9 Things to Do After a Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident is a frightening experience. However, there are several things you can do in the immediate aftermath of the crash to protect your physical well-being, as well as your legal right to compensation.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a recent car accident in Kansas City or anywhere in Missouri, continue reading to learn what steps to take after the crash. You can also click here to visit our Car Accidents page and learn more about how our attorneys at Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman can help you get back on your feet. We offer free initial consultations and contingency fees, meaning you do not owe anything when you hire our firm unless we recover compensation for you.
Stay at the Scene
After any accident, no matter how major or minor, you should always remain at the scene to assess the damage, provide pertinent information, and attempt to render reasonable aid to the others involved. Failing to do any of these things and, instead, leaving the scene of the crash, is considered a hit-and-run under Missouri laws.
Fleeing the scene of an accident is not only morally wrong, but it is also a crime. Additionally, if you do not stop after a crash, you will not be able to obtain the other driver’s name or insurance information, meaning you will not be able to file a claim for damages with their insurance provider. Because Missouri follows an at-fault car accident system, this could leave you with little to no options when it comes to recovering compensation for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, property damage, and other losses caused by the accident.
Seek Medical Attention
In addition to remaining at the scene of the accident, one of the first and most important things you should do after the crash is seek medical attention. Evaluate yourself and others for injuries and, if necessary, call 911.
You should avoid moving anyone (including yourself) who is or appears severely injured unless absolutely necessary. Often, moving an injured individual can exacerbate injuries and possibly even lead to permanent damage. Instead, wait for paramedics to arrive. Do not refuse medical attention if you are hurt, even if you are worried about how you will pay for your treatment and care. The purpose of filing a car accident injury claim is to recover financial compensation for your accident-related damages, including all medical bills and future medical expenses.
Call the Police
You should always report any major car accident to local law enforcement, but you are required by state law to report any collision that results in bodily injury, death, or property damage of more than $500. If you or anyone else was injured, call the police and wait for a responding officer to arrive at the scene. Once they have arrived, you can provide details about what happened. These details can be crucial to the eventual outcome of your car accident claim.
When reporting the accident to the police, be clear and honest about what occurred but avoid admitting or assigning blame. You should avoid making any statements that could even be construed as admitting fault, such as saying, “I’m sorry.” Be direct and to the point, relating just the facts and nothing else.
Exchange Information with Others Involved
Another incredibly important thing to do after a car accident in Missouri is exchange pertinent information with the other driver (or other party/parties) involved in the crash.
At minimum, you’ll want to get the other party’s:
- Phone number
- Driver’s license number
- Insurance information, including the name of the insurance provider and the policy number
You should also provide your own information to the other driver (or party/parties) involved. Again, avoiding discussing fault with the other party. When you file your claim, the insurance adjuster will determine who was at fault for the accident (or what degree of fault both parties share). If you disagree with the insurance adjuster’s assessment, you may take legal action.
Document & Preserve Evidence
It is also very important that you document and preserve as much evidence as possible after an accident. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene, as well as your injuries and any damage to your vehicle or other personal property, on your cell phone or another device. If there were any witnesses to the crash, try to get their name(s) and contact information, as well as a brief statement of what they saw.
As soon as possible after the crash, while your memory of the accident is still fresh, write down the following:
- The date, time, and location of the crash
- The make, model, color, and license plate of the other vehicle(s) involved
- The name, contact information, and insurance information of the other driver
- Everything you can remember about the events leading up to and immediately following the accident (e.g., Did the other driver run a stop sign? Were they using a cell phone? Did you swerve to try to avoid a collision?)
You should also document your injuries and any medical treatment you received immediately after the crash, as well as in the hours and days following the accident. Keep a detailed record of your medical care, including all out-of-pocket expenses related to your treatment. You can also request copies of your medical records and/or bills.
If possible, you should also avoid throwing out or repairing any damaged personal items or property—including your vehicle—until you have resolved your case. If you absolutely must get rid of or repair damaged property, be sure to take pictures of the damage and/or write down a detailed list of damages prior to doing so. This can be incredibly helpful in proving the extent of your damages and losses in a future car accident claim.
Report the Accident
In Missouri, you are required to report any car accident that results in injury, death, or damage valued at over $500 to law enforcement.
You are also required to file an accident report (Form 1140) with the Missouri Driver License Bureau if the collision:
- Happened less than 12 months (1 year) ago
- Involved at least one uninsured motorist
- Resulted in injury, death, or property damage in excess of $500
You only need to file the accident report with the Driver License Bureau if all of the above are true. However, you can still file an accident report if the collision involved an uninsured motorist, even if the other two circumstances were not met.
You should also report the accident to your own insurance provider right away. Most car insurance policies include information on when policyholders must notify the provider about a collision; make sure you read and understand your policies—and the responsibilities required of you—to avoid losing your right to receive all available compensation.
Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations
As the claims process progresses, it is very important that you follow all of your doctor’s recommendations, orders, advice, and treatment programs. This includes taking time off work or returning only to light-duty work while you heal. If you do anything that contradicts your doctor’s recommendations, even if you are starting to feel better, the insurance company could use this as evidence against you.
Avoid Discussing the Accident with Others
As much as possible, avoid talking about the crash with others, including friends and family. Do not post about the accident on social media, as this could eventually come back to hurt your claim.
You should also avoid talking to any adjusters from the other person’s insurance company. Often, these adjusters will call accident victims—or even visit them in person at their homes or in the hospital—in the hours and days after a crash. While it may seem that they are simply collecting information to decide on your claim, many insurance adjusters do everything possible to dispute, devalue, or outright deny rightful claims. They may try to trick you into saying something that could be construed as admitting fault, or they may try to get you to take a lowball settlement that, once accepted, limits your right to a full recovery. At Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, we strongly advise you against talking to the other person or party’s insurance company after a car accident.
Protect Your Rights
One of the best things you can do to protect your rights after a car accident in Kansas City or elsewhere in Missouri is contact a personal injury lawyer. An attorney will be able to help you navigate the process of gathering evidence, submitting paperwork, and negotiating a fair settlement. If the insurance company refuses to play fair, your lawyer will also be able to represent you and your rights at trial.
At Shamberg, Johnson & Bergman, our Kansas City car accident lawyers have decades of experience handling all types of serious motor vehicle collision claims, including those involving semi-trucks, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, dangerous highway design, and more. After an accident, we can help you understand your options and protect your rights.
To date, we have secured more than $625 million in compensation on behalf of our clients. Our team is ready to fight for you, not only helping you manage the legal challenges you are up against but also the physical and financial hardships you face, as well.