Accidents happen. Perhaps the most frequent kind of an accident is an auto accident. If you are in an accident of any kind, there are things that you can and should do both at the scene of an accident and after, to ensure that your safety and rights are protected.
What to do after an accident:
- If you are in a vehicular accident, first ensure that everyone is safe. Pull over out of the flow of traffic if it is safe to do so. This will ensure that you will be safe while assessing the damage and injury involved in the accident.
- Do not leave the scene of an accident unless and until it is appropriate to do so. Assess injury to yourself and others at the scene. If medical attention is needed, call 911 for medical help, or if you require medical help, ask that someone at the scene make the call. Avoid moving anyone who is injured or unconscious until medical help arrives.
- Call police to the scene if there appears to be significant property damage or injury. If injury and property damage are minimal, it may be that police do not need to be called to the scene. If police are called, make note of police officers’ names and badge numbers. Exchange insurance and driver’s license information. Write down the drivers’ names, license and insurance information, the license plate numbers of all vehicles involved, and the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses at the scene, including all passengers.
- When talking to people at the scene of the accident, avoid making any statement that can be construed as an admission of guilt. Even if you are sorry that the accident occurred, telling the other driver that you are sorry now, could be construed as an admission of guilt later. If at all possible, take pictures of the location of the accident and of the property damage to your vehicle. Most mobile phones have cameras.
- Inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Explain the facts clearly and honestly. Cooperate with your insurance company. If you are at fault in the accident, they have a duty to defend you. Your cooperation may help settle the issue of fault.
- Obtain a copy of the police report and review it for accuracy. This is a document that insurance companies and courts will rely on. Make sure it is accurate and complete.
- Get the medical treatment that you need and keep track of the dates of doctor’s visits and any medical expenses incurred. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
- Get an estimate of the property damage to your vehicle. If you are unhappy with the valuation, do not hesitate to obtain a second or a third estimate. Have it repaired if possible.
- As you move closer to settle of any claim, consult with an attorney to make sure that any proposed settlement compensates you adequately. Finally, never sign settlement papers without legal advice.
If you have any questions or concerns about what to do after an accident, don’t hesitate to contact us right away.