What should you do after a wreck?

  1. According to North Carolina law, when an accident occurs, you are only required to give your name, address, driver’s license number, and the registration information for the vehicle. Do not tell law enforcement, the other driver, or any witnesses that you think you caused the accident.
  2. Seek medical attention. (Placed here on the list because it may be urgent). If you have had any injury, you should be medically examined, even if you do not think you are badly hurt. Do not try to tough it out. First of all, you want to be sure that you are okay. Second, lack of medical treatment and the documentation that it provides can hurt your case. When you are given advice by a doctor, follow it. If you are referred to another doctor, go see him. If you are prescribed medication, take it. Do not miss any doctor’s appointments, but if you must, immediately reschedule the appointment. Make sure that you understand the doctor’s notes and can read them. If you cannot read them, neither can the insurance adjuster. All this not only ensures your recovery, it helps to ensure your ability to be fairly compensated for your injuries.
  3. Call local law enforcement or 911. Call law enforcement or 911 to report the wreck. Cooperate with the police when they arrive. While you are waiting on law enforcement, do not admit fault to the other driver or anyone else at the scene of the wreck.
  4. Write down and photograph what happened. You will best remember what happened at the scene of an wreck if you write it down. What happened just before the wreck, during the wreck, and immediately after the wreck? What did you see, hear, and feel? If you have a camera or cell phone, take pictures of the wreck scene, the vehicles in the wreck, and the injuries to you and to others. You can document more or less depending upon the severity of the wreck, and if liability is obvious. (Please read further under “Documentation”)
  5. Notify your insurance company. You should notify your insurance company after an wreck. Report what happened as accurately and truthfully as you can. It is important to put your own insurance company on notice. The other driver may not be insured or may be underinsured. The other driver’s insurance company also needs to be notified. When talking to the other driver’s insurance company, give your name, your insurance information, and a brief version of what happened. When they ask for more, tell them you will get back to them after you have spoken to a personal injury lawyer. Track your injuries in a journal. Being treated fairly is really dependent on good record­ keeping practices. You must account for everything that is important in your medical treatment and recovery. Write down how you feel and what is different in your daily life because of the wreck. Keep receipts for medical bills, rental cars, and any other expenses because of the wreck. Record the time, date, weather conditions, road conditions, conversations, and any other information about the wreck. (See “Documentation”)
  6. Have medical providers to file on your health insurance. This will ensure that your bills are paid and your credit does not suffer while you wait for your case to resolve. The other driver’s insurance company generally will not pay you until your case is settled. Your healthcare provider will want to be reimbursed from what you collect; however, this amount may be less than what you would have to pay the health care provider because the health care provider may write off part of the bill. There is no guarantee that you will collect, and you do not want a bill with a medical provider hanging over your head.
  7. Go to traffic court. Sometimes, a traffic ticket issued at the scene of an wreck will be dismissed at court if you do not show up to make sure it is prosecuted. It is harder for a ticket to be dismissed if you are there. At other times, the person charged with the ticket may contest the ticket and if you are not there, it will probably not be disputed. Why is this important to you? If the driver who caused the wreck is not found guilty, it makes it easier for the driver to say the wreck was not his fault.
  8. Contact an attorney. Not all lawyers represent wreck victims. And not all lawyers who represent wreck victims handle your case personally or go to court, if necessary, to protect your interests. Find a lawyer who is qualified, deals with you directly, and is willing to try your case if that is what it takes to see that you are fairly compensated.