Would you know what to do if you were involved in an auto accident? How you handle an accident in the minutes and days following the collision can have a significant impact on its long-term repercussion. Below is a list of things that should be done, if at all possible, when any automobile accident occurs.
- Stay at the scene. You should never leave the scene of an accident. If you do leave the scene, especially if someone has sustained injuries or damages, you could be charged with a serious crime.
- Check on all drivers and passengers. Before looking at any property damage, check to make sure everyone is okay, and call for medical attention if needed.
- Call the police. Make sure a police report is filed, especially if there are damages or injuries, and keep all documentation of any citation the officer issues.
- Exchange information with other driver. Get other drivers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information. Be cordial, BUT NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR ANYTHING. If you do, this can later be used as evidence that you were at fault for the accident.
- Talk to any witnesses. Ask any witnesses what they saw, and get their names, addresses, and phone numbers so that they can be reached later if necessary.
- Call your insurance agent. As soon as possible, call your insurance agent and let him/her know that you have been involved in an accident. Be truthful with them about the accident, because dishonesty could lead the insurance company to deny coverage.
- Take pictures. Be sure to photograph any damage to all vehicles involved, as well as any other relevant images (e.g., ice or debris in the road that contributed to the accident).
- Use caution in discussing the accident with anyone other than your attorney or insurance company. This applies even to family and friends, because what you say may later be used as evidence against you.
- If you are injured, contact a personal injury attorney Be sure to examine attorneys’ qualifications and hire a lawyer who is experienced specifically with personal injuries that resulted from auto accidents.
- Keep track of your medical bills. Documentation is crucial, so beyond medical bills, also maintain a written diary of not only your injuries, but any emotional distress you may be suffering. In addition, keep a calendar of days missed from work, and maintain a list of anything you are unable to do that you would normally do.
- Be wary of the other parties’ insurance companies. Don’t settle a claim or accept an offer from the other side’s insurance company without knowing for sure that you have a doctor’s prognosis. Otherwise, you have no way to knowing the extent of your injuries and the resources needed to rectify the consequences of your injury.
After 34 years of experience in handling auto accidents, I have first-hand knowledge that following these guidelines, as well as hiring an experienced, competent lawyer, will help to ensure that your accident is justly and properly handled, and if necessary, will aid you in receiving the maximum compensation possible.