If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in Kansas or Missouri that was not your fault, you are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the negligent driver. However, the steps you take right after your collision and in the early days of your recovery from your injuries can have a direct impact on the amount of compensation you may recover from the at-fault motorist's insurance company.
It can be confusing to know what to do when you are frightened and injured in a motor vehicle crash. Here's a convenient list of the actions you need to take.
#1: Get Medical Care
The first step you need to take is to get immediate medical care if you suffered injuries in the accident. Even if you do not believe that you were hurt or think your injuries are minor, arrange to be examined by a doctor within 48 hours of the collision. This is important for two reasons:
- You protect your health. You may have suffered a serious injury, like a traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding, or a spinal injury, and not realize it until days or weeks later when you start experiencing symptoms—sometimes life-threatening.
- You protect your financial recovery. By getting prompt medical care, you limit the insurance company's ability to argue about the cause of your injuries and how severe they are.
#2: Call the Police
The second step you should take at the crash scene is to call the police. They will conduct an investigation and prepare a police report that could help you prove that the other driver's negligence was the cause of your collision. Useful information in the police report may include:
- Contact information for the at-fault motorist and their insurance company
- Details of the date, time, and place of the crash and how it occurred
- Driver and witness statements
- Diagram of the collision scene
- Officer's conclusions as to who was at fault
- Any traffic citations issued
#3: Obtain Contact Information
While you are waiting for the police and emergency medical care, you should get the contact information for the negligent driver and their insurance company. You should also obtain this information for any witnesses who saw the accident happen.
#4: Preserve Evidence
Start collecting evidence at the collision scene to build a winning case. Take pictures and/or video with your cellphone camera of the damage to the motor vehicles, road and weather conditions, your injuries, and anything else you think could be helpful. You should also talk to eyewitnesses and get their contact information before they disappear and you cannot find them. Do not rely on the police to do this for you. In addition, preserve your clothes and shoes in the same condition they were in after the wreck in a sealed bag. If your case goes to trial, they could be compelling evidence to show the jury.
#5: Notify Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company to notify them of the collision. You should take this step even if you do not plan to file a claim with them. You are most likely obligated to inform them of the crash under your insurance contract with them. In addition, this protects your right to file a claim if the negligent driver's insurance limits are not sufficient to fully compensate you for your injuries.
#6: Don't Accept a Quick Settlement
If you have a strong case against the negligent driver, the insurance company could offer you a quick settlement of your claim. Resist the temptation to accept it. The adjuster is most likely offering to settle your case for far less than you deserve to save the insurance company money. Never accept an offer without first consulting with a lawyer to protect your rights.
#7: Hire a Lawyer
If you want to obtain the maximum recovery in your settlement, you should retain a skilled motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible after your crash. They will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your accident, collect the evidence you need to prove your case, and fight with the insurance company so that you receive the money you deserve.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Area Motor Vehicle Accident?
If you've been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you need to speak with an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible. It will cost you nothing to hire us because we handle these cases on a contingency fee basis where you only pay us if we win your case. We will also front the costs and fees you could incur. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.