Being injured in a car accident makes the moments immediately afterward a blur. You’re hurt and likely upset and unsure what exactly has happened. It’s a traumatic experience that may have turned your life upside down.
The moments immediately following a car accident are a time to act strategically if you are able. If you have been injured, you face medical bills and time out of work and usually the cost of repairing or replacing a vehicle, as well. There are certain steps to take right after an accident to put yourself in a better position to file a car accident claim and recover insurance compensation.
It takes courage to focus and act to protect your financial future in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident. At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, we provide Kentucky Courage to help injured people. As your Kentucky car accident attorneys, we can develop a claim for you and push for justice and the maximum compensation you need to rebuild your life.
Below we outline what to do after a car accident injury in Kentucky to protect your legal rights — and your chances of recovering full compensation for your losses.
See to everyone’s safety.
Your first duty after a car accident is to the injured. You need to calm yourself and determine whether you have been injured and, if so, how badly. Then, if you are able, check your passengers and the occupants of the other vehicles. If there are injuries or you are asked to assist, phone 911 and summon an ambulance.
Do not move vehicles involved in a crash if there are injuries or a fatality. Instead, turn on hazard lights and, if you have them, place cones or emergency flares where passersby can see them.
If a car accident in Kentucky causes injury, death or your vehicle to be undrivable, you are required by law to contact police. If there is at least $500 in damage to vehicles and/or property, you are to contact the Kentucky State Police. A state trooper or local law enforcement officer should investigate the accident and file a report.
Cooperate with the police but provide only facts. Do not make accusations, and do not blame yourself or accept blame for the accident.
If no law enforcement officer investigates, then each driver must file a written report of the accident with the Kentucky State Police within 10 days of the accident using forms provided by the department.
Be ready to provide driver information.
Gather your vehicle’s registration number and insurance information and be ready to provide it to the other drivers if requested, along with the names and addresses of the vehicle owner, driver and occupants. Police will record the information, so you don’t need to ask for it, but if the other driver asks, you are required to provide it.
You should be polite and businesslike as you deal with others involved in the accident. Do not get drawn into an argument, and do not make accusations. If they are not calm and civil, you might tell them that you have called police and prefer to wait for the police to deal with the crash.
See a doctor, even if you don’t think you’re badly injured.
If you’ve been injured, your priority should be getting medical attention. Cooperate with emergency medical responders at the accident scene. If they suggest that they should take you to the hospital emergency room, let them transport you.
If you do not go to the hospital directly from the accident scene, see a doctor within 12 to 24 hours. There are several serious traumatic injuries that don’t always cause symptoms right away, including potentially deadly head injuries.
In addition to being treated, records of your medical care will become an important part of your case if you seek compensation for car accident injuries. If you wait too long to obtain medical care, an insurance company could argue that your injuries were caused by something else rather than the crash.
After seeing a doctor, be sure to follow all doctors’ orders for care and treatment, including making all follow-up appointments. If you do not, an insurance company could argue this is evidence that you were not badly hurt.
Document the accident scene.
Take photos of the accident scene, including the cars and their damage. Photograph the area—whether the crash was at an intersection, an interstate, a city street or a rural roadway. Show any road conditions that may have contributed to the crash, such as standing water, obscured road signs, or construction cones. Take photos of crash debris, such as broken glass, sheared car body parts, skid marks. Get photos of your injuries and others’.
Record the full names and contact information of all witnesses, including your passengers. If possible, get them to state their information on a video, spelling out email addresses and uncommon names.
Contact your auto insurance carrier within 24 hours of the accident to report it. You should be able to do this online and just provide the basic facts. You may be contacted and asked to provide a statement, but you should decline to do so.
It is very easy to say something to an insurance company that will damage your claim later. Keep your conversation short and factual. Don’t blame anyone or accept blame. Do not downplay your injuries. Politely tell the insurance representative that you don’t feel comfortable talking at this time.
Keep your accident and recovery private.
If you are badly injured, of course your family, employer and close friends will want to keep up with your care and recovery. But you do not want to make any comments or post anything on social media that may undermine your claim. In general, you should decline to discuss a potential or ongoing insurance claim with anyone besides your lawyer, doctor or spouse.
But keep records of the accident for yourself. Within a day or so, write down in your own words what happened, so you’ll have that fresh account later. Save all bills and receipts for costs associated with the accident and your injuries. Keep a journal of your recovery to record advances in your health and well-being as well as setbacks. Note any special occasions or events you miss because of your injuries.
Don’t trust an early settlement offer, and don’t sign anything.
Sometimes an insurance company will offer what looks like a generous settlement after you have filed a car accident claim. However, when serious injuries are involved, a quick settlement offer usually doesn’t reflect the true extent of your specific costs and losses. Insurance settlements are often based on payouts for similar claims and what they think you’ll find reasonable.
What a proper insurance settlement looks like in your case can be calculated once you have completed medical treatment, including rehab. Until then, any offer is an estimate reflecting what the insurer hopes you’ll accept so they can close your claim.
Do not accept a quick settlement offer and never sign anything offered by an insurance adjuster without consulting a personal injury lawyer first. You could be signing your rights away.
Get a lawyer before evidence and people disappear.
The sooner you speak to a Kentucky car accident attorney after an accident, the better off you’ll be. At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, we can move promptly to investigate your accident and contact the other driver, their insurers and others as necessary to demand that they preserve evidence. If necessary, we can serve the other driver with a lawsuit. Even if the driver who caused an accident disappears, his or her insurance company will still have to answer for the lawsuit.
If an at-fault driver moves and becomes hard to track down, their insurer might say they don’t know who was at fault and can’t just take your word for it. Our attorneys Roy Collins and Dan Yeast saw that firsthand when they worked for insurance companies. Insurers always look out for their bottom line first, but now Roy and Dan work for everyday Kentuckians like you.
Also, seek out your own lawyer and be wary of attorneys or medical providers who contact you unsolicited.
Get a free, no-obligation car accident claim initial consultation.
Call Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer as soon as you are able after a car accident to set up your free consultation. We’ll tell you how we see your case and what we can do to obtain compensation for you. If we can move forward, we’ll do it on a contingency basis, meaning we won’t charge a fee unless and until we recover money for you.
We have offices across Kentucky, in Lexington, Somerset, Hazard, London, Manchester, Princeton, Paintsville and Paducah. At Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, we’ll provide the Kentucky Courage you need to get through this tough time.
Contact a Kentucky car accident lawyer ready to help you now at (877) 809-5352 or online.