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The First 24 Hours After A Car Accident: What You Need To Do

Being in an automobile accident can be a distressing and disorienting experience. You might be hurt, your car could be damaged, and you may not know what to do next. In the aftermath of a collision, it’s vital to take specific, strategic actions in the initial 24-hour period to protect oneself, establish liability, and prepare for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings. 

In this guide, we’ll outline the essential steps you must take in the first 24 hours after a car accident to ensure your physical safety, protect your legal rights, and pave the way for a smoother resolution.

  1. Check for Injuries

The first thing that you need to do after a car accident is to ensure that you and the other passengers are safe. Even if you don’t seem hurt, seek emergency care immediately for evaluation and treatment. Injuries might not manifest immediately due to the adrenaline rush.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure that you’re in good condition:

  • If the medical responders just checked you on the spot, seeing a doctor within 24 hours is a must. Some severe injuries don’t show symptoms immediately, even if you feel fine. A doctor can spot these and document the link to the accident.
  • Document injuries with photos as they develop. Bruising often emerges over days. Take note if any swelling, pain, or discomfort persists, as this information can be crucial for medical treatment and insurance claims.
  • Track every medical cost. Personal injury or health insurance may not cover it all. You may recover unpaid costs later, especially if you’re not the at-fault party.
  1. Call 911 

Calling 911 after an accident creates an official record, even for minor crashes without injuries. Having a statement to a police officer strengthens your case if the other driver blames you later. An official statement also makes insurance claims easier.

What Exactly Should You Do After a Car Accident?

However, police may not respond to minor, non-injury accidents anymore, but you can still report the incident to the nearest police station. An official record protects you if you get sued or if more damage is found later.

While calling the police is essential, it’s also wise to consider contacting an attorney promptly. Although it’s not necessary to find a Utah Car Accident Lawyer from the scene, reaching out to them as soon as possible can safeguard your legal rights.

  1. Collect Evidence

Getting as much evidence as possible is essential if there are no responders yet. You might forget important details about the accident, or the road crews might clean up the scene too soon. There’s a high chance of getting insurance claims if you have sufficient evidence. This would also help the authorities with their investigations. 

Here are the ways to gather evidence:

  • Get a clear picture of the cars involved in the accident, road damage, and any debris like glass on the road, skid marks, etc.
  • Get the contact information of anyone involved, like the drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
  • Secure the dashcam footage.

Remember only to be responsible for preserving evidence if it’s safe for you to do so. Your main priority is to seek medical care first.

  1. Contact Your Auto-Insurance Provider Right Away

Reaching out to your auto insurance provider may not be a priority, especially if the accident was not your fault, but it’s one of the things that you need to do 24 hours after the car accident. Your insurer can initiate the claims process to get compensation for vehicle damage or loss.

You may also need to take these additional steps:

  • Your insurance company will pay you its cash value if your car is totaled or damaged in an accident. Once they pay, the car belongs to the insurance company. You must tell your insurer to remove the totaled car from your policy. This stops you from paying premiums on a vehicle you no longer have. It also makes it easier to adjust your coverage if you get a new car. 
  • Pay attention and take notes during your conversation with the insurance provider. Record the date and time of the call, the name of the representative assisting you, and a summary of the discussion, including any agreements or promises made regarding handling your claim.
  1. Contact Your Health Insurance Company

If you suffer some injuries, it’s safe to assume that the at-fault party is responsible for paying the medical bills. However, be responsible for your medical bills for now. Inform your insurance company if you’ve utilized or plan to utilize your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay any initial medical bills arising from the accident. Notifying the insurer of your PIP claim can facilitate processing and prevent improper denial.

Conclusion

Dealing with a car accident is overwhelming. However, taking critical actions in the first 24 hours, like getting checked for injuries, contacting the police, gathering evidence from the scene, and notifying your insurance provider, can make a real difference for your health, vehicle damage claims, and any injury compensation. 

While no one plans for these chaotic situations, understanding these critical first steps means you’ll be prepared to protect yourself if the unfortunate occurs. Stay vigilant on the roads, and drive safely!

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