So, you were Involved in a Car Accident. Now What?
An automobile accident can be a scary and stressful experience. Especially, if this is your first collision, you might not know what to do following the accident. Familiarizing yourself with what actions you should take after an auto accident can help ensure the safety of everyone involved, as well as protect your personal interests moving forward. In car accidents involving injuries and property damage, taking the right steps can ensure that you receive the appropriate compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle.
1. Seek Medical Attention. Each year millions of people are injured or become disabled in car accidents. After a collision, it is likely your adrenalin will be pumping and may dull or decrease your sensation to pain. It is important remain calm and check yourself, as well as passengers in your vehicle, for injuries. If you believe someone has suffered a serious injury call 911 immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry.
2. Ensure Safety. As soon as possible after an accident try to ensure that you and your vehicles are in a safe place so that your accident doesn’t lead to a second accident. Turn on your hazard lights to warn approaching vehicles that you are stopped. Emergency road flares should be placed sufficiently far away from your vehicle to warn oncoming traffic of the wreck in time for them to stop. If you can do so safely, move the vehicles off the roadway.
3. Call the Police. Call the police and wait for help to arrive. When speaking with police do not admit fault. Explain to the responding officer how the accident happened as clearly as possible. The police will document their findings at the scene and create an accident report.
An accident may result in a civil lawsuit, summary offense and sometimes criminal charges. Police officers will often testify in court as to their findings at the accident scene. Therefore, it is important to make sure the officer is told and understands your version of how the accident happened. Make sure to record the responding officers name, badge number and request a copy of the police report.
4. Exchange Insurance Information. If you are involved in an accident exchange insurance information with the other driver. Write down his or her information clearly – or take a photograph of his or her identification and insurance card. When speaking with the other driver, do not admit fault for the accident. Admissions of fault may be used against you (and may be incorrect). You should inquire whether the other driver or their passengers are injured and if so, whether they need you to call for medical help.
5. Collect Information. You should collect and record information at the scene of the accident for you personal records. Some helpful information to collect includes:
- The make, model and color of all other vehicles involved
- The license plate of all other vehicles involved
- The other drivers insurance information
- Eyewitnesses contact information including full name, address and telephone number
- The exact location of the accident
- The direction vehicles were traveling
- Property damage caused to each vehicle, including location on the vehicle and whether this is claimed to be “new damage” caused by the accident
6. Take Photographs. If you have a camera or a camera phone take photographs to document the accident scene. Make sure to do so safely. Do not put yourself in danger by standing in the roadway where you may be struck by passing vehicles.
If possible, take photographs of where the vehicles came to rest before moving the vehicles. You should also take photographs of property damage caused to the vehicles, the accident scene and any debris or skid marks on the road which you believe were caused during the collision. These photographs may be used later as evidence to prove liability and damages in court.
7. Call a Car Accident Lawyer. It is always wise to speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can offer advice to help protect your personal interests and legal rights.
Your automobile insurance policy will likely require that you to report all accidents to your insurer. You must comply with the notice provisions of your insurance policy or you risk insurer denying coverage for the accident. However, you should never give a recorded statement or negotiate with any insurance company before speaking with an attorney.
Insurance companies are notorious for making low-ball settlement offers to people who were injured in automobile accidents. Auto insurers often attempt to settle a claim for a small portion of what its worth, many times, before the full extent of your injuries or other losses can be determined. Before you sign anything you should consult with a personal injury lawyer who can advise you as to the value of your claim.
To speak with a car accident injury lawyer at the Wieand Law Firm call 1(800) 418-5206. We offer a free legal consultation. In addition, you will never owe costs or attorneys fees unless we recover money for you through a settlement or award.