Anyone who has been involved in an auto accident in South Carolina knows how stressful and overwhelming it can be. In the initial moments that follow the collision, you are likely to be confused and possibly in shock. Depending on your injuries, you may be in a great deal of pain, or you might not notice your injuries at all – which doesn’t mean that you haven’t been injured. You may also be facing significant property damage. In the worst case scenario, you might be suddenly and unexpectedly coping with the loss of a loved one. An auto accident can change your life in no time at all. You might be unable to work, unable to pursue your plans for the future, and completely at a loss as to what to do next. The last thing you want to think about are the legal ramifications and processes that will undoubtedly be a part of your life now.
You will have many things to think about in the days, weeks, and months that follow an auto accident. You may wonder who is going to pay for your medical expenses, your vehicle repairs, and your lost wages. You may wonder how you’re going to prove fault and what to say to your insurance company. You might be contacted by the other driver’s insurance company and wondering what to say to them. At Elrod Pope Law Firm, we want to make this difficult time in your life much easier by ensuring that you’re prepared for the steps ahead.
Some actions will come naturally after an auto accident, while others might not be as obvious. It’s important to protect your rights and ensure that you remain able to seek compensation for your damages. We have many tips that we’ve compiled to assist you in being prepared for the aftermath of an auto accident, and we know what you can expect. The following steps and tips will help you to respond appropriately to situation you find yourself in after an accident.
1) The first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for injuries. In cases where emergency care is required, this is naturally priority number one. You should also check for urgent injuries in the driver and passengers of the other vehicle(s). If anyone need emergency medical attention, you should call for help right away.
2) Don’t panic or lose your cool. This is a common mistake because of the stress, fear, and adrenaline that are involved in almost every auto accident. No matter how upset you are, you must try to behave calmly and speak politely. If there are serious injuries, being calm is the best way to respond to them. Even if there are not, being calm is the best way to protect yourself and remain cautious with what you say. However, being polite does not mean that you should apologize, even if this feels like the natural response. You should remain in control of your emotions and your words, and avoid saying anything that could imply guilt.
3) Contact the police, even if the accident is not very serious. Then, remain on the scene until the police arrive. Do not simply exchange information and drive away. This is a big mistake. You will need a police report to be filed, and you’d be wise to get a copy as soon as it is available. The police report will contain evidence of what happened and who was at fault. This is very valuable when it comes to filing a claim later.
4) Attempt to gather as much evidence as you are able to, including photographs, videos, the contact information of witnesses, and your own notes. Taking notes after an auto accident is the best way to record what you recall from the accident while it is still fresh in your memory. This is also the time to exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver. If your vehicle is towed, discover where it is being towed to, so you and the investigators can locate it later. This will help when it comes to obtaining evidence from the crash.
5) Contact your car insurance company to report the accident and initiate the process of filing an auto accident claim. At the same time, expect to be contacted by the other drivers car insurance company, and avoid speaking to them without first speaking to an attorney at Elrod Pope Law Firm.
6) If you did not receive emergency medical care, you still need to see a doctor as soon as possible for a full medical evaluation. You may think that you are uninjured or that your injuries are too insignificant to require care, but you might be wrong about that. Sometimes, injuries don’t show symptoms immediately. You may have injuries that you don’t know about, or your seemingly insignificant injuries could be much worse than you think.
7) Maintain records of all medical care and expenses, including all bills and receipts. Also keep a written record of your experiences as you recover from injuries, including any time that you take off of work and any rehabilitation that is required to recover.
8) Continue to watch what you say and do in the days, weeks, and months that follow an auto accident. Be especially cautious regarding contact with the other driver, communication with the other driver’s insurance company, and posts on social media accounts.
9) You can contact the dedicated Rock Hill auto accident attorneys at Elrod Pope Law Firm at any time following the accident, though the sooner you do, the better off you will be. Don’t be afraid of contacting a lawyer because you think you can’t afford it. We offer free consultations and contingency fees, meaning that you won’t pay anything upfront, and if you don’t receive compensation with the help of our attorneys, you won’t pay anything at all.
Follow this advice, and you should have a solid case for a fully comprehensive settlement.
Thomas E. Pope is a Personal Injury, Wrongful Death, and Medical Malpractice Attorney who practices in Rock Hill, Lake Wylie, and Lancaster, SC. He graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, and has been practicing law for 31 years now. Thomas E. Pope believes in protecting the injured. Learn more about his experience here.