When a motor vehicle accident occurs it is easy to become disoriented, shaken, and confused. However, in the aftermath of an accident it is important to obtain crucial information. A helpful way to remind yourself what to do after a car accident is to keep a checklist of phone numbers to call and questions to ask along with your insurance information in your glove compartment or center console.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Ensure Safety: If anyone is injured, immediately call the police for help and tell them you need medical assistance. If anyone involved seems to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, tell that to the police when you call for help. Always call the police whether or not there are injuries, as many insurance companies will not cover an accident unless there is a police accident report. Once everyone is safe, you can get the other information you will need
- Ask Questions: Your insurance company will need full names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and any witnesses.
- Try to find out if anyone is injured or says he or she is injured; or if anyone says "I am fine".
- Make as many notes as you can about the accident itself. What was the weather and lighting like at the time of the accident? Were any of the involved vehicles damaged? Was any of the damage obviously present prior to the accident, such as non-functioning tail lights or brake lights? Were any of the vehicles company-owned?
- Get information about the other vehicles involved, such as license plate numbers, make, and model.
- Be sure to find out the insurance status of all vehicles and persons involved. If any drivers were not the registered owners, get the registered owner's name, address, and phone number(s).
- Did anyone take blame for the accident?
- Get the names and badge numbers of any police officers who respond to the scene.
- Protect Evidence: If you can get a camera, it is wise to take as many photos as possible of the accident site, the vehicles and people involved, and anything else that might have bearing on how and why the accident occurred. Pictures taken as soon as possible will be the most valuable. If you do not have a camera, you might be able to buy a disposable one at a nearby convenience store, or ask a passenger or bystander to purchase one for you. Don't forget to take pictures of the damage done to all vehicles, license plates, evidence such as street signs or lights, skid marks, etc. If you have an attorney you plan to call, tell him or her you don't have a camera. He or she may be able to send someone from his or her office to take the needed photographs. Be sure to also tell your attorney about any other evidence you think might be important, such as faulty street lights or signage, malfunctioning equipment (seat belts, turn signals, etc.), weather conditions, etc.
- Consider Insurance: Contact your own insurance company as quickly as possible. If you feel, for any reason, that your company may not be willing to cover the accident, you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney beforehand. However, do not delay in contacting your insurance carrier. Most insurance companies have policy requirements as to how quickly after an accident you must contact them, and failure to do so might mean your claim will be rejected. On the other hand, you should not make any statements or answer any questions from the other driver's insurance company until you have consulted an attorney. Be polite, but decline to discuss any aspects of the accident until you have obtained legal advice.
- Get Medical Help: If you have been seriously injured, you probably will be taken directly to a hospital emergency room. If you are not seriously injured, however, do not assume that you are uninjured. Many injuries from vehicle crashes, like whiplash, do not show up right away. If you do begin to suffer ill effects from the crash, notify your health professional immediately, get yourself checked out, and follow the doctor's instructions as to care and follow-up.
- Failure to get medical care might have serious consequences if you have latent injuries that only show up 24-36 hours later. Do not neglect symptoms that are unfamiliar, or pain that appears hours later. Report any symptoms to your doctor, however slight. Serious back injuries can start out as nothing more than a simple ache, but left untreated they can cause major health difficulties. Furthermore, if you do have problems, your insurance company will need proof that the problems were diagnosed and treated promptly, and that the problems were related to the accident.
- Get Legal Help: You may wish to contact an experienced car accident lawyer immediately. He or she may wish to examine the evidence at the site and gather as much information as possible.
Car Accident Lawyers
If you think you or a loved one might have been harmed as a result of a vehicular accident, it is important to reach out to a legal professional to learn about your options. The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP can provide the experienced legal help you need. The firm can be reached at 1-800-624-8888 or you can fill out a free online case evaluation form. The initial consultation is always FREE. If the case is pursued there is no legal fee unless we are successful in getting you money.
Timing is important, because statutes of limitation affect how long you have to file a claim.