Being involved in an accident of any magnitude is likely a sudden and traumatic experience. For this reason, many people panic and do not know what to do after a car accident occurs. Though you want to act quickly and ensure that all drivers and passengers involved are safe, you also need to abide by all the legal requirements. Here is a simple list of what to do following an accident.
1. Stay At The Scene Of The Accident And Try To Remain Calm.
Adrenaline and emotions can run extremely high following an accident. Nevertheless, try to stay composed and calm. In addition, NEVER leave the scene of an accident before law enforcement officials tell you that it is okay to do so. Fleeing the scene, particularly if someone was injured or killed in the collision, may lead to criminal charges against you.
2. Call Law Enforcement Officials.
If your accident caused property damage to any vehicles or surrounding physical property, injury or death to drivers, passengers or bystanders, or there is a disagreement to who was at fault for the accident, you must call the police. You should make sure that law enforcement completes a police report, and if possible obtain the names and badge numbers of the officers who respond to the scene of the accident.
3. Exchange Critical Information From Drivers And Passengers.
Try to get the names, addresses, telephone numbers, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance information from all drivers who were involved in the collison. If there are passengers in any of the vehicles, also try to obtain their names, phone numbers and addresses.
While it is important to keep your col and be as pleasant as possible when exchanging information with other drivers and passengers – NEVER apologize for the collision or assume responsibility for the accident in any way. These types of statements could be used against you later and might lead to your being liable for the accident, even if you were not at fault.
4. Try To Talk With Witnesses At The Scene
If possible, try to speak with a witness and record what they saw and/or heard at the time of the accident. You want to also write down the witnesses’ names, address and telephone numbers. This evidence may become crucial if your accident results in a personal injury lawsuit or dispute with a car insurance company.
5. Try To Take Pictures Of The Accident
Luckily, the majority of cellular telephones these days come with digital cameras. If possible, try to snap a few photographs of the damage to your vehicle, any injuries sustained by you and/or your passengers and any other property damage caused by the accident. These pictures may be critical pieces of evidence in court and can also help your insurance claims adjuster determine the amount of damage(s) to your vehicle.
6. Inform Your Insurance Company
As soon as possible after your accident you should inform your insurance company of what happened. Be truthful with all insurance agents that you speak with and be as detailed as possible about what occurred. If a police report was filed, make sure to get copies and give them to the insurance company.
7. Document Your Medical Treatment
Keeping tabs on your medical treatment can be the difference between being fully compensated for your damages or not. Make sure to maintain specific records of any doctors or medical professionals that you visit and receive treatment from. You should also keep records of any medications that you are prescribed.
Through it is often relatively easy to prove the costs of medical expenses if you keep good records, calculating your pain and suffering is not. To help quantify your damages for pain and suffering, keep a log or journal of how the injuries you suffered impacted your daily life. Try to keep detailed and accurate records including workdays you had to miss, day-to-day activities you could not perform or participate in, and the impact your injuries may have had on your family life.
8. Be Cautious Of Insurance Company Settlement Offers
You should also be cautious or skeptical of settlement offers made by car insurance companies, particularly when they come early. The full extent of your injuries may not even be experienced or discovered until weeks or even months following your accident. Therefore, you never want to accept a settlement amount before you know that all your injuries, pain and suffering will be compensated. And NEVER sign any settlement documents without first consulting your attorney.
9. Hire An Attorney
You should always hire a knowledgeable attorney to handle your claim. The qualified car accident lawyers at the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal offer free consultations to injured people and their families. Our attorneys will evaluate your case, and let you know what your legal options are – whether that means a negotiated settlement or lawsuit. Contact us today at (303) 825-2223.