The minutes – and days – after a car crash can be chaotic. Right after a crash, there may be many people standing around, unsure of what to do. As the hours and days pass, you may wonder whether or not you should get medical attention, stay home from work, or talk to an attorney. Even if you have been in this situation before, each collision and injury is different, so it is always important to understand certain steps you can take to protect your rights in the event you file an insurance or legal claim in the future.
At a minimum, the law requires you to stop after a car collision and exchange information with the other drivers involved. You should pull over to a safe spot if possible or, if your car is not moveable, turn on the flashers and wait at the side of the road.
Under North Dakota law, you must report a crash to the police right away if anyone was injured or killed, or if there seems to be more than $1,000 in property damage. However, it is wise to call the police after a crash regardless of this requirement. Even in a no-fault insurance state, a lawsuit is still possible after a crash, and you want to have an impartial police report regarding what happened. Also, the police may identify whether another driver was drunk or otherwise in violation of the law, which will help if you need to file a legal claim down the line.
Perhaps more importantly, calling 911 will dispatch emergency medical technicians to the scene of the crash, as well. EMTs can identify whether you have serious injuries that require immediate treatment and can advise whether you need ambulance transport to the hospital.
If you do not need immediate medical attention, you should take the time to take notes and photos at the scene of the crash. Once the scene is cleared and cars are fixed, it becomes more difficult to gather evidence of what caused the crash. Use your phone to take photos of the vehicles, the location of the collision, any traffic signs, road hazards, and anything else that seems remotely relevant. Take down the names and contact information of witnesses. As soon as you can, take notes about how you remember the crash happening. Memories of details can fade, especially after a traumatic event, so you want to record your recollections right afterward.
If you feel any type of soreness, stiffness, dizziness, disorientation, or pain, go to the emergency room right away. Never assume these sensations are “normal” after a crash, as they are usually indications that you suffered an injury. You want to have your injuries fully diagnosed as soon as possible after the crash. Not only does this help ensure you receive immediate treatment, but it also creates a record of your crash-related injuries and losses.
Because you will need to file a claim with your no-fault insurance, you may think there is no need to speak with an attorney. However, all insurance companies can be difficult – even your own. Having legal representation throughout the insurance process can help ensure that you receive the full compensation you deserve. A lawyer can also identify when it is time to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver to seek compensation above and beyond your insurance policy.
After a collision, our Fargo car crash attorneys can help guide you to the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost income, and other losses. Contact one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, Tatum O’Brien, Tim O’Keeffe, or Sara Monson, by email, or call O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss at 701-235-8000 or toll-free 877-235-8002 for a free case evaluation.