When you elect to drive or ride in an automobile, you accept the prospect of being involved in an accident. Even if you are the safest, most defensive driver you know, you cannot predict or control the actions of others on the road, especially when cell phones and other distractions are involved. So, what do you do when you find yourself in an accident?
First, check on all drivers and passengers involved in the accident. While it may be tempting to immediately begin assessing the damage on your brand-new Honda, the priority is to get medical attention on the way as soon as possible for those who require it. If a person complains of neck or back pain, wait for a qualified medical person to arrive. Second, involve the police, especially if there is significant property damage, injury, or death. Take note of name and badge numbers of the responding officers, and make sure that they file a police report. If there is no police report filed, it will come down to a “he said, she said” case, and you cannot guarantee that the other person will be honest about what happened—especially when insurance premiums and money is involved. Third, get the information of everyone involved. For the other driver this includes name, address, number, driver’s license number, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information. If you exchange no other information, make sure you have the other party’s insurance details; this is crucial to have when deciding who will pay for the damages. Further, obtain the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any passengers. If there are any witnesses, ask for their perspective of the accident and get their information, if possible. Take photographs of any damage to the vehicles. In all this communication, be as courteous as possible without admitting any guilt for what took place. The details of the case are better analyzed apart from the scene as tensions are high and emotions strong when property damage and injury have just occurred.
Fourth, obtain legal counsel, if desired, and promptly inform your insurance company that you have been involved in an accident. Be transparent about what happened, revealing all the facts including any injuries you may have sustained. If police reports were filed, you can obtain these to provide even more information about who was at fault. Fifth, keep a detailed account of all medical treatment you receive from any doctors, chiropractors, et cetera, including any medication you receive. Requesting copies of all medical bills and paperwork will help you prove your expenses later. Even more important is to capture the pain and suffering you have experienced as a result of the crash. Document how your injuries have impacted your daily life—like missing work, routine activities, the state of your emotional well-being, and your interpersonal relationships. Some injuries have more long-term effects than anticipated, so proceed cautiously and do not hastily accept a settlement before confirming that all of your physical injuries have been treated.
Finally, do not talk to anyone about the accident besides the police, your lawyer, and your insurance company. If contacted by another insurance company, ask them to set up an interview with your attorney or insurer and inform your lawyer of this communication. As you can see, car accidents are time consuming and can be even more frustrating if you do not have the knowledge of how to best proceed. Personal injury lawyers handle these ins-and-outs of car accidents on a regular basis and can assume most all of the headache that comes with pursuing legal action. Don’t let your fear of this unknown territory intimidate you into not getting justice for what has happened to you!