What To Do After a Car Accident
Help for People Hurt in Car Accidents in Northwest Washington
A car accident, no matter how minor, is a traumatic experience. In the shock and confusion surrounding a car wreck, it can be difficult to think clearly and to know what to do next. But there are important things you should do immediately after the crash and in the days following an accident that can help protect your legal rights and maximize your financial recovery.
What To Do If You Were in a Car Accident
Every year, more than 3 million Americans are hurt in car accidents. If you were hurt in a car wreck, it’s important that you take steps to protect yourself and your financial future.
- Check yourself for any injuries, and ask your passengers if they were hurt.
- If you can, get out of your car and ask the people in the other vehicles if they were injured.
- If there are any severe injuries, call 9-1-1. Tell them someone was hurt in a car accident, tell them where the accident occurred, and stay on the line until they hang up.
- If there are no serious injuries, call the local police department to make a report.
- When the police arrive they will take over the scene of the accident. Be cooperative and follow their instructions. They will gather information to write a report.
- If the police ask you to sign something, do it. You are not admitting anything. Be sure to get the police officers’ names and departments.
- Get names, contact information, and insurance information from the other driver(s). If you have a cell phone, take a picture of the other driver(s) license and insurance card. Be sure to get a phone number, too.
- Get names and contact information for any other people who were involved in the accident as passengers in the other vehicle(s).
- Look for witnesses and, if possible, get their names and contact information. Witnesses are not required to provide their names, addresses, or phone numbers, but many people will be willing to help by stating what they saw.
- Take pictures of the scene of the crash and any damage to the vehicles. If possible, include weather conditions, road conditions, and traffic signs.
- See a doctor. If you were injured, even if your injuries were minor, seek medical treatment. It may take a few days for symptoms to appear.
- Take photographs of your injuries. This includes bruises, cuts, and lacerations, as well as photographs of any broken bones, etc.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance company may ask for a recorded statement, but you do not need to provide it immediately. Tell them you plan to hire a lawyer and will provide a recorded statement after you have discussed the matter with your attorney.
- Contact the police department to request a copy of the police report. You may have to wait several days before the report is available.
- Hire an attorney.
What If Injuries Don’t Show Up Right Away?
Car accidents involve large, heavy objects traveling at high speeds that abruptly come to a stop when they collide with each other. The forces generated when cars collide can be significant. Your body continues to move inside the vehicle until it comes to a stop, either because of the seat belt or by hitting something inside the vehicle.
Because a car crash is a traumatic event, your body will trigger a “fight or flight” response that releases adrenaline and endorphins into the bloodstream. These chemicals create higher levels of energy, but can also mask the pain associated with any injuries. Just because you feel fine immediately after a car accident does not mean that you were not injured. Once the excitement associated with these chemicals goes away, your injuries may start to appear.
It’s important to see a doctor after a car crash because your body might be masking the pain associated with any injuries you suffered. Your doctor is in the best position to diagnose whether you have been injured and can give you advice on monitoring for other possible symptoms and prescribe follow-up treatment if you have been hurt.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for Injuries Due to a Car Accident?
If you were hurt in a car accident, the most important thing to do is to take care of your physical and mental health and well-being. If your injuries are severe, call an ambulance to the scene of the crash. Go to the emergency room. Follow-up with your doctor. But remember, you don’t have unlimited time to file a claim.
For most car accidents in Washington, you have three years after the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. If you don’t sue the other driver within three years you cannot recover any money from the other driver or their insurance company. There are exceptions to this three year period and an experienced car accident injury lawyer can tell you exactly how long you have to make a claim.
How a Lawyer Can Help
At the Campbell Law Firm, we start by identifying the other driver and their insurance company and notifying them that you are represented by a lawyer. Next, we gather evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault. This includes the police report, witness statements, and photographs of the scene of the accident, your vehicle, and the other driver’s vehicle. In some cases, it is clear that the other driver caused the crash. In others, fault is in dispute and your lawyer will need to prove that the other driver caused the crash.
We will also gather evidence to prove damages. This includes:
- Hospital records, including emergency room reports and other doctor’s records
- Medical bills
- X-rays and scans
- Photographs of your injuries
- Reports from medical experts proving that the accident caused your injuries
When we have all of the necessary information about your case we prepare a demand package for the insurance company that shows the full extent of the effect the car crash had on you. The demand package presents your case in the most favorable light and in a way that is intended to maximize your financial recovery.
We will try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company, and will not accept a settlement offer without your explicit approval. If We cannot reach an agreement with the insurance company, we will file a lawsuit to protect your rights.
The Campbell Law Firm — Fighting for People Hurt in Car Accidents in Northwest Washington
If you were hurt in a car accident in Northwest Washington you need an experienced injury lawyer on your side. You may be entitled to compensation, including money for:
- The cost of past and future medical care
- Lost wages
- Emotional trauma
- Pain and suffering
- Temporary or permanent impairment
Attorney Justin Campbell is here to help by protecting your rights and maximizing your financial recovery. Learn why clients choose us and contact the Campbell Law Firm today. Call us at (360) 588-4111, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.
The Campbell Law Firm proudly represents people throughout Northwest Washington, including all courts in Skagit County, Island County, San Juan County, Anacortes, Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Friday Harbor.