The shock of an auto accident can leave you wondering what to do in the aftermath when adrenaline is pumping through your body. You may feel confused about how you got in this position, or it may be evident who caused the collisions. Either way, you should take steps to protect your physical health and your right to compensation for damages. You should also avoid things that could hinder your ability to recover financially and emotionally.
What You Should Do After An Auto Accident
The first step you should take after an auto accident is to give yourself a second to breathe before you move. This could mean fighting your gut instinct and the adrenaline rushing through your body, which can mask the pain of even the most severe injuries. Take a moment to assess your body for any visible injuries, and then do the same for your passengers. If anyone needs emergency medical attention, call 911. Then follow these steps:
- Remain at the scene. Leaving the location of the accident before exchanging information or getting permission from the officers could result in trouble, even if you are not at fault for the accident.
- Contact the police. Even if the damages are minor, you should contact the police to get an official report on file. Additionally, Massachusetts law requires you to contact the police if there are significant damages and bodily injuries. When the police arrive, they will investigate the accident and collect their findings in the report, including fault determination.
- Assess the position of the vehicles. If the collision occurred in a heavy-traffic area, move the cars to the side of the road to prevent further accidents. Whether you can move the vehicles or not, you should move yourself and others to a safe space to wait for the police.
- Exchange information. Ask any other drivers to provide their names, contact information, insurance information, and licenses. Also, ask anyone else on the scene, including eyewitnesses, for their contact information.
- Document everything. Collect evidence wherever you can. Start by taking photos of the crash, the damage to the vehicles, the vehicle license plate numbers, the surrounding area, and any injuries you can see on your body.
- Write down the details. While your memory is most precise, take a moment to write down what happened and the details of the vehicles involved. Include the location, date, and time. If you do not have a pen and paper, record it on a video.
- Seek medical care. If you do not need to call 911, contact your primary care physician or go to urgent care or the hospital as soon as possible.
The last step you should take is to speak to a personal injury attorney. The bulk of their work involves auto accident cases. They can help you understand the next steps you should take to ensure you receive the financial compensation you need.
What You Should Not Do After An Auto Accident
Knowing what not to do in the aftermath of an auto accident is just as important as what you should do. Some common mistakes people make include:
- Not remaining quiet. Talking to anyone about the accident could be a detriment to your case. For example, immediately after the accident, a simple “I’m sorry” implies guilt and could be used against you. In addition, keeping silent includes avoiding social media. It is natural to want to share any substantially devastating occurrence in life, but the insurance company will monitor your activity online to search for any admission of fault.
- Not seeking medical attention. You may think it wise to skip the doctor, but even a minor auto accident can result in lasting injuries. For example, internal injuries can sometimes take days to manifest symptoms, and by then, they could cause life-threatening damage. Additionally, it could damage your case. Without medical records and bills, claiming damages for bodily injuries can be difficult.
- Not contacting the police. The law requires you to report the accident if the accident resulted in bodily injury or significant property damage. However, even if the accident was minor, with no injuries and minimal damage, you should still report it.
If you have questions about the aftermath of your accident and whether or not you have the right to file a lawsuit, speaking with an injury attorney is typically your best option. The better you understand the laws that could affect your case, the more likely you will receive fair compensation.
How No-Fault Insurance Can Affect Your Case
Massachusetts is a no-fault auto insurance state. Anyone with a driver’s license and a vehicle must purchase personal injury protection insurance. The PIP insurance requirement mandates contacting your insurance company in the event of an accident regardless of who was at fault. It covers damages up to $8,000, including medical bills, 75% of your lost income, and a portion of the cost of necessary services, such as household help or childcare.
The problem with PIP insurance is that it does not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, or mental anguish. It also does not cover property damage. To step outside the PIP requirements and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, you must meet the threshold for damages set by the state.
The Threshold for Filing a Lawsuit
In Massachusetts, you can bypass PIP claims and file a lawsuit if your medical expenses exceed $2,000 and you suffer severe injuries. The law also specifies the level of severity for injuries. For example, you could file a lawsuit if you suffered permanent disability, severe disfigurement, fractured bones, or any loss of sight or hearing. Bypassing the no-fault insurance requirement also allows you to pursue compensation for all damages, including property damage and emotional and psychological losses. If you have questions about the value of your claim and the losses you can recover, talking to an experienced auto accident attorney could help you receive the maximum available compensation.
Advantages of Contacting an Auto Accident Attorney
The legal process can be complex and cumbersome for anyone unfamiliar with auto accident cases, especially while you try to heal from severe injuries. The primary advantage of hiring an auto accident attorney is that you have someone on your side who understands the law and the stakes of your case. You should not have to face the physical, financial, emotional, and legal consequences of someone else’s negligent action alone. Your auto accident attorney will:
- Take care of the paperwork
- Represent you in contact with the insurance company
- Investigate your accident
- Collect evidence to value your claim
- Fight for a fair settlement
- Protect your rights throughout the process
If you have questions about the details of your case, the auto accident attorneys at Jason Stone Injury Lawyers are available to help you figure out your next move. We have over 20 years of experience fighting for personal injury victims in Boston, and we understand the financial burden you face. To ensure you have the legal representation you need without adding to that burden, we charge no upfront fees for our services. The first element of the Stone Cold Guarantee states that we only get paid when you get the compensation you deserve. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).