In the United States alone there are over 6 million auto accidents each year with 20% of them involving fatal injuries.
If you are unfortunate to be involved in one, make sure you remember these 10 things you need to do to protect yourself and your interests:
Do not leave the scene of the accident ever. Doing so will result in a “hit and run” violation and it’s 100% illegal and you will face charges from the police.
2. PROTECT THE SCENE.
For your own safety and other drivers passing by you should set up cones/flares if you have them. Always keep your emergency lights on for both cars to alert other drivers to stay away. In the dark you should keep a flashlight on, so you can alert other drivers of your location.
3. CALL THE POLICE.
In almost every situation of an auto accident you should call the police. Even if there is no serous damage or apparent injury this can protect you from the other party making claims against you later.
4. MAKE AN ACCURATE RECORD.
Make sure you tell the police everything that happened as accurate as you can. Do not guess, if you don’t know or don’t remember let the officer know. If you are not 100% sure if you are injured in anyway tell the officer “I’m not sure”. Injuries from car accidents sometimes don’t surface until hours after the accident. Also make sure the other party in the accident is telling the office accurate information as well to protect yourself.
5. TAKE PICTURES.
The more the better. This will provide accurate detail of the damage of both vehicles and the scene. Be sure to take pictures of any visible injuries you suffered as well.
6. EXCHANGE INFORMATION.
The officer on the scene will take all the relevant information for their records as well but you should always do the same. Information you should take are:
- Name of the other driver/s
- Their address
- Phone number
- Drivers license #
- License plate #
- Their insurance information
- Witnesses name and phone number in case you need an attorney and they need to contact them.
- Police report #
7. REPORT THE ACCIDENT.
Let your insurance company know ASAP of any accidents you are involved in whether it be your fault or not. They will be able to help you every step of the way with renting a new car in case yours in undrivable, working with the other persons insurance company to make sure the claims are filed correctly. Most policies require immediate reporting so do not fail to do so.
8. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.
If you or are injured in any way you should seek medical attention immediately whether it involves having an ambulance come to the scene or you go to the hospital right after the police wrap up their report and send you on your way. Often, injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not immediately apparent. Even in accidents involving minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
9. KEEP A FILE.
Keep record of the information on the accident. This will include all the information you took earlier as well as files of the photos you took at the scene.
10. PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS.
The most important thing you can do after an accident is contact an attorney. They can protect your rights and make sure all the evidence is collected and protected. Sometimes insurance companies will want official statements from you about the accident but consulting with an attorney first can provide the legal advice necessary, so you don’t make mistakes or incriminate yourself. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available. Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney recovers compensation for your injuries.