Even the best driver cannot avoid every accident. Sometimes things happen so fast we do not have time to react. Regardless of the severity of a crash, it is always important to take swift action—both to protect yourself and to ensure that you are not left paying the bills for an accident someone else caused.
If you were recently involved in an accident or are simply trying to prepare for the unexpected, read on to see what steps you should take after a Missouri car crash.
The Missouri Car Crash Checklist
Here are the most important steps to take after getting into an accident:
- Ensure your own safety. Immediately after an accident, evaluate your injuries. If there are any passengers in your car, check them too. Do not panic, and immediately call emergency services if you believe there is any cause for concern.
- Collect evidence. If you are not facing a dire medical emergency, then you may wish to begin collecting evidence on your own. Take pictures of any injuries you have sustained, as well as damages to all the vehicles and objects involved. Do not be afraid to take photographs from multiple angles. Make sure to take down the contact information of any bystander-witnesses as well—their testimony may be needed if you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Write down what happened. Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but your own writing is just as valuable. Creating a written account, penned shortly after the accident, ensures that your recollection stays fresh. You should include all information relevant to the crash, such as the date and time of the collision, the address where it occurred, the direction you and other involved motorists were traveling, weather conditions, and any potential road obstructions or impediments.
- Preserve evidence. Do not have any repairs made to the car and take pictures of your injuries before and after receiving treatment. Physical evidence can serve both to bolster your case and show the severity of your accident.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Going to the hospital or an emergency clinic is a necessity, even if you do not believe that you have been injured. Oftentimes, the shock of a collision—and the ensuing adrenaline rush—can mask aches, pains, and wounds. A physician may be able to identify injuries that that are not immediately visible. Going to the doctor also shows that you are concerned about your health. If you wait too long to schedule an appointment, the other driver’s insurance company could claim that you are trying to fabricate a complaint.
- Contact your insurance company. If you have automobile insurance, you should let your carrier know that you were involved in a wreck.
- Report the accident. Missouri law requires that any crash resulting in injury or property damages of more than $500 be reported to the local police department or sheriff’s office. Motorists are expected to notify law enforcement as soon as reasonably possible. In general, Missouri expects accident reports to be submitted within five days of a collision.
- Do not give any statements to the other motorist’s insurance company. If the other driver reports the accident quickly, their insurer may send an agent to take your statement even when you are still in the hospital. You are under no legal obligation to provide a statement—and never should. They may try to use your words against you, either to make it seem as if you were at fault or to offer a lower settlement amount.
The last but most important step is to contact your personal injury attorney. In many cases, you may not even need to file a lawsuit—your lawyer may be able to negotiate a higher settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company than they would ordinarily offer. If that does not work, then your attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the costs of your medical bills, property damages, pain and suffering, and more.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident in Missouri?
If you've been injured in a car accident, you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Cape Girardeau office directly at 573.335.3359 to schedule your initial consultation.