What to Do after a Car Accident in North Carolina
Protecting Your Right to Fair & Reasonable Compensation
After a car accident or a motor vehicle accident of any kind, it is natural to feel overwhelmed by what has happened and unsure of what you should do next. There are certain things you can do following an accident—as well as some things you should not do—that will help to improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation for your injuries.
At Lanier Law Group, we recommend that you take the following steps after a car accident has occurred:
- Pull over. If you can, try to pull your car off to the side of the road so you do not block traffic. Stopping after an accident is required by law in North Carolina. You could face criminal charges if you do not stop.
- Call the police. Even if the other driver tries to offer you money, you should still call the police and file an official report. This is especially important if, at a later date, you wish to pursue compensation, as a police report can be used as evidence of what happened.
- Check to see if anyone else is injured. If someone appears injured, DO NOT move him or her unless his or her car is on fire. It could lead to additional injuries or worsen an existing injury. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance.
- Exchange information with the other parties and any witnesses. You should get their full names, addresses, and home, work, and cell phone numbers. If possible/applicable, also write down their statements regarding what happened.
- Take notes. Talk with witnesses and write down everything they say/claim to have seen. Write down anything you remember about the accident, including what could have caused the accident. Write down a description of the accident scene. If you have a camera, take as many pictures as you can. Write down anything the at-fault party says or anything a witness claims the at-fault party said.
- Beware of insurance adjusters. If an insurance adjuster comes to the scene, do not answer any of his or her questions. The only person you should speak with is the police officer.
- Seek medical attention. Even if you do not think you are seriously injured, it is still a good idea to see a doctor. Some injuries show no symptoms until several hours or even days later. When you go to your doctor's office, explain that you were involved in an auto accident and that your injuries were caused by the accident.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. Failing to report an accident to your insurance company could make it difficult to file a claim in the future. When you call to report the accident, ask about medical payment coverage. If the at-fault driver does not take care of your property damages in a timely manner, you can ask your insurance company to pay your property damage and seek reimbursement from the at-fault insurance carrier.
- Report the claim to the at-fault driver's insurance company. The other party may not do it, which could cause you to have difficulties recovering compensation.
- Beware of pushy insurance adjusters. An insurance adjuster from the at-fault party's insurance company will investigate the claim. He or she may review the police report, interview witnesses, and speak with the other driver or drivers involved. You DO NOT have to give an interview to this person, regardless of what he or she may tell you. Also, do not sign anything you are unsure about. You could sign a document that waives your right to file a claim in the future.
- Keep a journal. Keep notes about your injuries, medical treatment, rental car expenses, canceled checks, or anything else that involves the accident. You may need to recall details of the accident if your case goes to litigation. Keeping a journal can help you remember those details.
- Keep receipts and maintain a list of expenses. Keep a list of all out-of-pocket expenses associated with the accident. Even hiring a house cleaner because you cannot clean your house by yourself counts as an accident-related expense. It is good to keep receipts for things like prescription medication and rental car expenses as well.
Contact a North Carolina Car Accident Lawyer
Perhaps the most important thing you can do following an accident is to contact an experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer. Only a qualified legal professional can fully explain your various rights and options.
If you have additional questions about what you should do after a car accident, please do not hesitate to contact Lanier Law Group today. We offer free consultations and contingency fees, meaning there are no costs for you unless/until we recover compensation for you, and can help make sure you are prepared for the legal process.