After a car accident, many people do not know what to do. Our lawyers recommend you take the following steps to ensure evidence is properly documented and your rights are protected. All too often we see people trust the other person to say and do the right thing: many times this does not happen. What seems like a uncontested, simple auto accident and often, without supporting evidence, turn into a contested “he said she said” finger pointing.
Here are the steps we suggest you take after a car accident:
After a car accident in Missouri, do you call the police? Many times, people think if they are involved in a minor car accident, calling the police is unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth! Even if your car accident only involves property damage, people can later change their story about what happened. If they do, you will have no proof of what occurred. Insurance companies will have to adjust your claim based upon competing information, and may use this as an escape hatch to avoid paying a claim, leaving you to pay a deductible you should not be responsible for.
Police officers usually do an average job in gathering pertinent information. However, more times than not, we see incomplete and inaccurate information in police reports. Make sure you take the time to ensure the police officer takes down your entire statement. If you do not feel as though the officer did an adequate job, you can file a supplemental addendum with the police department to be included with the report.
Beyond what the involved drivers state, police officers may analyze the position of the vehicles, analyze traffic conditions and rights of way. Some times police officers will determine fault, but you need to realize these conclusions are not admissible in a court of law. This is why the underlying data the police officer relies upon for this conclusion must be documented.
Usually, Missouri police officers will not take pictures of a car accident scene, unless it involves a wrongful death. For this reason, it is wise to keep a disposable camera in your car at all times, or use your cellular phone to take photographs. These photos can be later used to show the relative positions of the cars. Make sure to take these pictures before the cars are moved from the roadway! This is especially true for side impact car accidents and front impact car accidents.
After you call the police, if you are injured or think you sustained personal injury, accept help! Depending upon your ability to function, you may need an ambulance. If there is any question whatsoever about your ability to drive a car, take an ambulance to the nearest hospital. There is absolutely no reason to jeopardize others on the roadway by driving with injuries.
When you arrive at the hospital, make sure to describe every ache and pain you have. Insurance adjusters look at the emergency department records to determine what you initially complained of. Although it is common knowledge that people can have latent injuries, insurance companies love to deny the existence of a serious injury if they are not immediately described in the ambulance or hospital.
When you are released from the hospital, make sure to follow up with your doctors as directed by the hospital. Often, after you return home, you will begin to feel worse. Injuries that you did not recognize will begin to surface. It is a good practice to take notes about what hurts, when it hurts, and for how long it hurts. Later, during a personal injury lawsuit, this information will be very important to remember. Always keep scheduled doctor appointments and any missed time from work, even if you use sick or vacation time.
The Bradley Law Firm has a crash app, available both on the Android and Iphone platforms. Just search for “The Bradley Law Firm” and download the app. You can perform all of the features discussed above, and have quick access to great legal information.
If you have questions about what do after a Missouri car accident, contact our personal injury lawyers at 314-400-0000. We are available to provide free legal advice about Missouri car accidents and will help you begin the process of putting your life back together.