No matter how cautious of a driver you may be, you will likely be involved in a car accident at some point (maybe more than once) in your life. While you can do your best to drive responsibly, you can’t predict the actions of other motorists.
Delaware has a lot of crashes each year for a small state. In 2018, there were 28,863 statewide collisions – up from 28,080 in 2017. Approximately 5,216 were injured in crashes in 2018 and 104 people were killed.
In the event of a crash, there are some steps you can take to maximize your chances of obtaining full compensation for the damages accrued.
A car accident can be a frustrating or traumatic ordeal. We tend to get angry when another driver blatantly engages in reckless behavior on the road. Moreover, a crash can leave us shaken up.
You may need a moment to shake off the adrenaline and stress. Take a deep breath for a moment and try to regain your composure before exiting your car. Getting angry with the at-fault driver can worsen the situation and can potentially harm your chances at pursuing a strong legal claim.
Follow the standard protocol
Now that you’re calm, be sure to check on all parties involved in the crash and call 911 if anyone is seriously injured. You must also call the police and remain at the scene of the crash until they arrive.
While waiting for the police to arrive, exchange contact information and insurance information with the other drivers. This should include:
- The other driver’s name, address, and phone number
- The name of the other driver’s insurance company
You must also report the crash to your insurance company but be sure to keep your comments brief and to the point. Never speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company under any circumstance.
Start gathering evidence
You can start building a strong legal claim immediately after your crash by doing the following:
- Taking pictures of the crash scene from several different angles
- Documenting the crash by noting:
- What led to the crash
- The actions and behavior of the at-fault driver (arguing, admitting fault, or noticeable impairment)
- Physical details of the crash, such as tire marks in the road and damage to both cars
Speaking to witnesses and noting the names, addresses, phone numbers, and statements made by each witness.
Obtain a copy of the police report
Once a police officer arrives at the scene of your crash, he or she will begin piecing together an in-depth crash report. A police report will include:
- Physical details of the crash scene
- Damage to both cars, as well as damage to nearby objects or structures
- Any injuries reported at the crash
- Any citations issued or arrests made
- If any party involved in the crash was impaired by alcohol or drugs
- If the weather or roadway conditions were a factor
You can obtain a copy of the police report from the Delaware State Police website for a fee of $25.
Get medical attention
Getting medical attention is one of the most important steps to take after a collision. Failure to do so can hurt your chances of obtaining compensation.
Many people fail to get prompt medical attention because they don’t always feel any pain immediately after a crash. The adrenaline and stress of a crash can often mask the symptoms of an injury.
For example, someone who sustains a mild fracture, spinal injury, whiplash, or mild traumatic brain injury, may feel perfectly fine after a crash but experience symptoms days later.
Getting prompt medical attention can benefit you in the following ways:
- Your doctor can diagnose your injury and begin treatment before it worsens.
- A medical evaluation can help your attorney put an accurate value on your claim.
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company can’t argue that your medical attention was delayed.
Consult with a Georgetown car accident attorney
It’s never a good idea to attempt to handle a car accident claim on your own. Insurance companies often take advantage of people who don’t know their rights. They might try to pin the blame on you or offer you a meager financial settlement.
They may come across as friendly and helpful, but a small settlement will not cover all your medical expenses, lost wages, pain, or suffering.
That’s why you need an attorney who can advocate on your behalf and fight for every penny owed to you. Contact the Law Office of Edward C. Gill, P.A., based in Delaware, to get started on your claim.