What to Expect After a Car Accident

September 28, 2023 | Steve Fields
What to Expect After a Car Accident
What to Expect After a Car Accident

A rush of adrenaline, shock, and confusion can cloud one's judgment in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. However, the decisions and actions taken in these pivotal moments can have profound implications on both your physical well-being and the trajectory of any potential legal claims.

From ensuring safety at the scene to documenting essential details, understanding the crucial steps to follow can make a significant difference in the recovery process, both medically and financially.

When faced with the prospect of filing a claim with your insurance company, reporting the accident, and seeking medical attention, the road ahead may seem uncertain.

Before all else, we recommend you consult a Minnetonka car accident attorney for trusted guidance.

Meanwhile, here is a brief overview of what you might prepare for regarding your accident, your personal injury claim, and the compensation you can expect to receive when you put your case in the hands of an attorney.

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The Immediate Aftermath of a Car Accident

What to Expect After Car Accident

Emotions can run high in the unsettling moments following a car accident, and disorientation can set in. It's essential to have a clear plan of action, prioritizing safety and gathering pertinent information to ensure the best outcomes for all involved.

Check for Injuries and Move to Safety

Before assessing the scene, evaluate your physical state. Check for any visible injuries, pain, or discomfort. If you have passengers, ensure their safety and well-being. In case of visible injuries, don’t move them unless they’re in immediate danger.

If possible and safe to do so, move vehicles to the side of the road to prevent further accidents and ensure the safety of all involved. Activate your hazard lights, especially if the vehicles are immobile, to warn other drivers of the obstruction. 

Report the Accident

Even in seemingly minor accidents, it's advisable to call 911. In fact, Minnesota requires the reporting of accidents resulting in bodily injury. A formal report can help with insurance and potential legal proceedings. Additionally, you’ll want to seek medical treatment right away for injuries. 

Seek Immediate Medical Treatment

Remember that adrenaline can mask pain, making certain injuries go unnoticed immediately after the accident. However, when left untreated, you may face grave danger from such silent injuries. Internal bleeding and soft tissue injuries can not only cause disastrous complications but could jeopardize your ability to collect compensation if a healthcare professional doesn’t address them.  

Gathering Information From the Scene

It cannot be overstated that your safety is of utmost importance. Therefore, you need only concern yourself with gathering information and evidence of the accident if you’re certain it’s safe to do so.

However, if your condition allows you to, you may benefit from obtaining names, addresses, and contact numbers from all drivers, passengers, and even witnesses. Information from the accident scene is often lost quickly, and you may not so easily track down personal information from witnesses later on. 

Photographic and Video Evidence

If possible, take this opportunity to take clear photos of vehicle damages, license plates, traffic signals, road conditions, and any visible injuries. Wide-angle shots of the entire scene can also provide context.

Avoid Statements That Could be Used Against You

You should refrain from making any speculations about the cause of the accident or admitting blame, even if you believe you were at fault. When speaking to witnesses, other drivers, or the police, engage in a factual exchange of information without diving into personal interpretations of the event.

Reporting the Accident

Accurate and timely reporting of your accident plays a pivotal role in expediting insurance claims and helps preserve your right to legal recourse. Reach out to your insurance provider as soon as possible and offer a factual account based on the information collected at the scene. Avoid speculations or statements of blame.

Auto insurance policies are difficult to understand, but your car accident attorney can explain your coverage details, such as deductibles, coverage limits, and potential rental car benefits. 

Speaking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company

The other party's insurance provider may reach out. If this happens, seek a knowledgeable car accident lawyer to explain your rights and requirements.

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

The legal considerations can feel daunting post-accident, especially while recovering from your physical injuries and determining how you’ll pay for your medical bills. A car accident attorney trained to handle cases like yours will explain your options for legal recourse and help you make informed decisions. 

Understanding Minnesota’s No-Fault System

As a no-fault state, Minnesota requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This coverage pays for one's injuries regardless of fault.

However, this no-fault rule has limitations, and in some instances involving severe injuries or surpassing a certain threshold, one can sue the at-fault driver. If injuries are severe or costs exceed PIP limits, victims may pursue further damages from the at-fault party, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering.

Additionally, Minnesota operates under a comparative negligence system, meaning that if you're partially at fault for the accident, any compensation you might receive can be reduced by the percentage of your fault. Your lawyer can determine whether your damages exceed Minnesota’s threshold for filing a personal injury lawsuit and ensure that you do not receive more than your fair share of fault, allowing you to collect maximum compensation for your injuries. 

Minnesota’s Statute of Limitations

In Minnesota, you generally have six years from the accident to initiate a personal injury lawsuit and for property damage claims. However, exceptions apply to this time limit. If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, for example, you may have up to three years to pursue a wrongful death action. In any case, It’s essential to consult with legal experts to ensure timely action. 

Your Attorney’s Role

Engaging with the legal aspects of a car accident requires a detailed understanding of both state-specific regulations and broader legal principles. A seasoned attorney can navigate the intricacies of Minnesota's laws, uphold your rights, advocate for fair compensation, and negotiate with insurance companies. 

Additionally, your lawyer can thoroughly investigate your accident, uncovering evidence that could prove invaluable to the strength of your claim. A competent law firm has the resources to do so, employing expert witnesses and medical professionals when necessary. 

Insurance adjusters aim to minimize payouts and minimize your recovery. Given the high stakes involved, seek assistance. For Minnetonka residents, partnering with a local legal professional can ensure the post-accident journey leads to just and fair resolutions and compensation that truly reflects the value of your losses. 

Long-Term Considerations After a Car Accident

An accident's implications often extend far beyond the immediate aftermath, with victims sometimes facing prolonged physical, emotional, and financial challenges.

Beyond immediate medical expenses, victims may face lost income due to missed workdays and prolonged recovery periods. A car accident attorney who understands the potential long-term impact of your accident can document and seek compensation for these tangible economic losses both now and in the future. 

Dealing with Chronic Conditions and Continued Recovery

Some injuries necessitate prolonged physical therapy or rehabilitation sessions to regain mobility and strength or to adapt to new physical realities.

Unfortunately, many car accident injuries lead to chronic conditions requiring ongoing treatment, medication, or even surgeries down the line. Estimating and compensating for these anticipated future medical expenses can give you peace of mind that you have the resources to confront what lies ahead. 

The Emotional and Psychological Impact of a Car Accident

An accident can inflict not only physical wounds but also emotional scars. Mental health treatments, therapy, and counseling might be needed. Additionally, you may find it necessary to make lifestyle changes or grapple with the reality that your long-term injuries have limited your ability to enjoy what you once did.

While no amount of money can undo the emotional toll of a car crash, victims may recover compensation for pain, suffering, and diminished enjoyment of life. 

Call Fields Injury Law Today for Help Navigating Your Car Accident

Each step is pivotal in ensuring rightful compensation and a smoother recovery journey, from your visit to the emergency room or doctor's office to your initial free consultation with an attorney.

If a car accident injured you or a loved one, don't navigate this complex terrain alone. Reach out to our Minnetonka personal injury lawyers today for your no-obligation case review with our team and discover how we can help you take the next steps toward resolution.

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Steve Fields

Founder | CEO | Principal | Attorney

Steve Fields founded Fields Law in 2001 and quickly established a reputation with his Personal Injury clients for being a lawyer who truly cares. After more than 20 years, those clients continue to refer their friends and family whenever they have been injured or become disabled.

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