10 Things You Need to Do After A Car, Truck or Motorcycle Accident
If you are involved in an accident, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself. The following is a list of the top ten things you should do if you are in an automobile accident:
- STOP. Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one.
- PROTECT YOURSELF AT THE SCENE. Keep your flashers on while you wait for the police to arrive. The vehicles involved in the accident should remain where they are, unless they interfere with traffic.
- CALL THE POLICE. Even if it seems like there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. Don’t cave in to pressure not to file a police report. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. Injuries aren’t always obvious and can develop in the days after the crash. Do not apologize to the other driver. You may be inclined to apologize for the accident when you are at the scene, even if you were not at fault. However, doing so can seriously jeopardize your claim.
- MAKE AN ACCURATE RECORD. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer exactly what happened. If you do not know certain facts, tell the officer you don’t know. Do not speculate or guess. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Often, the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent hours after the actual collision.
- TAKE PICTURES. If you happen to have a camera in your vehicle, or a cell phone with a camera, you should take pictures of the vehicles. If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. Do not interfere with the police investigation. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
- WITNESS INFORMATION. If there are witnesses, you should try to get contact information for them so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. The investigating officer may not include witness information in the police report, and if there is a dispute later about how the accident happened, you may need an independent witness to back up your version of the crash.
- SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. Often, injuries caused by accidents are not immediately apparent. At the scene, most people are in shock, scared and their adrenaline is pumping. A lot of people feel the most pain a day or two following an accident. Even in accidents involving a minor impact, you can sustain a serious and permanent injury. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for even a short period of time, you may have suffered a concussion or closed head injury. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician.
- REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURANCE. Tell your insurance company you’ve been in an accident. Explain the facts clearly. If the insurance company finds out that you’ve lied to them about anything, you can get into serious trouble, including possible denial of coverage for the accident. Find out if you have medical benefits as part of your insurance coverage. You pay extra for that type of coverage – known as “medpay” – so you should use it.
- KEEP A FILE. Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
- PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. The most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult your attorney. Your attorney can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement, even to your own insurance company. 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.