Car accidents happen in an instant. In the aftermath, it’s natural to feel stunned or even overwhelmed. But what you do and say after a car accident can significantly impact your ability to recover compensation for your injuries. Knowing what to do ― and what not to do ― can safeguard your health and finances after a wreck.
Here’s a list of the most crucial dos and don’ts after a car accident in North Carolina.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in North Carolina?
After a crash, you should:
- Pull over – If possible, pull your vehicle over to the shoulder of the road or another safe location. This will reduce the risk of a secondary crash. If your car cannot move, turn on your hazard lights and remain seated inside while you wait for help.
- Check for injuries – Look yourself over carefully for signs of injury. Then check with passengers in your vehicle and the occupants of any other cars involved in the collision. If anyone is unconscious or critically injured, do not move them.
- Call the police – Call 911 as soon as possible. In North Carolina, you must call the police and report a crash if someone died or suffered injuries. Cooperate with law enforcement when they arrive on the scene. They will create an accident report that contains a description of your injuries and property damage, witness contact information, driver information, and an initial determination of the accident’s cause.
- Exchange information – While this information will most likely be available on the police report, you should exchange insurance and contact details with any drivers involved in the crash. Get their full names, phone numbers, mailing addresses, vehicle license plate numbers, registration info, and insurance information.
- Gather evidence – Take pictures and videos at the accident scene so that you have a visual record of the crash. Include photos of your injuries, vehicle damage, debris, road conditions, and the entire crash site from different angles. Jot down any details about how the accident occurred while they’re still fresh in your mind. Speak to any bystanders who may have seen the accident happen. Witness testimony can significantly strengthen your case.
- Seek medical attention – See a doctor even if you don’t need emergency medical attention. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, with symptoms that emerge over time.
- Keep receipts and maintain a list of expenses – Keep a record of all costs related to treating your injuries, including hospital bills, surgery costs, prescription medication expenses, rehabilitative care bills, and purchases of medical equipment and home health care. If you have to get your vehicle repaired or replaced, keep a record of related estimates and bills.
- Get a lawyer – Consult a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Trying to navigate the claims process on your own can be stressful, and insurance companies are notorious for taking advantage of injured claimants while they are vulnerable. A skilled attorney can offer legal advice, handle communications with the insurance company, negotiate a full and fair settlement on your behalf, and take your case to trial if that’s what it takes to pursue the results you deserve.
What Should I Not Do After a Car Accident in North Carolina?
You can do many things to protect your car accident claim. But some things could jeopardize your claim. Here’s what not to do after a car accident in North Carolina:
- Never leave the scene – You must stop after a crash. If you flee the scene without exchanging information with the other driver, you could be considered a hit-and-run driver, which carries legal consequences. If any injuries occurred or someone died in the accident, you must call 911 and wait for law enforcement to arrive.
- Don’t admit fault – Never admit fault to the other driver, their insurance provider, law enforcement, or anyone else. You should also avoid phrases like “I’m all right” or even “I’m sorry.” Though apologizing seems like the polite thing to do, the insurance company for the other driver may use your words to shift blame for the accident onto you and deny your claim.
- Don’t lose your temper – Avoid an argument with the other driver, even if they caused the crash. If the other driver reacts angrily, getting hot-tempered puts you at risk for further harm if the situation escalates. Remain calm until law enforcement arrives.
- Never discuss the accident with another party – Don’t discuss or speculate about the crash with anyone until your claim is settled. Try to avoid discussing it at length with the other driver, passengers, and witnesses at the scene. What you say after an accident can have consequences for your claim.
- Avoid social media – Posting about the accident online is dangerous until your case is resolved. Remember: the insurance company can use anything you say about the accident publicly against you.
- Don’t wait to contact an attorney – You might think that hiring a car accident attorney to handle your case is just one more expense you don’t need, but the truth is that you could ultimately end up with significant out-of-pocket expenses if you try to negotiate the claim alone. North Carolina has some of the harshest negligence laws in the country. Without a lawyer’s help, you could lose out on compensation when you need it most.
Should I Contact a Car Accident Lawyer If I Am Injured in a NC Car Wreck?
If you have been involved in a NC car accident, you should seek legal help immediately. North Carolina has a statute of limitations that lasts only 3 years, which means if you don’t act quickly, you could lose your chance at compensation.
How a Durham, NC Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
If you were injured in a car accident, don’t delay. Contact Kreger Brodish LLP to learn how our Durham car accident lawyers can help with your case. We pride ourselves on our high-quality legal services, our personalized attention to our clients, and the top-dollar verdicts and settlements we have recovered on their behalf. Call or contact us today for a free consultation.