What To Do After a Car Wreck

If you’re reading this, chances are you were recently in a car wreck and want to know what steps to take after a car wreck. Some of the events below may have already happened. If you think you “messed up” because you didn’t do exactly as we suggest, relax. A good lawyer can usually fix most things. If you came upon this page and you haven’t been in an car wreck, hopefully the information below is helpful in the event you ever are in one. Below are the steps we suggest you take after a car wreck:

  1. Stop and Assess the Situation
    • After the initial impact, it’s likely that you will be in some state of shock. This is not uncommon. If you have children or loved one’s in the car, check on them immediately. If they need help, do what you can, but be careful not to move them in the event they are complaining of significant neck or back pain.
  2. Call 911
    • Regardless of the severity of injury and before you do anything else, we suggest you find your cell phone and call 911. If someone is critically injured every second counts.
    • Let the 911 operator know how everyone is doing. The important thing at this point is the health and safety of others. Because you will probably still be in shock, refrain from discussing the details of the wreck with the 911 operator besides what is necessary to get help.
  3. Check on the Other Driver
    • Now that you’ve checked out everyone in your vehicle and help is on the way, check on the other driver and make sure they are ok. It’s natural to feel anger toward the other driver if he/she caused the wreck, but the time period immediately following the wreck is not the time to vent that anger.
    • In the event you haven’t already called 911, the other driver may tell you that they don’t think it is necessary to call the police. Do not fall for this. Usually there is a reason the other driver doesn’t want the police involved. A few examples could be:
  4. Take Pictures of the Car Wreck
    • Take pictures of everything, from every angle. Seriously, if you can photograph something, photograph it. This means a 360 degree view of every vehicle involved, including the undercarriage, all debris, etc. We also encourage you to take pictures of the scene of the wreck, including the traffic lights, stop signs, road lines, etc. Even something like a tree at the intersection could be important later. People’s stories sometimes change after a wreck. Someone with whom you were involved in a wreck may jump out of their car and tell you how sorry they are and tell you that its their fault and their insurance company will take care of everything. Shock and emotion have a way of eliciting the truth. Later, however, they may think to themselves, I don’t think I want to take responsibility for that wreck. I think I’m going to say a tree obstructed my view. If you took pictures of the intersection and there are no trees, you can prove that the at-fault party changed their story. Now of course, we could prove this later when we go investigate the scene of the wreck, but this is just an example to show how thorough photography can help facilitate faster resolution of the case. You could even film the lights changing colors, which we suggest. Perhaps the at-fault party wants to claim later that the light changed colors quickly from green to red with little time on yellow causing him or her to run the light. If you had a video of the light sequence, we could prove them wrong or right, whatever the case may be.
  5. Make Sure the Police Officers Have Your Version of How the Wreck Occurred
    • This rule is pretty self-explanatory and self-evident. However, we see it time and time again where someone is in a hurry to leave the scene of the wreck while the at-fault party sticks around. The officer only has one story to base his report on and it won’t be yours if you’re not the one who sticks around.
    • If you’re hurt, even a little, make sure you tell the police officer that you are hurt. Don’t downplay your injuries. Now is not the time to be a hero or a tough guy. If you don’t mention you’re hurt immediately after the wreck, the insurance company may use this against you later. Significant pain may, and usually arises a day or so after the wreck once the shock wears off. If you say you’re not hurt immediately following the wreck but then a few days later go for treatment, the insurance company may point to the “gap in treatment” and argue that you’re only playing hurt to get money out of the wreck.  So, if you’re hurt, even just a little, let the police officers know.
  6. Go to the Hospital Via Ambulance and Don’t Worry About Your Vehicle
    • As mentioned above, when you’re in a wreck, your mind and body are usually in shock for a day or more following the wreck. You may not feel significant, initial pain, but it commonly sets in later. It’s always best to go get checked out by a doctor. If you don’t have health insurance, don’t decline an ambulance ride just because you’re afraid of the bill. If the other party was at fault for the wreck their insurance should cover the bill.
    • Don’t worry about your vehicle immediately after the accident. There will be time for that later. If you go the hospital via ambulance, the authorties will have your vehicle towed. The towing and storage should be covered by the at-fault party’s insurance. If you have a family member or friend who can pick up the vehicle, give them a call and see if they can. But bottom line, don’t worry about the vehicle.
  7. Call the Insurance Companies and Start a Claim, but NOTHING Else
    • When dealing with an insurance company representative whether it is for your insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance, always keep one thing in mind: insurance companies (and their agents and adjusters) are not your friends.
    • We suggest you call the insurance company for the at-fault party and your own insurance company as soon as you’re reasonably able to do so. In fact, most insurance policies require you to notify them of an accident as soon as you’re able. Start a claim but do nothing else until you’ve consulted an attorney. The agent or adjuster may request and almost demand a recorded statement or interview. Take note, you DO NOT have to give a recorded statement.
  8. Follow Up With Your Family Doctor
    • When you are discharged from the hospital, the hospital doctor will usually recommend that you follow up with you primary care physician, or “PCP.” We highly suggest that you do this. Your PCP will be able to refer you to therapy whether that be with a chiropractor or physical therapist.
    • Your  PCP may refuse to see you if you’re injuries are caused from a car wreck. PCP’s don’t typically like treating people for injuries caused by car wrecks because they could be called to give their deposition or to testify at trial in the even the at fault party’s insurance fails to adequately compensate you.  This doesn’t make your PCP is a bad person but it often puts our clients in between a rock and hard spot as they don’t know where to go next.
    • Call  Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC if you can’t find a doctor to see you. We know a number of doctors who will treat you for your injuries related to a car wreck. If you can’t afford to see a doctor, we can help you with that too. We will issue a letter or protection which is basically an agreement between the attorney and the doctor that the doctor will wait until after the case is resolved – either through settlement or trial – to collect payment for his or her services.
  9. Find a Car Wreck Attorney
    • Many people try to navigate a car wreck claim themselves. When there are little to no injuries and/or property damage, you may be better off doing that. However, as injuries and damages increase, so do the insurance’s defenses. Fighting an insurance company by yourself is like David fighting Goliath without his slingshot. Let us help you. Battling insurance companies is what we do. You can reach us at the office at (817) 820-0100 or fill out a free online case evaluation.
  10. Continue With Treatment and Be Patient
    • It takes time for physical and emotional injuries to heal after a car wreck. Be patient. The most important thing is for you to get back to as close to normal as possible. You can’t do this if you’re constantly worried, or not following up with treatment. Follow your doctor’s orders and let us do all the other work. It may take a while for your case to be resolved, but we’ll keep you informed all along the way.

How Do I Contact After a Car Wreck?

If you don’t know what to do after a car wreck, and need the help of an experienced Fort Worth Car Accident Lawyer, contact the Warriors for Justice at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC in Fort Worth, Texas.  You can contact us by phone at (817)820-0100 or fill out a free case evaluation form online.