At the Law Office of Glenn & West, LLC, we know that being involved in a car accident can be an upsetting experience. When you’re in a car accident, the shock can leave you feeling paralyzed about what to do next. Knowing what first steps to take after a car accident in Illinois can be a comfort, help you to check off everything that needs to get done, and may expedite the claims process. Here’s a list of steps to take after a car accident. For more help navigating your car accident claim and getting the settlement you deserve, call our law firm directly today.
Pull Over to a Safe Location
The very first thing that you should do after being involved in a car accident is to move your vehicle to a safe location where it is out of the way of traffic and is not at risk of being hit a second time. Note that if your vehicle is already in a safe location, not moving it until the police arrive or until pictures can be taken may be ideal.
Check for Injuries
Once your vehicle is in a safe location, the second thing that you should do is assess for injuries. Are you harmed? Is anyone in your vehicle harmed? Once you have checked for injuries within your own vehicle, you should approach the other vehicle involved and see if anyone in that vehicle—or any pedestrians, cyclists, etc.—have been harmed.
Call the Police
Especially if there are injuries, you should call the police immediately. Tell the operator your location and, if anyone is injured, as many details of the injury as you can. The operator may provide you with instructions on how to administer medical care while help is on the way. Note that reporting an accident that causes $1,500 or more in property damage or causes any injuries is required in Illinois.
As you wait for the police to arrive, now is a great time to exchange information with the other driver. Types of information you’ll want to trade include:
- Contact information
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information and policy number
- Vehicle license plate number
- Vehicle make, model, and color
You and the other driver may need to interact again in the future. More likely, though, your insurance adjusters will need to interact with one another, so having contact information and insurance policy information is very important.
Another thing to do while you wait for the police to arrive is to gather evidence. Gathering evidence will include writing down as much as you can remember about how the accident happened (it’s best to do this while the accident is fresh in your mind). You should also:
- Take photos of the accident scene and the vehicles, focusing on getting as many photos as possible from different angles;
- Identify any eyewitnesses to the accident and asking for their contact information as well, as a brief description of what they saw
- Note any other important details and photographing them if possible, such as time of day, presence of traffic signs, weather and lighting, etc.
Give a Statement
Once the police arrive, it’s important that you give a statement. When you give a statement, do not admit fault; instead, describe your experience to the best of your ability without exaggerating or providing details you don’t know. For example, if you aren’t sure what speed you were traveling at the time of the accident, don’t make something up—just say, “I don’t know.” After your statement is complete, request a copy and write down the responding officer’s name and badge number.
Seek Medical Care
It’s important that you seek medical care after a car accident, even if the car accident didn’t feel particularly serious or if you don’t think you have any injuries (and even more important if your injuries are serious). If you don’t seek medical care and then later notice that you do have an injury—such as a concussion, which isn’t immediately obvious—you may have a hard time convincing the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim that your injury is connected to the car accident since you didn’t seek care immediately. Getting medical care after a crash is the best way to protect your right to damages and to protect your health and wellbeing.
Provide Your Insurer with Notice
After filing a police report and seeking medical care, the next most important thing to do is to call your insurance company and provide them with notice of the accident. Notice of the accident should be provided within 24-48 hours of the crash occurring. If you wait longer than this, the insurance company could have grounds to deny your claim. When the insurance adjuster asks for a statement, take the same approach that you did when providing a police report to the police: be honest, but do not admit fault or provide details about which you’re unsure. Do not claim to know the full extent of damages and do not make definitive statements that could come back to harm your rights to damages later.
Call an Attorney
There is no requirement to work with a car accident attorney in Illinois after an Illinois car accident, but doing so may be critical to getting the settlement that you deserve. This is because insurance adjusters tend to lowball settlement offers, especially when they know that the claimant doesn’t have legal representation. By working with an attorney, you may be able to expedite the claims process, receive a higher settlement offer, and better negotiate a settlement that fully compensates you. Your attorney will be responsible for gathering evidence, proving fault, proving liability, and representing you in all interactions with the insurance adjuster.
Call Glenn & West Today
At the Law Office of Glenn & West, LLC, our Illinois car accident attorneys have years of experience and a reputation for excellence. If you’ve been in a crash and need legal help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today for a free consultation. We are here for you.