The First 72 Hours After an Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car or truck accident as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, or bystander, what you do in the first 72 hours after the incident can affect everything. Your decisions in this window of time could influence how you’ll recover from your injuries and how you’ll obtain financial compensation for medical expenses, income loss, pain and suffering, and other damages.
None of this is easy if you try to do it all on your own. Accidents usually leave victims injured, confused, angry, and frightened. It is difficult to know what to do and where to turn to for help. You may be left wondering, “What do I do after an accident?”
At Adams Cross, LLC, we have sprung into action for clients injured in accidents in Olathe, Kansas, as well as Lawrence, Johnson, and Wyandotte counties, and throughout the Kansas City metro area, for more than 30 years. We know that time is an important factor in the outcome of your personal injury claim. That’s why we help you make the most of it.
Your injuries and mental state following an accident may hamper your ability to take certain steps in the aftermath of the accident. However, here are some crucial actions to take during the first 72 hours after an accident.
Get to Safety
The scene of a crash can be as dangerous or more dangerous than the impact itself. You should immediately get to a safe place (in your vehicle, if possible). Still-moving vehicles, debris, fire, fluid leaks, broken glass, and other motorists arriving at the scene present ongoing dangers. Try to get to a safe place off the roadway and remain there until help arrives.
One of the best features of 911 emergency services is that the dispatcher knows who to send to the scene. All you need to do is call and the appropriate first responders, ambulance, and law enforcement personnel will arrive. Don’t assume someone else has already called 911 or ask others at the scene. If you are physically able, dial it yourself.
Law enforcement is particularly crucial to any personal injury claim you may have. Their role is to secure the safety of the people at the scene. Additionally, law enforcement is expected to investigate the circumstances of the crash, record roadway and other conditions, interview witnesses, and submit an official crash report.
Seek Immediate Medical Treatment
One of the major mistakes accident victims make is not seeking medical treatment right away. Allow first responders and ambulance personnel to examine you at the scene. If you absolutely do not want to take the ambulance to an emergency room, go there by private vehicle, even if you don’t think you are injured or that your injuries are minor.
The adrenaline rush in the aftermath of an accident, as well as the nature of some injuries, can mask symptoms. Delaying diagnosis and treatment of injuries can hamper your ability to recover from them. In some cases, that delay can be deadly.
Moreover, to file a personal injury claim against a negligent driver’s liability insurance, you will need a medical diagnosis relating your injuries to the crash, as well as medical bills as evidence of your damages. A delay in seeking treatment gives the other driver’s insurance company an opportunity to assert you injured yourself in some way other than the accident.
Evidence of the injuries related to the crash is particularly important in a no-fault state like Kansas. The personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in your own auto insurance policy is the first means of compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other economic damages. You will need to provide proof that your PIP coverage is insufficient to fully compensate you before you can file a third-party liability claim against the at-fault driver. If you can file a third-party claim, you can recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, that are not compensable under your PIP benefits.
Gather Crucial Documentation
You will need other documentation, in addition to your medical records and bills, to support your claim.
Begin by collecting information from any other driver involved in the crash, including full names, contact information, and insurance information. You should also collect the names and contact information of any witnesses to the incident. Of course, if your injuries are too severe to gather this information, it should be in the law enforcement officer’s crash report. Request a copy of the report and review it to see if you notice any errors or omissions. Note any discrepancies between your recollection of events and statements made by the other driver or witnesses.
While the incident is fresh in your mind, write down what you recall happening immediately prior to, during, and after the crash. Your personal account of the accident may play a critical role in determining liability later.
Notify Your Insurance Company
You need to notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible so the adjuster can open a claim. Check your policy for notification requirements. Most companies require notification within at least 30 days of the crash. Otherwise, your company could deny your claim.
Because your PIP coverage will determine the initial benefits you receive, you will want a claim opened and investigated quickly so you can begin receiving benefits for your medical expenses, damage to your vehicle, lost wages, and other losses.
If you can pursue a third-party liability claim against the at-fault driver, you will want to put that person’s insurance company on notice of your intent to file a claim as well. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Kansas is only two years from the date of the crash.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
No matter how confused or disoriented you are in the 72 hours after a crash, the one thing you should remember to do is contact a personal injury attorney to represent you. Every decision made about your case is yours to make. However, your attorney can immediately step in to take care of many of these critical steps and the many more your claim will require. You can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Approachable & Assertive Legal Counsel
We know it seems that there are many steps to take after an accident in Kansas. We also know how difficult that can be, particularly in the first 72 hours after it occurs. You have been doing this for hours; we have been doing this for decades. We will be assertive throughout the claims process and in court if your claim is not fairly settled.
If you have been injured in an accident in Olathe, Kansas, or in the Kansas City metro area, call Adams Cross, LLC right now for guidance.