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What to Do After a Car Accident

  1. Call the Police or Washington State Patrol (WSP) Immediately
  2. What to Do in the Moments Following an Accident
  3. You Could File a Personal Injury Lawsuit to Recover Car Accident Damages
  4. Consult a Washington State Car Accident Attorney as Soon as You Can
  5. Do Not Settle Unless You Truly Know What Your Car Accident Case is Worth
  6. Call Our Washington Car Accident Attorneys Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been in a car accident, the moments, days, weeks, and months following your crash will be crucial to ensuring you make a total physical and financial recovery. By speaking with the police, seeking legal counsel, obtaining medical treatment, and avoiding crucial mistakes, you give yourself the best chance to receive optimal compensation and ensure your safety.

After your accident, your safety should always be your priority. Once you confirm you are safe, you should follow these tips for what to do after a car accident. You can also call us at (206) 588-4344 for help from the car accident scene.

Call the Police or Washington State Patrol (WSP) Immediately

what to do after car accident injury

Whether the car accident involves another driver, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, you should call the police from the accident’s location. Washington State requires the police or WSP to be called if someone is injured or if property damage is greater than $1,000, as the Washington State Department of Licensing reports. 

Even if your accident was a minor fender-bender, it is still better to call the police than assume that everything can be handled without them.

The Responding Officers Will File a Collision Report

Aside from police securing the area and ensuring people receive prompt medical attention, the responding officer will file a collision report. This report provides a third-party observation of what happened to cause the accident.

The police report will provide key information you and your attorneys can use if you file an insurance claim or lawsuit against another party involved in your accident.

What to Do in the Moments Following an Accident

after car accident injury

After calling the police, you will want to do a few things to ensure you have evidence for your insurance companies or lawyers regarding your crash. You should adhere to these guidelines to protect yourself and any future claim or lawsuit you might file.

Take Photos and Notes of the Accident Scene

Once you check and confirm you and your passengers are safe and you determine there are no serious injuries, you should take photos of the accident scene. Only attempt to take photos if you are in a safe place. If you are on a major roadway and traffic is still traveling past, remain in your vehicle until authorities arrive.

When it is safe to do so, you should take photos of:

  • All involved vehicles
  • The street or location
  • Any skid marks
  • Stop signs, traffic signals
  • Road signs
  • Road and weather conditions
  • Anything else at the scene that could support your insurance claim or potential lawsuit

If possible, write down each vehicle’s make, model, and year. You can also document vehicle license plate numbers, time of day, and weather conditions and diagram the accident if possible. You should note anything you think will preserve a record of the event and involved vehicles.

While doing this, do not get in the way of the police officer creating a collision report. Give them space to do their job properly.

Get the Names and Contact Information of Witnesses

Third-party witnesses may be necessary to support your version of how the accident occurred. You can ask them for a statement. If they are unwilling to give a statement, ask if you can have their names and phone numbers so you can contact them later. You may also need to provide this information to the police, the insurance company, and your Washington state car accident attorneys.

Also, make sure you swap names, phone numbers, driver’s license details, and insurance information with other involved drivers.

Do Not Apologize to Anyone Involved in the Accident

After the accident, you may want to say you are sorry to other parties involved in the accident. Do not do this. By apologizing, you could unknowingly admit you are guilty of causing the accident. The police officer working on the police report could even note that you apologized to other parties, which could be taken as a sign that you should be held liable.

Keep in mind that an accident report is something the insurance company considers when people report claims. While you should certainly ensure other drivers and passengers are safe after an accident, do not apologize or say anything that could be construed as an apology.

Get Treatment for Your Injuries

Even if you believe your injuries are not serious, you should always get medical attention right away. Many people do not realize car accident injuries do not have apparent symptoms until they become quite serious. Internal bleeding, traumatic brain injuries, and many other kinds of injuries could go undetected for hours, days, or even weeks following an accident. Seeking medical treatment right away can often help you catch these problems before they worsen.

On top of that, if you do not seek medical care within the first few days after the accident, the insurance company may try to argue that your injuries are not that serious or that they are unrelated to the crash. By speaking with a doctor right away, you will obtain medical records that can provide strong evidence linking the injuries to the crash, even when symptoms are delayed.

Finally, remember that you have just been in a stressful situation. With adrenaline flowing through your veins, you may not feel much pain right away. This makes it harder for you to tell whether you have suffered a serious injury. To protect yourself, have a medical examination. If you suffered an injury, this is the time to get the treatment you need.

Call Your Insurance Company

Regardless of who you believe to be at fault for the accident, you should always report it to your insurance company soon after a crash. Do not wait to let the car insurance company know you were in an accident, especially if it meets the criteria under state law, which requires you to report the accident to the police (RCW § 46.52.030). 

