There are thousands of car accidents in Washington every year. A vast majority are minor, resulting in little more than bruises and dents. Some, however, result in serious or even fatal injuries. Knowing what to do after both types of accidents can help to ensure your rights are protected.
If you are injured in a car accident and need legal assistance, Fuller & Fuller is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a FREE consultation and learn more about your options and rights.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
A minor car accident will have few, if any, injuries. Because of this, it is often possible to take steps on the scene of the accident. Taking the proper steps can help to ensure you have the evidence you need to file an insurance claim.
When involved in a minor car accident, follow these 10 steps:
1. Stay Calm
Traffic accidents are jarring events, but you don’t want to let your emotions make an already stressful situation worse. Staying calm can help you better assess the crash scene and clearly recall what happened. Take a moment to breathe and regain your composure.
2. Check for Injuries
Starting with yourself, check the occupants of your vehicle for signs of injury. If it is safe to do so, check on the driver and passengers of the other vehicle as well. If you discover injuries, inform the authorities when you call 911.
Do not provide assistance that is beyond your training. Let emergency responders care for the injured parties.
3. Ensure Safety
It is best if the police can view the vehicles at their final resting point after an accident. Only move the vehicles out of traffic if necessary for safety and to prevent further accidents. Remember when talking to other drivers to remain courteous and calm. This can help prevent emotions from flaring and assist in keeping the scene civil.
4. Contact the Authorities
In Washington, accidents with property damage exceeding $1,000 must be reported even if there are no injuries. When emergency personnel arrive, cooperate, but do not suggest that you are to blame for the accident. Liability can be difficult to determine without additional crash information.
If the officers at the scene do not file a report, be sure to go to the nearest police station to file one, or submit an online report using the Washington State Patrol Online Motor Vehicle Collision Reporting (OMVCR) system. This official documentation can be useful for insurance and legal purposes.
5. Get Names and Information
Identify the other drivers involved in the crash and obtain their names, driver’s license numbers, contact information, and insurance information. If another driver seems angry, dangerous, or incapacitated, ask a responding officer to get the necessary information for you.
6. Speak with Witnesses
If possible, talk to any witnesses at the scene and get their contact information. Eyewitness testimony can strengthen your case.
7. Take Photographs
If you can do so safely, take wide-shot photographs of the accident scene from various angles and locations. Items to photograph include:
- Damage to all involved vehicles
- License plates of the vehicles involved
- The road or intersection where the collision occurred
- Skid marks on the roadway
- Traffic signals or stop signs at the location of the crash
8. Notify Your Insurance Provider
Regardless of who is at fault, it is important to contact your car insurance company as soon as possible after an accident. Many insurance policies require prompt notification. Failing to do so can jeopardize your coverage.
When contacting your insurance company, communicate honestly but pay attention to what you discuss. Provide general information but avoid mentioning fault and politely refrain from giving a statement until you consult with an attorney.
9. Seek Medical Attention
Even if injuries are minor, it is always a good idea to undergo a thorough medical evaluation as soon as possible after an accident. Some serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, can take several days or even weeks to show symptoms. Prompt treatment can help to reduce the risk of long-term complications.
Even when an injury isn’t severe, medical documentation will play an important role in establishing the worth of your claim.
10. Document Everything
From the action you take on the scene to interactions with your doctor, document everything., keeping a record of all medical visits, repairs, communications with the insurance company, and other details related to the accident will help to strengthen your case.
Do You Need an Attorney After a Minor Car Accident?
Many minor car accidents resolve within a few months with compensation for medical expenses and property damage going largely uncontested by insurance companies. However, a minor accident does not guarantee a smooth claims process and, when you are facing insurance delays, unfair denials, or underpayments for your damages, it may still be a good idea to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Washington car accident attorney Marya Fuller has decades of experience helping individuals and families recover fair and full compensation. She is here to listen to your story, assess the ways your accident has impacted your life, and help you understand all of your options. Contact us today to set up a FREE case review.
What to Do After a Car Accident With Serious Injuries
Call 911 immediately. Take as many of the steps listed above as possible, given your injuries. It is very important that you contact a qualified and experienced car accident lawyer.
Determining liability and establishing fair compensation can be incredibly complex. An experienced car accident attorney can help by:
Conducting an Investigation
If the police investigation still leaves questions unanswered, car accident lawyers can work with professional investigators and accident reconstructionists who can visit the accident scene, gather critical evidence, take photographs, and document information that can be used to establish liability.
Reviewing Key Evidence
Key evidence may be found in police reports, medical records, accident reconstructions, and other essential documents. Discovering evidence may also involve consulting with experts in various fields to gauge the full scope of injuries and damages.
A car accident attorney can identify and interview eyewitnesses, securing their testimonies early when memories are fresh. These interviews can be crucial in building a strong case for liability.
Determining the Value of Your Claim
By assessing all the collected information, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related damages, your attorney can accurately estimate the value of your claim. This comprehensive evaluation ensures that you pursue the maximum compensation you may be entitled to under the law.
es that you pursue the maximum compensation you may be entitled to under the law.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Once the value of your claim has been established, your car accident lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies in an attempt to secure full compensation. Nearly all car accident claims are settled during negotiations.
Representing You in Court
If negotiations with the insurance company don’t lead to a fair settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit and represent you in court. They will present the gathered evidence, call on expert witnesses, and make compelling arguments to seek the best possible outcome for your case.
Of course, your choice of lawyer matters. The law firm you choose to work with will play a direct role in your recovery experience and the outcome of your case. Taking time to select the best attorney for the job can help to ensure you are properly cared for each step of the way.
Schedule a Free Case Review With Our Car Accident Lawyer
Fuller & Fuller, Attorneys, has been helping clients in Olympia, Tacoma, and other areas of Washington since 1972. Car accident attorney Marya Fuller is a specialist in accident and injury law. She has built a reputation for excellence in a broad range of auto accident cases. She has the knowledge, skills, and resources you need to fight for the justice and compensation you deserve.
To schedule your complimentary case evaluation at our Tacoma or Olympia office, call (800) 570-4878 today. Attorney Fuller represents victims of car accidents living in Tumwater, Lakewood, Centralia, Shelton, Puyallup, and all nearby areas of Washington.