Closeup of a wrecked car.

There are millions of traffic accidents every year in the U.S. Because these accidents happen so frequently, it’s very likely that you will be involved in one at some point in your life. In fact, researchers estimate that the average person will be involved in three to four collisions in their lifetime. That’s why it’s so important to understand exactly what you should do in the hours, days, and weeks following a crash that was not your fault.

Should you call 9-1-1? When should you seek medical attention? Will you need help from a Tampa personal injury attorney in order to recover compensation for your injuries? Keep reading to find out what steps you should take after a car accident in St. Pete.

Call the Police

The first thing you should do after a car accident is call 9-1-1. Tell the dispatcher where the accident occurred and let them know if you or another party at the scene has suffered serious injuries. This way, the dispatcher will know whether or not emergency medical services are needed.

Calling 9-1-1 is important for several reasons. First, it ensures that anyone who is seriously injured receives immediate medical attention at the scene of the accident. It also ensures that there will be a police report that documents the details of the accident. This police report can be used as evidence in your personal injury claim.

Get Information From the Other Parties

Ask the other parties that were involved in the accident for their information before leaving the scene.

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You will need the following information:

  • Names of drivers and passengers
  • Phone number and/or addressDriver’s license
  • Insurance information
  • License plate
  • Description of the vehicle, including property damage caused by the accident

Do not discuss the details of the accident with the other parties involved. You should only ask them for this information—steer clear of talking about how you feel, what happened, or what could have caused the accident. The statements you make at this point could be used against you later on.

Ask Witnesses For Contact Information

Look around the accident scene to determine if there were any bystanders or other drivers who witnessed the crash. If so, see if they are willing to provide you with their contact information. You don’t need to discuss the accident right now, but your attorney may need to reach out to them to find out what they saw. Ask them if they would mind talking about the accident at a later date. Keep their contact information in a safe place so you can pass it along to your attorney.

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Witness statements are valuable pieces of evidence in car accident claims. For example, a witness may testify that they saw the other driver swerving in and out of lanes at a high speed right before the crash. This statement would show that the other driver was acting negligently prior to the accident, which would strengthen your personal injury case. 

Photograph Evidence At the Scene

If you are not seriously injured, try to take photos at the scene of the accident.

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Make an effort to photograph:

  • Your visible injuries
  • The vehicles involved in the accident, including the way they are positioned and the damage caused in the crash
  • Tire skid marks, debris, and any other physical evidence that may be relevant to your accident claim
  • Intersections located nearby
  • Traffic signs or signals located nearby
  • Road problems that could have contributed to the accident, such as potholes or construction zones

Take as many photos as possible. Photograph these elements of the accident from different angles and distances so you can capture a great deal of detail. These pictures may seem insignificant now, but they could help your attorney prove liability and win your personal injury case.

Seek Medical Treatment

If you’ve been injured in the crash, it’s imperative that you seek medical attention right away. If you are seriously injured, ask the dispatcher to send emergency medical services when you call 9-1-1. Then, stay put until help arrives.

If you are not in need of emergency medical services, you should still seek medical attention as soon as you leave the scene of the accident. This is true even if you don’t believe you are seriously injured. Your body goes into fight-or-flight mode when you are in an accident, which means it releases adrenaline into your system. This hormone can mask pain, so some car accident injuries may not appear until hours or days after the crash. To play it safe, it’s best to seek medical attention right away instead of waiting for symptoms to appear.

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Seeking medical attention immediately after an accident also ensures that your injuries have been documented by a physician. These medical records will be used as evidence in your car accident claim. The records will show that you received medical attention shortly after the date and time of the crash, so the insurance company won’t be able to argue that there’s no way of knowing whether or not your injuries were sustained in the crash.

Contact An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Now, it’s time to seek legal representation from an experienced personal injury attorney. It’s important to talk to an attorney about your case before you speak to any insurance company about the accident. Ideally, you should let your attorney communicate directly with the insurance company on your behalf. This way, you can focus your time and energy on recovering from your injuries while your attorney fights for the compensation you deserve.

If you’re in need of a personal injury attorney, turn to the team at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett. Our team has over 125 years of combined experience representing the injured. With our help, car accident victims can obtain every dollar of compensation they are entitled to by law.

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