Following a car accident in Kansas or Missouri, your first priority should always be health and safety.
It’s important to check yourself, your passengers, and other parties for injuries right away, and call for medical assistance when necessary. Move your vehicle off the road if possible, then switch on your hazard lights and place a reflective emergency triangle 100-500ft behind you in the road. This will alert other drivers and prevent further collisions or injuries.
But once you’re out of immediate danger, you need to consider the legal consequences of the collision. You might be entitled to claim compensation for injuries or damages, or you might need to defend yourself against accusations from another party. To help you take the best legal steps possible, here’s what to do after a car accident (even one that is not your fault).
What to do after a car accident
1) Contact the police if necessary
Not all car accidents require police intervention. For cases in which vehicle damage is minor and nobody has been harmed, you can move right along to exchanging information.
However, you must contact the police if:
- Someone is injured
- Property is damaged
- Certain animals, such as farm animals or dogs, are killed or injured
- Street signs, bollards, or other road infrastructure is damaged
- Your vehicle is blocking the road
Remember that failing to stop after a collision or leaving the scene before you’ve exchanged information could result in a hit-and-run charge. Depending on the severity of the incident, you could face fines, imprisonment, or license revocation.
2) Exchange information
When a car accident involves more than one vehicle, it’s a legal requirement to exchange details with the other parties involved. This should include:
- Your name, address, and contact details
- Your insurance details
- Your registration details
- The name of the vehicle owner or registered keeper if you were driving someone else’s car
If you hit a stationary, unattended vehicle, you should leave a written copy of your details on its windshield.
3) Record the details of the accident
The shock of a car accident can affect your ability to remember and recreate the incident. This can lead to problems in claims and legal cases, so record as many accurate details as possible immediately after the incident. These should include:
- The time and date of the accident
- The make, model, color, and registration plate of any car involved
- The driving conditions, including weather, lighting, and road quality
- The damage done to each vehicle
- Your account of what happened
- Contact details from witnesses
- The name, badge number, and contact information of the police officers who attend the scene
As well as written or recorded notes, take plenty of photos and videos using your cell phone. Visual evidence allows your insurance company to build a complete picture of the incident, as well as the conditions under which it occurred. This helps you to prove liability and may form a crucial part of any personal injury claims you make.
3) Call your attorney
Although they provide a valuable service, insurance companies are in the business of saving money. Often, the best interests of their clients come second to cutting costs.
By contacting a car accident lawyer before submitting an accident report, you can build a much stronger case for your claim. That means you’re likely to receive a higher settlement and be able to afford better medical care. Your attorney will also deal with the other parties’ insurance companies on your behalf, saving you a great deal of time and stress.
4) Report to your insurance company
Once you’ve spoken to your car accident lawyer, it’s time to file a report with your insurance company. You need to do this as soon as possible, even if you weren’t at fault or don’t plan to claim. If the other driver wants to make a claim, it’s better for your insurance company to hear your account of the incident before they hear a different version elsewhere.
Using the information you recorded at the scene, give your insurance company a clear account of events. Include as many concrete details as possible, and upload all the photos and videos you took.
5) Maintain records
If you decide to make a claim following the accident, you’ll need plenty of evidence to prove your injuries or damages. Remember that injuries can take several days or weeks to present, and most states allow you several years to file a claim. So even if you feel fine in the aftermath, keep a close eye on your health moving forward.
If you require medical visits or treatments following the accident, be sure to keep records of:
- Medical bills
In a case where your injuries prevent you from returning to work, you should also keep an account of any days you missed and the lost wages associated with your absence. Similarly, take note of how the accident has affected your personal life. Inability to participate in certain activities or your injuries that impact your relationships with friends and family can help you make a stronger claim.
For property damage to your vehicle, try to arrange three or four repair estimates to get a good idea of the necessary repairs and their related costs. Most insurance adjusters want to conduct an independent inspection, but this evidence helps ensure you receive proper compensation.
At-fault vs. no-fault insurance in Kansas and Missouri
Depending on where you live in the US, your injury claim could be made under one of two auto insurance rules:
- At-fault: The injured party files a compensation claim against the responsible party, whose insurance provider conducts the payout.
- No-fault: No party needs to be held responsible to make a claim. Each party files a compensation claim with their own insurance provider.
Missouri, for example, is an at-fault state, meaning you’ll need to prove that the other driver was responsible for the accident in order to make a claim. So when it comes to gathering evidence, it’s doubly important to know what to do after a car accident that is not your fault.
Kansas, on the other hand, is a no-fault state. As such, the evidence you submit will mainly be used to determine a payout under personal injury protection insurance.
Be mindful when discussing your accident
What you say following a car accident can have a big impact on your claim. If you apologize to the other driver, even if you’re not responsible, that fact could be used as evidence against you. Making accusations of your own can also complicate the process, so it’s best to remain calm and avoid roadside discussions about responsibility. In general, it’s best to discuss the case only with your car accident lawyer, your insurance company, and the police.
Contact Phalen Law for a suitable payout with none of the stress
Without knowledge of automobile accidents and personal injury law, it’s tough to know what kinds of compensation you’re entitled to. You might be convinced to accept a low payout, or the insurance company might deny your claim outright.
But by hiring a car accident lawyer from Phalen Law, you can make a powerful claim that properly compensates you for the injuries and damages you sustain. As specialists in automobile accidents and personal injury claims, we have over 50 years’ of experience in winning cases like yours across both Kansas and Missouri. With our team of expert trial lawyers at your side, you can relax and recover knowing that your case is in confident, capable hands.
Call us today or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form to ensure you receive proper financial support after a car accident.