What To Do After A Car Accident

The most recent statistics produced by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) show that in 2011, there were a total of 142,966 traffic crashes. There were 51,060 injured in 2011, and 786 individuals perished in or as a result of automobile accidents. Speed, substance abuse, age, and other factors were listed prominently among the causes of auto accidents in the 2011 statistical study.

Given that an accident with injuries occurs every 10.3 minutes on average according to the MoDOT study, there is always a risk that you will be involved in a traffic accident. Whether you made an error while driving or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is important to know what steps you need to take if you are involved in a car accident. Taking informed action will protect your rights and ensure the best possible outcome.

Here are Ryan’s 9 rules to follow after a car accident…

Ryan’s Rule #1: Don’t Leave the Scene

If you are involved in an accident, Missouri law requires you to stop at the scene of the accident. If anyone is injured, call 911 immediately, which will summon the fire department and the police.

Ryan’s Rule #2: Exchange Information

It is important to collect as much information as possible from the other party. You may be shaken up, but it is important to obtain the name, address, insurance information and driver’s license number of the other party involved.

Ryan’s Rule #3: Take Pictures of the Scene and Vehicles

A picture really is worth a thousand words. They can be extremely important during any negotiations or trial. Use your cell phone to take pictures of the damage to your car, your injuries, and the immediate area surrounding the accident. A picture showing the position of the respective vehicles after they come to rest is very important.

Ryan’s Rule #4: Do Not Argue

Often in the heat of the moment, people say things regarding the accident that can hurt their case later on. Do not get into a discussion with the other party about the circumstances of the accident. Do not ever verbally assume responsibility, even if the accident was your fault. If police question you about the accident, give your objective account of the accident.

Ryan’s Rule #5: Notify Your Insurance Company

It is extremely important to notify your insurance company right away after an accident. Failure to report an accident can prevent you from pursing a claim in the future. Do not give them a statement until you consult with a lawyer. Adjusters will record your statement and could use it against you in a first party claim.

Ryan’s Rule #6: Go to the Emergency Room if necessary

If you feel like you may be injured, go to the ER. Often victims of car accidents put off going to the emergency room immediately following an accident. They feel their injuries may not be serious enough to warrant treatment. Failing to immediately seek medical attention can affect your ability to obtain a favorable settlement in the future. An insurance company can argue that you were not injured because you did not seek medical attention. We never advocate unnecessary medical treatment so if you are positive you are not injured, then a trip to the ER can be avoided.

Ryan’s Rule #7: File an Accident Report

Under Chapter 300 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, a driver involved in a car accident involving more than $500.00 in property damage or bodily injury must report the accident to local police. A police report is also useful because it will provide important information such as insurance information, diagrams, witness information, and document whether someone was taken to the hospital.

Ryan’s Rule #8: Call an Injury Lawyer

Many complex insurance issues can arise in car accident cases. There are specific insurance laws that determine what coverage must be in force. To obtain the best possible chance of a just recovery for your injuries, speak with The Bradley Law Firm to ensure that your rights are protected.

Ryan’s Rule #9: Never, ever do any of the following

  1. Don’t automatically accept an offer made by your insurance company. Insurance companies will likely offer you the lowest possible dollar amount, which may not adequately cover your losses.
  2. Don’t sign a waiver or release without consulting legal counsel. Emotions often run high during this time, and you may be tempted to close the claim and settle for an amount less than your actual loss.
  3. Don’t ignore any time limits set in your policy. Many policies require a proof of loss be filed within a certain time frame for instance. Also, if your claim is not being settled to your satisfaction and the clock is ticking, speak to legal counsel immediately.

By taking these important steps you can ensure your case and your rights will be protected after a motor vehicle accident. If you would like a free consultation after a car accident, call us at 314-400-0000.