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You Were Just in an Accident – Now What? 5-Step Car Accident Checklist

what to do after car accident

You think you know what to do if you get into a car accident, but actually following through is harder than it seems when you’re shaken up. One wrong move and your entire claim could go up in smoke before you even realize what happened. Don’t learn the hard way – get ahead of the game by reviewing the proper protocol now.

Most people make critical mistakes after an accident out of ignorance or because their judgment was impaired by the jarring experience. Things like apologizing, neglecting to gather evidence, or failing to file prompt paperwork can completely derail an otherwise solid case. This checklist walks you through exactly what to do after a collision while the event is still fresh.

Step 1: Secure the Scene and Call for Help

If it’s safe to do so, stop your vehicle, park, turn the engine off, and your hazard lights on. Check yourself and your passengers for injuries. If anyone is injured or there is significant property damage, call 911 immediately and request assistance. Even if the injuries seem minor, it’s essential to have paramedics evaluate the situation.

Step 2: Get Medical Attention

Your health and well-being should be a top priority after a car accident. Even if you initially feel fine, promptly seeking medical attention is essential. Some injuries, like whiplash or internal bleeding, may not present symptoms immediately.

Additionally, by seeking medical care, you create a documented record of any injuries sustained in the accident. These medical records can serve as crucial evidence in insurance claims and personal injury cases.

At Pickford Law, our personal injury attorneys have extensive experience in handling car accident cases. If you’ve been in an accident that wasn’t your fault, we may be able to help you recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the accident.

Step 3: Gather Information and Evidence

Gathering evidence after an accident is crucial, but if you’re seriously injured, don’t worry about it – focus on your health first. Unless it’s a hit-and-run, the police will likely collect basic information for you, which you can obtain later through the official crash report. However, if you’re able, here’s a list of things you should try to document at the scene:

  • Name(s) of the other driver (s)
  • Contact details for the other driver (s)
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • License plate numbers
  • Contact information for any witnesses

You can also use your smartphone to take clear photos and videos of the accident scene. Capture images of vehicle damage, road conditions, traffic signals, and any visible injuries. These visual records can serve as powerful evidence to support your claims.

Step 4: Notify Your Car Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company of the accident within 24-48 hours after the accident. When you speak with your insurance provider, stick to the facts and avoid admitting fault or speculating about the cause of the accident.

Provide them with the details you gathered at the scene:

  • The other parties’ insurance information
  • Police report details
  • Any relevant documentation or evidence

Your insurance company will advise you on the next steps for repairing your vehicle and filing a claim. Follow their instructions carefully. Be sure to meet all deadlines to ensure a smooth claims process.

Dealing with Uninsured Drivers

Unfortunately, some drivers don’t have proper insurance coverage. If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, your options may be limited.

In Tennessee, drivers are required to carry a minimum level of liability insurance to operate a vehicle legally. However, if the other driver lacks insurance coverage, you may need to file a claim under your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, if you have it.

Our attorneys at Pickford Law can guide you through the process of dealing with uninsured drivers and help you explore all available options for seeking compensation, including pursuing legal action if necessary.

Step 5: Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Memphis Car Accident Lawyer

Even if the accident seemed minor, it’s always a good idea to have an experienced car accident attorney evaluate your case. Many injuries or complicating factors don’t reveal themselves immediately, and an insurance company will seize any opportunity to devalue or deny your claim.

In Memphis, our injury lawyers at Pickford Law Firm offer a free, no-obligation case evaluation, in which we review the details of your accident, assess the strength of your claim, explain your rights, and advise you on the best path forward – all at no upfront cost.

Don’t accept a lowball settlement that fails to account for your full damages, from current and future medical bills to lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. With our car accident lawyers on your side from the start, you can leverage years of experience maximizing settlements for clients like you.

Contact us today to discuss your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to call the police after a minor car accident in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, you are legally required to report any car accident involving injury, death, or property damage to the local police department or the nearest Tennessee Highway Patrol office. Calling the police ensures there is an official report that documents the accident details.

How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, you generally have one year from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury claim. However, it’s best to file as soon as possible to preserve evidence and witness accounts.

Can I be compensated for pain and suffering after a car accident in Tennessee?

Yes, if another driver was at-fault, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering in addition to economic damages like medical bills and lost wages. Tennessee allows recovery for physical and mental anguish caused by the accident. Damages for pain and suffering may be limited.

Author Bio

Shalondra Grandberry Pickford

Shalondra Grandberry Pickford is a highly skilled attorney and the founder of Pickford Law. Her legal practice is committed to representing clients on various legal matters, including social security disability, veterans’ disability, estate planning, and personal injury. With over ten years of experience in law and a license to practice in Tennessee and Arkansas, Shalondra is committed to providing personalized and effective legal representation to each client.

Shalondra received her Juris Doctorate from The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and is a member of the Tennessee and Arkansas State Bar Associations. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the exclusive Rising Stars award from Super Lawyers in 2017 and again in 2022.

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