Attorney David J. King


Immediate Steps To Take After An Auto Accident

The moments and days after a serious crash can be disorientating and frightening. But if you remember to take the following steps, you will have a better chance of receiving full compensation for your injuries. Here is what our attorney, David J. King, advises his clients to do after a car accident:

  • Pull your car over to a safe spot, if possible, and immediately call 911.
  • If you’re able, take pictures of your car and the damage to the other party’s car and license plate.
  • Tell the police what happened and why the accident occurred.
  • Even if you do not need to go to the emergency room, make an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible.
  • Before giving a statement to the insurance company, talk to an experienced attorney who has handled many car accident cases. There is no substitute for experience.

Below, an in-depth explanation is provided regarding the significance of each step and why it’s crucial to follow them after being in an auto accident.

Call 911

Calling the police after an auto accident is a vital step. The officer who arrives at the scene will question you and the other drivers, examine the crash site and make a police report. This report is often the most important piece of evidence in a car accident claim. Without it, you might have no objective testimony showing that the other driver was at fault.

Seek Medical Attention

It is essential to seek medical attention after an accident. One of the main issues in an auto accident case is the nature and extent of the injuries. It takes expert medical evidence, and opinion evidence, generally obtained from a doctor, to demonstrate this. You must be very clear about what happened when you see a physician, whether in the emergency room, family doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor or mental health professional. Our advice is to be very clear with each and every doctor regarding all of the symptoms you experience every time you’re in the physician’s office to make it easier to prove all the injuries you have suffered because of the accident.

Contact A Car Accident Attorney

Even though you are confident that you deserve compensation, auto insurance companies use several tricks to try to make it seem like you were at fault or pressure you into agreeing to an inadequate claim settlement. An experienced personal injury can review your case with you and tell you what you are really entitled to in damages and what your rights are. They can deal with the insurance company for you and make sure you don’t have to settle for unreasonably low compensation.

Building A Strong Case: Document Everything

In building a strong case, some of the most critical evidence from the scene of the accident include:

  • 911 call recording (we obtain and transcribe)
  • Insurance exchange of information
  • Police or highway patrol’s report
  • Physical evidence

Sometimes the visible damage to the car indicates the amount of damage that the human being(s) inside suffered, but frequently, that’s not the case. It’s not uncommon for the property damage to not look all that bad, but the injuries sustained by the occupants will be very significant.

Sometimes, people at the accident scene may not realize they’ve been hurt or the full extent of their injuries. It’s easy to overlook when you have adrenaline flowing or from the shock of the accident. It’s only in the days and weeks, perhaps months to come, that the true nature of your injuries comes to light.

At that stage, we help our clients by documenting everything along the way, in terms of medical damages, physical damages and noneconomic damages. We can hire expert witnesses if needed, such as accident reconstructionists or doctors specializing in impairment ratings and functional capacities assessments; specialists can evaluate and treat the actual injury the client has sustained. Sometimes a family doctor isn’t suited to that type of treatment. We walk them through all aspects of their injury case, beginning to end.

Determining Fault And Liability After A Car Accident

Even with accidents that are clearly the other driver’s fault, it is still wise to work with an experienced personal injury attorney with extensive experience in auto accident claims. The insurance company is still often simply not going to treat you fairly. For instance, they will claim you’re not that hurt or had preexisting injuries. They will want you to execute medical authorizations to turn your medical records over to them, and then they will try to use the medical records against you.

It’s not enough just that liability is certain. You need an attorney on your side who understands how to deal with your injuries. One who has experience in getting the right doctors’ opinions and who has experience working against the “preexisting conditions” defense and the “you’re not really injured” defense. Most of our cases are where liability is certain, and our clients have benefited from having an attorney to represent them against the insurance companies.

South Dakota Fault And Compensation Law

If you are partially at fault for the accident, it will impact your case. South Dakota has “contributory negligence,” meaning there can be negligence assigned on the part of the plaintiff. South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) § 20-9-2 states that when a plaintiff’s contributory negligence is more than “slight,” in comparison to the defendant’s negligence, it acts as a barrier to any recovery of damages. The term “slight” is defined as small compared with the defendant’s negligence. However, suppose the plaintiff’s contributory negligence is not more than slight. In that case, the plaintiff can still recover damages, but the amount recovered is reduced in proportion to the amount of their contributory negligence. South Dakota law is very complex on the issue of contributory negligence. It can trip up a good claim, which is another reason to get an experienced lawyer working on your case right away.

How Iowa Is Different

Iowa has a “comparative fault” statute. Iowa Code Chapter 668. Under Iowa’s comparative fault law, the jury determines the fault between the parties to the lawsuit. Once the relative fault of both parties is determined, the plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the amount of their attributed portion of their fault or negligence.

After A Car Wreck, Give Us A Call – Free Consultations

For more information on Steps To Take After An Auto Accident, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling 855-201-0098 or sending us an email today to schedule your free initial consultation.