What to Do in the First 30 Days After a Car Crash

Chicago experiences a significant number of car accidents annually. Estimates suggest nearly 100,000 car crashes occur each year. While most accidents cause property damage only, a substantial number involve injuries. Driver error is a leading cause, often involving distracted driving or driving under the influence.

The aftermath of a car accident can be a whirlwind of emotions. The shock and adrenaline of the moment can leave you feeling disoriented and confused. You might be dealing with physical injuries, property damage, and the overwhelming question of ‘what now?’

Taking immediate action is crucial. Following key steps in the first 30 days after the accident can protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

The Critical First 30 Days After a Car Crash

Following a car crash, the first 30 days are critical in safeguarding your well-being and future options. Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1. Check for Injuries and Seek Medical Attention

First, check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is injured, call emergency services right away. Seeking medical attention promptly is vital, even if you don’t feel seriously hurt.

Some injuries, like whiplash or internal injuries, may not show symptoms right away. A medical professional can identify and document any injuries, provide necessary treatment, and create a medical record that can be important for insurance and legal purposes later on.

Move Your Vehicle

If your vehicle is in a dangerous location, move it to the side of the road to avoid further accidents as long as it is safe to do so. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.

Step 2. Document the Accident Scene

Thoroughly documenting the accident scene is crucial for supporting your insurance claim and any potential legal actions. Start by taking clear photos and videos of the scene from multiple angles.

Capture the positions of the vehicles, any visible damage to all involved vehicles, and any injuries sustained. Ensure that your photos include landmarks, road signs, and traffic signals to provide context to the accident.

No Detail is Irrelevant

In addition to visual documentation, take detailed notes about the accident. Record the time and date, the exact location, and the weather conditions at the time of the crash. Note any other relevant factors, such as road conditions, lighting, and unusual circumstances, that may have contributed to the accident.

Witness Statements

Gathering witness information is equally important. If there are any witnesses, obtain their names, contact information, and a brief statement of what they saw. Witnesses can provide valuable third-party perspectives that support your version of events.

Step 3. Notify the Authorities

Reporting the accident to the police is a crucial step, regardless of the severity of the crash. Not only does this create an official record of the incident, but it also helps document the facts accurately and impartially.

Don’t Speculate!

When the police arrive, provide them with a clear and truthful account of the accident. Avoid admitting fault or speculating about what happened; stick to the facts. The police will gather information from all parties involved and from any witnesses, creating a comprehensive report.

Obtain the Police Report

Obtaining a copy of the police report is essential. This document will be a key piece of evidence when dealing with insurance companies and any legal proceedings. Make sure to review the police report for accuracy. If you notice any errors or omissions, request corrections immediately to ensure the report reflects the incident correctly.

Step 4. Exchange Information

After ensuring everyone’s safety and notifying the authorities, it is crucial to exchange essential information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. This step is critical in facilitating the insurance claims process and any potential legal actions. Make sure to gather and share the following information:

  • Names Full names of all drivers involved.
  • Contact Information — Phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.
  • Insurance Details Insurance company names, policy numbers, and contact information.
  • Vehicle Information Make, model, year, color, and license plate numbers of all vehicles involved.

Protect Your Legal Rights

  • Do not admit fault at the scene. Stick to the facts of what happened and avoid discussing the cause of the accident.
  • Remain calm and polite. Avoid discussing fault or liability at the scene. Statements about who is to blame can complicate the situation and may be used against you later. Simply exchange the necessary details and let the insurance companies and authorities handle the determination of fault.

Step 5. Inform Your Insurance Company

Notifying your insurance company promptly after a car accident is crucial for a smooth claims process. Contact your insurer as soon as possible to report the accident and provide them with all relevant information. This step helps initiate your claim and ensures you meet any time-sensitive requirements set by your policy.

Details and Accuracy

When you speak with your insurance company, provide accurate and detailed information about the accident. Include details such as:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Names and contact information of the other driver(s) and any witnesses
  • Description of the vehicles involved
  • A brief account of how the accident occurred
  • Any injuries sustained by you or others
  • Police report number and the attending officer’s name and badge number

Your insurer will likely ask for a copy of the police report and any photos or videos you took at the scene. Make sure to provide these promptly.

Understand Your Insurance Coverage

Understanding your insurance coverage and benefits is also essential. Always review your policy to ensure that you are aware of what is covered, including medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and rental car services. Ask your insurance agent to explain any aspects you don’t understand.

