The unexpected happens–you are injured in a car crash.

The first seconds after a motor vehicle accident are usually chaotic and frightening. You may not be entirely conscious or aware of your surroundings. Even accidents that appear minor can involve serious injuries. You may feel fine immediately after the confusion clears, but symptoms can pop up hours or days after an accident. You should seek medical attention even after a minor accident to make certain that you are not injured.

What should you do immediately after an accident?

Try to stay calm. Your emotions may be all over the place, and you may be frantically trying to check on your passengers. Take a few deep breaths and then follow these steps.

  • Call 9-1-1. Even a minor accident warrants a call to the police, so if the crash was truly a fender bender, call the non-emergency line.
  • If you are able, check on the passengers and occupants of the other vehicle.
  • Stay at the scene. Wait for assistance to arrive.
  • Talk to witnesses, if possible, and ask for contact information.
  • Seek medical advice, even if the accident was minor. Injuries might not be apparent right away.
  • Take as many pictures as possible. Try to document the scene if possible. Get a copy of the police report as soon as possible.
  • Don’t admit fault. You don’t know all the facts, so don’t admit to doing anything wrong.
  • Be wary of early settlement offers from the insurance company. Insurance companies don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart.
  • Consider legal counsel. You don’t have to handle everything alone. Help is available.

Why is it important to seek medical advice?

It is important to seek medical advice after a motor vehicle accident. You should always have a licensed medical professional do a thorough exam, even after a mild accident. Remember, some injuries take a while to manifest, and if you don’t have proper documentation, you might have a problem with the insurance company.

You should ideally seek medical attention as soon as possible. This way your injuries can be photographed, and the doctor can record symptoms. The doctor will be able to document that your injuries were the result of the crash.

Why do I need documentation?

Millions of car accidents occur each year, costing billions of dollars in damages and medical bills. Typical accident injuries include damage to the head, back, neck and chest.

Having proper documentation during the claims process is critical. Insurance companies will be reluctant to pay for medical bills if you delay seeking treatment. Don’t try to shrug off any pain. It’s only going to end up costing you money.

If you do not get your motor vehicle accident injuries properly documented, you will have an uphill battle with the insurance companies involved. You deserve to have your medical bills, rehabilitation fees, and other expenses covered. Don’t let the insurance company make a low-ball offer. Remember, if in doubt, seek legal counsel and protect yourself.