Know Your Rights: 4 Things to Do After a Personal Injury Accident

Being in an accident can be a scary and overwhelming experience: motor vehicle accidents were the most common personal injury cases in the US, with 38,680 fatalities in 2021. You may be worried about your injuries, your car, and what happens next. While it’s important to focus on your health first, there are also some key legal steps you should take after an accident to protect your rights. Here are four things you should do.

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1. Get Checked Out by a Doctor

Even if you don’t think you’ve been seriously hurt, get checked. Some injuries, like concussions and soft tissue damage, may not be obvious at first. Seeking prompt medical care can document your injuries, provide an official record should you need to file an insurance claim later, and rule out serious conditions. 

Be sure to follow all your doctor’s treatment instructions closely. Failing to get medical care right away or not following treatment plans can be used against you later if you make a claim.

2. Document the Scene

If you are physically able, document what you can about the accident scene with photos of damage, skid marks, road debris, street signs, and sight lines. The police report may not capture all these details. Try to get witness names and contact information too. If your injuries prevent you from doing this yourself, ask a passenger or person who comes to assist at the scene to take photos and gather basic accident details. These documents will help investigators reconstruct what happened.

3. Report the Accident

Even minor accidents like fender benders should be reported to the police. An officer in the city can file an official report, document statements from drivers and witnesses, and help establish key accident facts. 

Most NYC personal injury lawyers will tell you the same thing: you should be as detailed and accurate as you can when providing your statement. If possible, get a copy of the police report, as this will be an important piece of evidence if you have to make a personal injury claim later on.  

4. Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

Another important step to take soon after any serious accident is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. Do this before you speak to an insurance company, as insurers do not have your best interests at heart. The personal injury industry is worth around $53 billion, and insurance companies may pressure you to settle quickly, to preserve their bottom line. Having a qualified attorney advise you means you can receive full and fair compensation. 

A personal injury lawyer understands what legal damages you may be entitled compensation for, including both economic losses like medical bills and lost wages and harder-to-quantify non-economic damages like pain and suffering. A team of personal injury lawyers can manage the claims process and determine if filing a lawsuit is needed to secure the settlement you deserve. It’s wise to have an injury lawyer fighting for your best interests.

Following these four steps can go a long way in protecting your rights and health after an accident. Knowing what to do in those first hours can relieve stress and strengthen your ability to recover damages or secure a settlement later on. Remaining calm and focusing on your safety and long-term rights will set you on the best path after an accident that left you injured.