Even if it seems beyond obvious to you that the other party is 100% at fault and their liability coverage should pay, that does not mean the other driver will see it that way. By promptly reporting the accident to your insurer, you can better protect yourself in case you later make a claim or if anyone else makes a claim against you. 

Be Careful of What You Say to Insurance Companies

Whether you are talking to your insurer or the other party’s insurer, you should also be careful of what you say. Do not tell an adjuster anything that is not a fact about the accident, and avoid saying you feel fine. Do not apologize or answer any questions about who or what could have caused the crash. You can confirm the accident’s date, time, location, and other facts.

Additionally, if you have questions about liability and insurance coverage options, Washington state personal injury attorneys can investigate every option for recovery so you can get the compensation you deserve. They can also handle insurers on your behalf.

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You Could File a Personal Injury Lawsuit to Recover Car Accident Damages

after car accident

In the days and weeks after an accident, it may be in your best interest to seek legal counsel and file a personal injury lawsuit. This will be especially beneficial to you if you believe that the insurance companies are not treating you fairly or if you suffered injuries that go beyond the amount the insurance companies will cover.

If you suffered an injury in an accident that was not your fault or not entirely your fault, you might be able to recover losses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your medical bills, wage losses, and even non-economic damages like pain and suffering could all be part of your claim.

Comparative Fault

Washington is one of the relatively few states that uses a “pure comparative fault” system, meaning that as long as the other driver was at least 1% at fault, you can file a claim against their insurance company. In this instance, a court can reduce your damages by the percentage of fault you share, if any.

Insurance Coverage

The minimum amounts of auto insurance Washington State drivers must carry are the following, per the state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner:

  • $25,000 for injuries or death to another person
  • $50,000 for injuries or death to all other people in an accident 
  • $10,000 for damage to anyone else’s property

If the damages you suffer go beyond the liability coverage an insurance company provides, you will likely need to file a lawsuit against the other party to ensure you make a complete financial recovery.

Uninsured Motorists

While you do not have to have uninsured motorist coverage, it helps pay for damages and medical care if you get into a car accident with someone with no insurance. The unfortunate reality is if the other driver does not have insurance or their insurance policy limits do not cover all your damages, you may have limited ability to collect fair compensation unless you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to pick up the slack. 

However, you might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured motorist. If you get into an accident with an uninsured motorist, you must obtain their information so you can contact them.

Speaking with a Washington car accident lawyer can help you understand how and when to file a personal injury lawsuit that appropriately fits your accident.

Consult a Washington State Car Accident Attorney as Soon as You Can

what to do after car accident injury

The sooner you get solid legal advice, the less likely you are to make costly mistakes, such as admitting fault, giving statements you should not, or accepting a settlement offer for far less than your case’s worth.

Car accident lawyers will work quickly, identify and protect key case evidence, and build your case. Attorneys can also:

  • Identify insurance policies and sources of compensation that apply to your situation
  • Guide you through the claims process
  • Handle filings and negotiations on your behalf
  • Deal with the insurance adjusters
  • Keep your case moving along so you can focus on healing and rebuilding your life

We Can Represent You After a Car Accident

At Herschensohn Law, initial consultations are always free, and you never owe us anything unless you win a settlement or verdict.

Do Not Settle Unless You Truly Know What Your Car Accident Case is Worth

Remember, an insurance company’s primary goal is to save money, not ensure you can meet your needs after a car collision. The insurance adjuster may act friendly and tell you they are trying to help you, but that is untrue. 

By speaking with car accident attorneys who regularly handle these cases, you can protect yourself against not being taken advantage of in any way. Insurance companies may not offer you enough to cover the damage to your vehicle, pay for your medical expenses, or the time you may have lost from work. Even if they make a lucrative offer, you may still be entitled to more compensation.

We recommend you speak with a law firm before accepting an insurance offer for an accident that involves injuries and damages.

Call Our Washington Car Accident Attorneys Today for a Free Consultation

It is your job to get better after a car accident. You need your energy and focus to recover as fully as possible. You should not have to argue with the insurance company about what your damages are worth. Do not sign releases from them without talking to your attorneys first. Your ability to sue the liable party for a car accident is limited by Washington state car accident law to three years from the accident date, per RCW § 4.16.080.

By contacting car accident attorneys shortly after your accident, you ensure they have time to build your case. Herschensohn Law fights hard for injured parties and protects their rights and interests. Our car accident attorneys can help you determine what to do after a crash. You do not have to face this alone. Call us today at (206) 588-4344 to get started.

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