Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience, even if you manage to walk away from it unscathed. However, each year, thousands of Missourians aren’t so lucky.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were over 52,000 people who were injured in car crashes in the state in 2021 alone. If this happened to you or someone you love, you should speak with a personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking compensation.
For more information about this and to learn what to do after an accident to increase your chances of a fair settlement, call us at Chionuma Law Firm, LLC in Kansas City, Missouri. We’re able to serve clients throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, including those in Lee's Summit, Independence, and Liberty.
Steps to Take After an Accident
Although it’s hard to think of the right thing to do after an incident like this, taking the following steps below can help ensure you’re safe and cared for and that you’ll have sufficient evidence to use while filing insurance claims or a lawsuit.
Safety and Medical Care
The top priority is getting medical care after an accident, and this is important for three main reasons. The first is for your own sake. Everyone who was involved in the car accident should be evaluated by a medical professional. This is true even if you think your injuries are minor or you don’t feel injured at all.
The second priority is to start accumulating documentation, medical reports, diagnoses, and billing statements. You’ll need these for filing a car accident insurance claim and all personal injury lawsuits.
Lastly, if you don’t seek medical attention immediately, the insurance company may use this information against you to try to claim your injuries aren’t that serious and, therefore, you don’t need as much (or any) compensation.
Call the Police
After you’ve checked on the physical safety of everyone involved, you’ll need to call the police and have them write up an official report. You should get the information of the officer on the scene and request a copy of this report, which will also be required for all claims.
Central to any successful claim or lawsuit is evidence, and in a car accident, this is done primarily through documentation. First, you’ll want to get contact and insurance information from the other driver(s) as well as contact information for any witnesses who saw what happened. These, along with medical documents, police reports, and your own account of what happened, will be essential to building a strong case. Try to take pictures or videos of the incident as soon as possible.
No matter who was at fault for the accident occurring, you should always notify your insurance company that the crash occurred, and this is especially true if anyone was injured. Some insurance companies have specific rules about how long after an accident it must be reported. This deadline can be as few as two days, so this step should not be postponed.
Hire an Attorney
Last but not least, you should contact a local car accident attorney to consult with. An experienced attorney can make sure you’ve taken all the required steps and that the documentation you’ve acquired is sufficient for mounting a strong case.
Of course, not every insurance claim will go smoothly, and there are many potential pitfalls of filing an accident claim. For example, you may have been hit by an uninsured driver, which means you’ll have to first file a claim with your own insurance provider and then seek compensation through a lawsuit.
You also may not be aware of the total costs you’ll be facing, especially if you’ve suffered serious injuries. It’s important to make sure your medical costs are final before you agree to a settlement. All too often, injuries that seem minor at first can become increasingly serious as time goes by and can require frequent medical attention and physical therapy to reach full recovery.
Another pitfall can happen when you’re negotiating with an insurance adjuster. Adjusters are notorious for pressuring people into taking the first settlement offered, but this will almost always be lower than what you deserve. You should never accept a low first offer, and it’s recommended that your attorney should handle communications with the insurance adjusters.
Lastly, victims of accidents can run into pitfalls if they wait too long to take action. In Missouri, you have five years from the date of the accident to file a claim.
Legal Advocacy When You Need It Most
If you’re in the Kansas City, Missouri, area and would like to speak with a skilled car accident attorney, reach out to us at Chionuma Law Firm, LLC. We’ll take the time to truly listen to your story and concerns and help you through this difficult process every step of the way.