After a car accident, most people are in a state of shock. The initial shock can last seconds, minutes or even longer. Once that shock wears off, adrenaline and other emotions usually kick in. This may allow you to deal with the immediate needs at the accident scene, but you are likely not considering the long-term effect of your actions. For this reason, it’s easy to make mistakes at the accident scene that can dramatically impact your legal rights or filing a lawsuit.
Call 9-1-1, Takes Notes and Pictures.
The first thing you need to do after an accident is determine if anyone is injured, and if so, call 911 for an ambulance. Until the ambulance crew arrives, the focus should be on tending to the injured. Be sure not to move anyone who is seriously injured unless it is necessary to keep them from further harm.
If it is an accident involving a car, truck or motorcycle, you also should ask for the police to be dispatched, even if no one is injured. Police serve two purposes. First, they ensure the safety of those involved in the crash and others who are using the roadway. Second, they will create a police report that documents what happened and who was involved in the accident. This report will be important in your legal case.
You should not simply rely on the police to get all the necessary information. You should also document where the accident occurred, the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved, and the names and insurance companies for the parties. You should obtain the names, contact information and statements of any witnesses. You can use the camera on your phone to take pictures of the scene, the vehicles involved and any injuries you or others have suffered. If there was a dangerous condition in the roadway that caused the crash, take a picture or video of it with your phone. Pictures and videos are valuable pieces of evidence that will be useful later on.
Protect Your Legal Rights.
Remember the line from so many cop shows, “Anything you say can and will be used against you”? It’s especially true in personal injury cases. Insurance companies are always looking for anything that will help them reduce or refute your claim for compensation. As a result, you should be careful what you say at the accident scene to paramedics, investigators, or anyone else for that matter—even if they are close friends or family.
In general, you should not talk to anyone about your legal case except your lawyer. Your conversations with your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege, and you could be giving up this privilege if you discuss with others what you have discussed with your attorney. For this reason, we recommend that you do not get into conversations with claims adjusters about the accident because their chief goal is to limit the amount the insurance company pays you.
Most likely, you don’t know all the factors that went into the accident. It could have been due to someone else’s negligence, perhaps the other driver was on a cell phone or distracted. Or, it could be due to faulty maintenance, a blown tire, or a defective piece of equipment. You simply can’t know at the time of the accident all the factors that were at play because things happen quickly in an accident. This is why a thorough investigation is often necessary, especially in more complicated accidents such as those involving multiple parties. Your attorney and their experts can help investigate and uncover the factors that contributed to causing the accident.
These are just a few of the steps you should take to protect your rights after a car accident in Kansas or Missouri. You should make sure to review our top 10 ways to maximize your injury claim in Kansas and Missouri. For more information, please download a free copy of my book, Crash Course, which includes the 9 mistakes that can wreck your injury claim. You can also contact our firm in Kansas City by calling (816) 203-0143 or by filling out a form below. Contacting us is FREE and confidential, and there is no obligation to hire us to represent you. We would be happy to hear any concerns and try to assist you.