drivers’ and witnesses’ names, addresses and telephone numbers. Also, obtain the other car’s make, model, color and license plate number. You will also need to exchange insurance information with the other driver or drivers.

2. File an accident report.

Police who arrived at the scene of an accident should file an accident report. If they were unable to, file a report for yourself. Some states require you to report an accident depending on the circumstances.

In the state of Missouri, you are required to file a report if:

  • Someone was injured, no matter how minor or severe
  • A motorist involved does not have insurance
  • Property damage costs more than $500

In the state of Illinois, you are required to file a report within 10 days of the accident if:

  • Someone was injured, no matter how minor or severe
  • Property damage costs more than $1,500

You can file an accident report at any Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your insurance company, the MO Department of Revenue website, or the Illinois Motorist Report website. All of the information you documented at the scene will be very useful for this step.

3. File a claim with your automobile insurance company.

The costs for vehicle repairs and medical bills can add up quickly after a crash. It is important to file a claim with your insurance company so you can be reimbursed for those expensive necessities.

4. Keep documents safe and organized.

It is important to keep track of documents and photos from an accident resulting in injury or property damage. Staying organized early on in the process will save you stress in the end. One of the first things an attorney will help you with is collecting these items – but it will be helpful to know where they are located and keep everything in a central place in your home. 

Documents you might collect throughout this process can include:

  • Photographs. Of the scene of the accident, injuries before and after medical treatment, or any vehicle damages.
  • Witnesses of the accident. Names and contact information for passengers involved in the accident, or others who may have seen the accident.
  • Police report number. Given to you by police on the scene of the accident, or to be found with the police department who responded to the scene.
  • Medical records and medical bills. For proof of injury and the costs associated with treatment.
  • The other party’s insurance information. For your attorney to contact if needed.

5. Contact an attorney.

A severe car accident is scary and difficult to deal with especially if it resulted in life-changing injuries or death. Take the weight off of your shoulders and hire an attorney who has successfully represented many clients who have experienced devastating losses. 

There are time limits to filing a lawsuit. An auto accident attorney will determine the statute of limitations for your case and will keep track of the case timeline for you.

6. Only speak to your attorney about the case.

The other driver’s insurance company may ask for a statement soon after the accident. Do not give them any information or say anything about the accident. Simply provide your attorney’s name and contact information.

It may be tempting to share your experience on social media or let out your frustrations by writing a negative review, but any public posts you make could hinder your success with the case. An insurance company may use anything you say against you, so it is best to keep your thoughts private until the case is settled.

7. Return to your normal routine.

It may take a while to get to this step, but it’s one you will not want to miss!

Not every motor vehicle accident is the same, of course. If you are unable to follow these steps or you are unsure of anything regarding a recent car accident, contact an attorney.

Don’t Wait to Contact an Attorney

The process after a car accident can seem long and complicated. The personal injury attorneys at Padberg, Corrigan & Appelbaum have decades of experiences with a wide range of auto accidents. From persistent pain to more severe injuries, disability or wrongful death cases, we are committed to getting a fair and just result for our clients and their families.

In one recent case, a driver attempted a left turn directly in front of another vehicle, which resulted in the death of the 23-year-old passenger. Our attorneys negotiated a $1.1 million settlement for the surviving parents—the maximum amount of the driver’s insurance policy.

Contact our firm today if you or someone you know has been in a serious car accident and needs legal assistance.