Tim’s Ten Tips on What to Do After Getting Into a Car Accident in Chicago

by Timothy Deffet

Many clients call me after a car accident and they are at a loss as to what to do. They may have already committed some errors in handling their potential injury claims against the person that hit them. This post is a general guideline on what to do right after the accident, or what I like to call Tim’s Ten Tips, on What to Do After Getting Into a Car Accident. Tim’s Ten Tips is the first in a series of what will be recurring blog post themes. I will discuss various topics such as slip and falls, trucking accidents and workers’ compensation claims in the future of this blog. I will apply Tim’s Ten Tips to different topics.

  1. The first thing you should do after an accident is obviously check on the well-being of yourself, any passenger(s),and any children in your car. Then, if your car is driveable, try to navigate it to a safe place away from traffic.
  2. Check on the well-being of other people in any vehicle involved in the accident. Call 911 if needed so police and ambulance personnel can show up and treat people where needed or get them or you to a hospital.
  3. Exchange insurance and contact information at the scene, as well as obtain witness names and contact information, after ensuring you, and the other people at the scene, are safe and do not need immediate medical attention. If you were working you may have a workers’ compensation claim, as well as a claim against the driver of the vehicle that hit you. If they were working you may also have a claim against their company.
  4. Do not apologize, assign, or take, blame right away after the accident. You may be in a state of shock and not know exactly what is going on. This could be used against you later by the insurance company. Also, avoid heated arguments. Make sure everyone is safe and when the police arrive give your version of what happened to them. Do note what the other person says to you or others at the scene as this may be admissible evidence later if your bring a claim.
  5. Take pictures of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved. Everyone has a cell phone these days. Take pics of all parts of your car, but mainly focusing on the point of impact. Also take pictures of the other person’s vehicle, including the license plate. Further, take pictures of the intersection, stop sign or traffic light area where the accident occurred, from all points of view. When you get home email and/or download all the pictures to your computer and note the date and time that you took them. These will be invaluable later. Don’t just leave them on your phone, as phones get lost or broken and the pictures are then gone forever. A picture tells a thousand words. Remember to also take good notes of what happened just before and during the accident.
  6. Go see a doctor. If you feel any aches and pains after the accident, go make an appointment with your primary doctor or an orthopedic. Better safe than sorry. Hopefully you are fine. But if you try to gut it out and wait a month when you are hurting, this puts more of a gap of time in between your accident and your official diagnosis. The first thing an insurance company will try to argue if you are hurt after an accident is why did you wait so long to see a doctor? They will also try to link up any other activities, such as housework, bowling, doing laundry, taking care of your kid at home, to your injury, when you know that the real problem was from the accident.
  7. DO NOT GIVE A STATEMENT TO THE DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE COMPANY. Keep all their correspondence and contact information but don’t speak to them. Whatever you give them now will be used against you.
  8. DO NOT SIGN ANY RELEASES GIVEN TO YOU BY THE DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE COMPANY. Again, whatever you give them now will be used against you. They will order medical and employment records from the time you were born and will invade your privacy.
  9. DO speak with your insurance company and tell them everything about the accident. If your car is damaged, give them copies of the photos and, if you have property damage coverage for yourself, ask them to pay for your car repairs.
  10. Get better! Almost no one escapes the roads without being in an accident at some point in their lives these days. Stay calm, take care of yourself and treat with a doctor if you feel the need. If you are not getting better fast, consult an attorney like myself who can help you navigate through the process with the defendant and/or your insurance company while you get back to your old self. Any good attorney will give a free consultation.
  11. BONUS-LINKS TO ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE. If you want even more information look at the article Total Loss Auto Claims with Your Insurance Company and Filing an Auto Claim With Another’s Insurance Company. These are both from the Illinois Department of Insurance website. Although I don’t agree with all the information they have, some of it may be useful.
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