Steps to take after a car accident

One of the main questions that people ask me on a daily basis is, "What do I do if I am involved in a car wreck?" The first thing I tell them is that if you are in a car wreck and are hurt, get medical help. Your life and your well-being is the most important thing after a car wreck.

After that, it is extremely important to document everything related to the auto accident, including injuries, time off work, how you feel in the morning - everything. In addition, the accident has to be reported to the DMV. The state of Alabama has a form for you to fill out to report the accident. If you don't report the accident, you could lose your license.

Also, do not admit responsibility to anyone and for the most part, do not discuss your accident with anyone other than your attorney. While you don't have to hire an attorney, it is always in your best interest to at least consult an attorney. The insurance company on the other side has a very experienced adjuster or attorney negotiating for them, and you need someone on your side. Remember, it is in the insurance company's best interest to pay you as little as possible for your accident.

Some other helpful hints if you are involved in an automobile accident are:

  • Document names, addresses, phone numbers, and license plate numbers of everyone involved in the accident, including any witnesses to the collision, along with the date, time, weather conditions, makes and models of all of the vehicles involved.
  • If you have a camera or camera phone, take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, or other important things. Also take photographs of any injuries you have.
  • Exchange insurance information and driver's licenses. Copy all of the information from both the license and the insurance card.
  • Write down what everyone else says. After an accident, it is common for people to check on those involved to see if they are hurt, and then everybody starts talking about what they saw. Write this down. It could come in handy later when negotiating with an insurance adjuster or even if you have to go to court.
  • If you are involved in an accident in the state of Alabama, you have 2 years from the date of the accident to file a claim, but the sooner you consult an attorney to get legal advice, the better. Insurance companies have people working soon after the accident; you need to have someone working on your side as well.
  • Do not give statements to anyone other than police officers. If you are involved in an accident, report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
  • If you are injured or sore, make sure to see a doctor. Many times, even if you feel like you are fine, some injuries aren't felt until days later.
  • Report the collision to the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
  • And most importantly, do not admit fault even if you think you might be responsible for the accident. Sometimes, once an investigation is through, you might not be at fault.

As always, if you are involved in an accident, consult a car accident attorney at Traylor & Davis to see what your rights are and to have someone look out for you so you can focus on recovering and putting your life back together.

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