A car accident is a jarring experience. It affects your nerves, your health and your finances. After you've been in an accident there's a well established protocol of steps to take to document the situation and make sure everyone is safe. Once you've left the scene of the accident, here's why it's important to keep the process moving even if you'd rather "forget and forgive."
Working with an attorney quickly after an accident can ease the process. It's much easier to gather the facts while everything is still fresh in mind and before important evidence might be erased or become unavailable, helping your case against the offending driver and his or her insurance company.
One of the most important steps following a car accident, even if just a minor dent or scratch, is a doctor's appointment. You may feel normal after a crash, but adrenaline can mask symptoms and certain injuries will not immediately surface. A visit to the doctor will confirm your health and find any new issues, and it will create a record of your health at the time of accident, just in case something surfaces in the aftermath.
After a medical check-up, it's important to put all your evidence together while it's at the forefront of your memory and while access to local resources is more readily accessible. Memories fade with time, so take thorough notes, ensure that the police report includes on-the-scene observations and take your own notes and photographs. A Smartphone should never be used while driving, but it makes a handy camera on the scene of an accident once everyone is outside of their vehicles. Take pictures of the scene, all the damage to your vehicle and any injuries immediately, if possible.
Additional evidence may be available for a limited time, such as local security cameras that either record the road or a parking lot or traffic at a nearby business. Personal injury attorneys are experienced at working within the system to acquire extra evidence but, often, items such as traffic recordings are only kept on file for a short time. The sooner you act, the more likely to are to get this important evidence.
Statute of limitations
You can only file a lawsuit for a short time after an accident: within two years from an injury or within one year from the injury's discovery if it was slow to fully develop. The sooner you react to the situation, the sooner the legal process goes in motion.
While two years may seem like plenty of time, think back two years ago: can you name what you were doing on a given day or a minute detail that caused an event? It's essential to move fast and to carefully document when an accident happens right away. Memories fade and evidence is harder to find. An experienced personal injury attorney is familiar with finding rounded and diverse proof of what happened at the crash as well as helping you through the legal loopholes, medical needs and auto concerns after a crash. The sooner you act, the more likely you are to get ample proof of what happened.