Step 6. Keep Detailed Records

Maintaining thorough and organized records after a car crash is essential for managing your claims and protecting your legal rights. Create a dedicated file to store all documents related to the accident, ensuring everything is easily accessible. Here’s what you should include:

  • Medical Records Keep all medical reports, treatment plans, and bills related to injuries sustained in the accident. This documentation is crucial for proving the extent of your injuries and the associated costs.
  • Repair Estimates and Receipts Collect estimates for vehicle repairs and receipts for any completed work. These documents will support your claim for vehicle damage.
  • Correspondence with Insurance Companies — Save all emails, letters, and notes from phone calls with your insurance company and the other party’s insurer. Keeping a record of these communications helps track the progress of your claim and ensures consistency.
  • Police Report — Include a copy of the official police report, as it provides an objective account of the accident.
  • Witness Statements If you obtained written statements from witnesses, keep them in your file.
  • Accident Scene Documentation — Store photos and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damages, and any visible injuries.

Record of Additional Expenses 

In addition to these documents, meticulously track all expenses and losses related to the accident:

  • Medical Bills — Include costs for hospital visits, medications, physical therapy, and other medical treatments.
  • Repair Costs — Document all expenses related to repairing your vehicle or purchasing a new one if it was totaled.
  • Lost Wages Keep records of any income lost due to the accident, including time off work for medical appointments and recovery.
  • Other Expenses — Track any additional costs incurred, such as transportation expenses, rental car fees, and any modifications needed due to injuries.

This thorough documentation helps ensure you receive the compensation you are entitled to for your injuries and losses.

Step 7. Follow Medical Advice and Treatment Plans

Adhering to medical treatment plans and follow-up appointments is essential for your recovery and supporting your personal injury claim. Follow all prescribed treatments and attend all scheduled medical appointments. Consistent medical care not only aids in your recovery but also provides clear documentation of your injuries and their impact on your daily life.

Detailed Record of Your Health

Keep detailed records of your recovery process, including any ongoing symptoms or limitations. Document any pain, mobility issues, or other health problems you experience, noting how they affect your ability to work and perform daily activities. This documentation is crucial evidence for demonstrating the severity and duration of your injuries in your claim.

Step 8. Avoid Social Media Pitfalls

In the age of social media, it is important to be cautious about what you post online after a car accident. Avoid sharing accident-related information, photos, or updates on platforms like Facebook, X, and Instagram. Even seemingly innocent posts can be misconstrued and used against you by insurance companies or in legal proceedings.

Insurance adjusters and opposing counsel often monitor social media activity to find evidence contradicting your claims. For example, a post showing you engaging in physical activities could be used to argue that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.

Step 9. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney

After a motor vehicle accident, consulting with a personal injury attorney is crucial to ensure you understand your rights and options. Seeking legal advice can significantly impact the outcome of your claim, providing you with the expertise needed to navigate the complexities of the legal and insurance processes.

The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice

  • Understanding Your Rights — A personal injury attorney will explain your legal rights and help you understand the potential compensation you may be entitled to, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Navigating Legal Complexities The legal system can be intricate and challenging to navigate without professional guidance. An attorney will help you understand the relevant laws and regulations that apply to your case.
  • Dealing with Insurance Companies — Insurance companies often aim to minimize payouts. Do NOT speak with the at-fault driver’s insurance company if they call you shortly after the crash. They will attempt to get you to settle the claim quickly for short money or obtain a statement from you that can be used against you in your case. A personal injury attorney will handle communications with the insurance companies, ensuring your interests are protected and you receive a fair settlement. 
  • Pursuing a Claim Your attorney will gather evidence, build a strong case, and represent you in negotiations or court proceedings. They will ensure all necessary documents are filed correctly and within deadlines.
  • Maximizing Compensation An experienced attorney can help you obtain the maximum compensation possible by accurately assessing the value of your claim and effectively negotiating on your behalf.

Choose Pullano & Siporin for Legal Representation After Your Car Crash

Selecting the right law firm after a motor vehicle accident is crucial for protecting your rights and securing fair compensation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Pullano & Siporin have become the trusted partners to many of our clients in Chicago and Illinois.

Our Promise to You

  • Decades of Experience With decades of experience in personal injury claims, we bring unparalleled expertise to every case.
  • Commitment to Justice Our firm is dedicated to fighting tirelessly for justice, winning cases, and always delivering on our promises.
  • Personalized Attention Our personal injury attorneys provide personalized care, understanding each client’s unique circumstances and maintaining open communication throughout the process.
  • Proven Track Record We trust that our history of victories in Chicago and our satisfied clients speak of our effectiveness and dedication.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and need expert legal representation, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule a consultation. Trust us to be your advocate for justice and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

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